Welcome to The Prince’s Boy by Cecilia Tan, a tale of a prince and his whipping boy ensnared in a plot of dark erotic magic. Warning: explores themes of dubious consent and situations of sexual jeopardy. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Wednesday. This week is Chapter Twenty-Five: Kenet
Don’t ask me what came over me. As they dragged Jorin away, and another scream was building in my chest, I suddenly became calm somewhere deep inside. I would not let them do this. It was as if in that moment the light shone on me for the very first time and I saw the world around me.
I screamed. And then I fell limp into Bear’s arms, feigning a faint, knowing that he would carry me straight to my room. Or at least hoping so. He lifted me into his arms as if I were half my size and carried me from the hall.
We came to a stop in what must have been the corridor just outside the banquet hall. I heard my father’s voice. “Is he well?”
“I’ll put him to bed, my king,” Bear said in a low voice. “Surely it’s just too much excitement for one day. It isn’t every day the prince sees such brutality.”
It was as close to a criticism as I had ever heard Bear make in front of my father. I was tempted to crack open one eye to see the expression on my father’s face, but I didn’t dare. I heard the rustling of robes as another person joined us.
I felt a cool hand on my brow. Seroi. I gave a great shiver then as if his touch were icy cold.
“Seroi, will he be well? The truth, man. Is this some consequence of the preparations you and he are making?”
“Well, my king, I did try to warn him that not to obey me in magical matters could have severe consequences…”
“He is in a very vulnerable state, my lord,” Seroi went on. “I have been bringing him gradually to the state of readiness to accept the ritual. I have gone slowly for his sake, but perhaps we have gone too slowly. The… step we were to take today is a major one, and without it… He is vulnerable, my king. Very vulnerable.”
“Very well. I do not care what he thinks. Enough babying him. Seroi, do what you must. Tonight.”
“But my lord!” That was Bear. “He’s ill!”
I shivered again as Seroi’s fingers sifted through my hair. “He does not need to be conscious for me to finish the spell, though I would greatly prefer it.”
“Your preferences can go hang,” my father said. “I do not want him left in this vulnerable state any longer than necessary.”
Bear cleared his throat. “My lord and king, if I might. He’s been prone to these fits of hysteria before. They never last. He’ll sleep a little and then wake up good as new. Then the Lord High Mage may finish whatever magic he needs.”
“Indeed,” Seroi added, “I would not want to rob him of any important understanding of his coming of age that could result from his participation…”
“Fine, fine! I leave him in your hands, the both of you! But if anything happens to him, I will have both of your milksacks strung from hooks, do you hear me?”
I heard the rustle of Seroi’s robes as he bowed and I felt myself dip in Bear’s arms as he did the same. My father returned to the banquet hall.
“I’ll put him in bed,” Bear said. “And send for you when he wakes.”
Seroi made a long thoughtful hum. “I would prefer to wait by his bedside.”
Bear stumbled. “Begging your pardon, my lord, but I have never allowed anyone to enter that chamber without the prince’s permission and I find this a poor time to start.”
I silently thanked him for the untruth. He allowed maids into the room all the time. But perhaps in some measure he had my permission for them? It did not matter. He was doing his best to get me away from Seroi even if only for a short while.
“I shall wait outside his door then,” Seroi countered.
They walked the rest of the way in silence. Bear carried me into my room, set me on the bed, whispered “hush” into my ear, and then walked away.
I opened one eye to see him covering the mirror with a short cloak of Jorin’s. He returned then and put his hand on my forehead as if checking to see if I were ill. He spoke in a strange kind of whisper, such that I barely saw his mouth moving under his mustache. “I know you’re feigning it, my prince. I did my best. What do you want to do next?”
I could not imitate what he did. I rolled onto my side and whispered. “Bear.” I tried to tell him what Seroi was going to do, that the milksucking bastard was going to come in here and stick his prick in me, and that I didn’t care if it killed me, I wasn’t going to let him do it. Not after what I’d seen tonight. But just thinking the words made my throat tighten and I knew I wouldn’t be able to speak of it. Instead I said, “I’m going to run away.”
“Then you’d best hit me over the head with a candle stand, my prince. Can you do that? Where will you go?”
“You’re not going to try to stop me?” I asked, surprised.
“Jorin told me the mage has some evil designs on you. I believe him. But I cannot help you flee, my prince. You must knock me on the head or they’ll think I have.”
“I’ll go through the passageways. I’m the only one who knows my way through them, anyway.” Well, Jorin knew them almost as well as I did, but not quite as well. Perhaps once upon a time my father had known them, too, but by the time he could be summoned to open the door I would be long gone. That well of calm that had suddenly sprung up as Jorin had disappeared from my sight seemed to fill my chest. “All I have to do is get through the passageway door and shut it behind me. You won’t be able to follow.”
“True, cub. But make it look good for old Bear, eh?”
“You really want me to hit you?”
“You heard your father. I’m rather attached to my milksacks, you know.”
“All right. Let me get a dagger and some things together…”
“I fear he has some magic way of seeing us, my prince.”
“I don’t know.”
“I hope not, since if that’s the case, then he knows you’re onto his spying, no? Go toward the door. I’ll… I’ll use the candle stand.” I held my breath for a moment. Could I do this? I thought of Jorin, his face bloody and bruised, and knew I could.
Bear turned away from me and walked toward the door as if to summon Seroi. I picked up the candle stand in one hand and brought it down hard. I think I hit him on the back of the shoulder mostly, only grazing the side of his head. He fell to his knees, grabbing at the wound and crying out in surprise. I’m sure he hadn’t meant to do that. I grabbed the cloak from the mirror and then ran to the doorway across the room. It opened to my touch and as it was closing behind me I heard the main door to my room opening, and Seroi’s voice, raised.
I hoped he didn’t hurt Bear. I hurried down the dark curve of the passageway. I cursed as I realized in my haste to get through the door I had forgotten to take the dagger from the chest beside the bed.
Then I held my tongue as I heard the door behind me open. And Seroi’s voice call after me. “My prince?”
I ran, then. He shouldn’t have been able to open that door! Then I remembered he had done it once before, but had said it was me, my wish, that opened it for him. Did I secretly desire him?
No! I ran as quickly as I could in the dark. Could he see me? I could hear him following. He could probably hear me. I stopped for a moment to doff my boots and then ran on doe feet, silent and quick.
I knew these passages. Surely he did not? I came to a branching way. If I went right it would lead me down toward the first guard tower. From there I could climb down to the main road up the mountain.
I stifled a scream as I felt a touch across my stomach. A magehand! It pulled at my tunic and I shed the already rent garment easily, leaving it behind and running as fast as I could now, not toward the tower but deeper into the castle. Down toward the baths. Yes, that would be all right, too. There was a way that skirted the kitchen and then led to the place where the wagons came in with supplies.
I pulled the cloak around my shoulders as I ran, expecting at any moment to feel another of those eldritch touches, but none came.
As I made my way down a dark spiral of stone cut within the castle I could feel the air growing close and warm as I neared the baths. The way was dark but I knew these ways like they were a part of me, like the castle itself was a part of me.
I could smell the kitchens shortly after, and then hear the sound of a cook talking to someone as I came to a thin slit in the wall, barely wide enough to be named a window. It was only wide enough for me to see out with one eye.
The two men were sitting on the short wall beside a hitched wagon, piled high with casks. They appeared to be chewing sechal bark and waiting for something.
“The whole castle is in an uproar,” one was saying to the other. “It’s an ill omen to find evil so close to noble blood.”
“Quiet your tongue,” the other said. “That boy was exactly that. Just a boy. They should have parted them a long time ago, but there was no evil in him.”
“Well, he’s the army’s problem now,” the first one said, and I saw him pitch the ball of chewed bark onto the ground. “Aha. Here’s that last one. This’ll keep the general and his men in good spirits, eh? Some of the finest from the king’s own cellar?”
Another man appeared on the landing then, pushing a barrel. He rolled it right onto the wagon and then two of them wrestled it upright while the third pulled a piece of cloth over the top of the load. Two of them went back inside then, and the third went to check the horses.
I suddenly knew what I must do. I rushed down the rest of the stairs and emerged behind the curtain of vines further down the wall from where they had been sitting. I crept along the hedgerow that skirted the road until I came to a gap in it, and then I waited.
A few moments later I heard the hoofbeats and then in a moment, the wagon was past me. They had not yet picked up much speed and I ran after them, catching hold of the back of the gate and swinging myself up and over it. It rattled as I did it, but the wagon did not slow; perhaps over the sound of the horses the driver heard nothing. I ducked under the edge of the cloth cover, pulling the cloak around me as much as I could, the hood over my head. The night was warm enough, but I had no tunic and did not want to be visible.
But I could not help but look up at the castle as the wagon made its way down the mountain. Every window seemed to be ablaze, and the torches along the battlements. They must have been looking for me all through the place by now, if Seroi had given up trying to find me. I hoped that Bear would not suffer because of what I did.
All I could think was that some incredible luck must have been with me. This wagon was carrying a load of ale and whiskey to the army’s high command. Hadn’t the man just said himself that was what they had done with Jorin? Shipped him to the army? I knew they did that with criminals sometimes, to let them redeem themselves and die in the service, instead of killing them for their crimes. It boiled my blood to think they considered Jorin a criminal.
I hid my face in my arms then, the fiery glow of the castle still burnt into my eyelids even as I saw again the way his prick had stood out from his body, ruddy and vigorous in the bright light of the banquet hall, straining toward me as my own father tore open my tunic.
Oh, Jorin. And to think that tonight I was ready for you to…
The calm I had felt, that had carried me and armored me since that moment in the banquet hall, suddenly cracked, and I felt myself starting to weep. I kept silent, trying again and again to swallow the lump in my throat but unable to stem the tears, as I wondered where he was and how much he had suffered. For me.
I made a promise then, to myself, that I would find him. That I would find him and everything would be different when I did. I would no longer be the source of his pain, but his pleasure. I still did not understand what Seroi had started, but only Jorin would finish it. I vowed this in silence to myself and my tears abated. I could not sleep, the wagon jostling me as it made its way through the night, but I rested, the calm returning. I would find him.
Had I known, all those years ago, that the boy I chose that day would suffer in my name… would I have chosen differently? Would I have picked a noisy, unpleasant urchin in whose pain I could delight, instead of one I could love?
I had clung to him tenaciously that day, and I was not about to let go now.
* * *
Impatient to find out the fate of Kenet and Jorin? Book one (chapters 1-56) is now on sale for only 99 cents in ebook from all your favorite retailers or direct from Circlet Press!
About the author: Cecilia Tan is the award-winning author of many erotic books and stories and the founder of Circlet Press.