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 One: Kenet
I have a memory that I know I cannot have. And yet it persists in my mind as clearly as any other memory. I remember her screaming. I remember my father holding her in his arms as she died. I remember him crying. You must understand, my father never cries. I cannot imagine him doing it. So it must be a memory, since I would never be able to conjure up such an image on my own. I remember them covering her face with a cloth, and bearing the body away. And then I remember my father collapsing into someone else‘s arms. A soldier dressed all in black.
Jorin says it can’t be a memory, because no one can remember when they were born. No one can remember that moment or the minutes afterward. But I remember my mother dying while bearing me.
So I’m either deluded, or different.
Jorin would say I’m both.
* * *
My next earliest memory is of Jorin himself. We were probably three or four years old at the time? Far enough back it’s more likely closer to three. I could walk and talk and always understood more of what adults were saying to me than they seemed to think I gleaned. And I had gotten the knack of knowing when they were trying not to tell me something.
Which was how I knew when we went to the orphanage we were going there so I could pick out a boy of my very own.
Oh, I know now how it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to play and socialize and eat with the children until my father or someone else decided on the child who would be my ladra’an and I was supposed to be none the wiser. But someone had let it slip, spoken of it where I could overhear, or maybe a maid even told me—that part I don’t remember. I do remember swaggering out into the play yard where a couple dozen boys were running about on the hard-packed dirt. I didn’t like how they were kicking up so much dust. I hadn’t been allowed near many other children before, and they seemed brutish and noisy. One of these was supposed to be mine?
“That one,” I said, though my handlers as usual were not paying attention to anything I said. I pointed to a dark-eyed, dark-haired boy, sitting by himself in the shadow of the stone building that was the orphanage, hugging his own knees.
I ran over to him and hugged him myself. “This one.”
Much hullaballoo ensued, in which they tried to detach me from him, several adults trying to physically pry us apart and telling me no-no-no, it wasn’t done like that. To them I shouted, “Mine!” and to him I whispered, “If you hang onto me, you’ll come to live in the castle with me.”
He didn’t answer, but clung to me as tightly as I did to him.
I held onto him all the way home in the carriage, as if he were a doll. They tried to separate us again at the castle, telling me he had to be cleaned up, but I suspected that if I let go then, I’d never see him again. I wasn’t stupid. I knew a guard wouldn’t be who would take him for a bath! Only a maid would do that. I pointed out I was just as dirty, now, too. My father finally relented when someone pointed out in a wry voice that if we were going to live inseparably, as a prince and ladra’an should, then they may as well leave us be and let the maids scrub us both.
I held his hand in the bath, because he was scared of everything. I could tell. He hadn’t said anything yet, but it was obvious that everything was strange and new to him. “It’s all right,” I kept telling him. “I’m a prince and I’ll protect you.”
They cleaned us up and presented us that night at banquet. I was just about falling asleep in a throne so large I could actually curl up sideways in it to sleep, when my father called for my attention. And for Jorin’s.
I hadn’t actually heard his name yet until my father bade him stand on his chair and speak it. Perhaps I thought I was going to name him, like a pet. That’s highly likely, though I’m not certain what was going through my child mind.
Now my father spoke to me in a stern voice. “You need to learn that you cannot just seize things you want, nor can you bite your guard because you disagree with him, nor is it seemly to shout at anyone, especially me, in public. That is three infractions.”
I didn’t know the word “infractions,” but it sounded dire and dangerous. A moment later a guard had seized Jorin, flipping him over one knee and pulling down his breeches where everyone in the room could see. I was horrified. What were they going to do?
“It’s also not seemly to strike the royal flesh,” my father said, coming to stand beside us, a stick in his hand. “So instead of striking you, Kenet, I will administer the punishment to your ladra’an.”
“No!” I was on the verge of tears.
He raised the stick and I shrank back, despite what he’d just said about not hitting me. “Do not make it worse. Three infractions.” And he proceeded to whip Jorin three times. Jorin bit his lip and made a horrible face, but he made no sound.
It was me who cried. I seized him the second the guard let him down, bawling my eyes out, terrified that now he’d hate me. I swore I’d never let them do that to him again. I refused to let go again, and Bear had to carry us both together to bed, and stuck us in it still in our clothes, and I cried until I fell asleep in Jorin’s arms. He was the one who took the punishment, not me, so why was I the one who was crying?
I suppose maybe that’s why having a ladra’an persists as a tradition. I learned my lesson, didn’t I?
And I suppose now you know everything you need to know about me and Jorin.
Continued next week! Full list of chapters: here.
[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! Clicky: http://www.circlet.com/?page_id=263]
About the author: Cecilia Tan is the award-winning author of many erotic books and stories and the founder of Circlet Press.