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-Eight: Jorin
In the morning a commander came, and he and two other officers supervised our march from the camp. They hadn’t given us weapons yet, or orders, and I wondered how far we would be going. Not far on foot, it turned out, as they marched us down to the river and loaded us onto a barge. We were twenty four men in total, including the commander and his second, and two bowmen who took turns on top. From the way the other men eyed them I knew they were less there to protect us from the enemy than to shoot any of us that tried to flee.
We were on the barge all day, traveling on the river, and when night fell, the commander gathered us together to speak of our “mission” and of the pardon we would each be given for our crimes if we did this service to the crown.
If we survived, of course. He did not say that part, though I think every man there knew it well enough. I saw others casting their gazes about as if looking for escape, but there was none with the archers watching us from the barge roof. I overheard them talking about how most of the army was being mustered to the east, and lamenting that we were not joining them. In the morning we would draw near Tiger’s Mouth, they told us, and we would be armed once we reached the encampment after sunrise.
We bedded down on the deck of the barge, and I found the motion of the boat and the rushing sound of the water enough to lull me to sleep.
I was wakened by the sound of a scream. I felt a jolt as if the barge had run around or struck something, and there were men running on the roof, shouting. In the darkness the lanterns cast very little light, but a sudden bright plume of fire lit the night just off to one side. I saw the silhouette of men being flung back from the blast in the split second before I closed my eyes and shielded my face. If I had been on my feet I would have been knocked down, surely.
I did not wait to see if the next ball of fire would explode on the deck itself. In the dark and with the archers all too busy with the chaos, I slipped over the side and into the river.
I had not expected the river to pull me away from the side so quickly but the barge was stuck where it was and once I was in the water, I was not. I paddled hard, trying to keep my head above the water, which was fortunately not very rough or that might have been the end of me. I kicked off the boots they had given me and then I could swim a little better, but it had never been a skill I’d cultivated. The rough uniform I wore weighed me down, but I didn’t dare stop paddling long enough to try to shrug free of it. Luckily, my struggling in the water took me toward the bank and I was able to get myself up onto a pebble-lined shore without further danger. I could still hear the shouts and saw another gout of flame go up into the sky.
Was it the Night Riders? There were the rumors about them taming a dragon to do their bidding. Sergetten had said there was no such thing as dragons (at least, not any longer) and I believed him. If not for that fire I might have thought the commotion merely my fellow conscripts in revolt. But it seemed more likely that the transport was under attack.
All the more reason for me to get away as quickly as possible. If only I could catch my breath. My limbs felt leaden after how hard my blood had pumped as I’d swum. I forced myself to crawl out of the open and into the brush, so should the barge break loose and come downriver, no one would see me.
I lay there under the broad leaves of some bush in full summer bloom, listening in the dark, the scent of the flowers overwhelming the wet odor of my uniform. I could hear nothing conclusive. I decided to wring out what I was wearing, to have some hope of it drying. I took it off, wringing out the shirt and pants and then hanging them in the branches of the bush.
The scent from the blossoms I brushed as I moved was heady and sweet. Not falla but some flower I didn’t know. I lay back down to rest and wait for my uniform to dry and for whatever might happen next. Surely if it was the Night Riders taking the barge, it would soon be moving again, toward Tiger’s Mouth where their stronghold was? Or would they just destroy it where it was?
These thoughts did not get far in my mind, as a great drowsiness seemed to come over me. Swimming for my life must have exhausted me more than I expected. I fell into a dream, then, and in the dream Kenet came crawling under the hanging boughs of the bush to join me. His hands examined my skin, tracing the marks the final beating and the ropes had left there. “Leave it,” I said. “Kenet, kiss me.”
He did, and his mouth was sweeter than the nectar of this flower. Some part of me knew, though, that it was a dream, that I was inventing this vision to comfort myself. When I opened my eyes, he would not be there, but for the moment, I could dream.
When I tried to open my eyes, however, I found I could not. They were bound with some kind of cloth, or so it felt like when I tried to blink. I took stock of my situation quickly. My hands were bound behind my back and I was seated on a chair. Or more likely a stool, since I could feel nothing behind me.
“He’s awake,” came a low voice to my left.
“Ahhhh, good.” The one on my right sounded like he was smiling. “I was starting to worry he wouldn’t, after all the tingle-tingle in his system.”
Oh. The bush I had been under. My knowledge of botany was quite limited, after all, but I knew of the numbing medicine one could make from the tinglebush’s leaves and berries. Apparently the flowers, too, could have such an effect. I wondered if I had damaged my ability to feel, but I felt no tingling now. In fact, I could feel the air moving against my bare skin. I wondered if they had found my uniform when they’d found me, or if my nakedness was evidence they had not.
“Gresh, leave us.”
“If you’re going to question ’im, I should stay.”
“I’m not going to question him. Not yet anyway.”
“Oh. Right. Suit yourself.” I heard the footsteps as the man with the lower voice turned and walked away. Were we in the open? Outdoors?
I shivered suddenly as warm fingers ran across the back of my shoulders. I expected to feel the steel of a dagger next, but no, his fingers just made their way around to my throat, brushing up my chin and then over my lips. I pulled away at that, though the touch had not been painful.
“Who are you?” I demanded. “I’ve done nothing to harm you.”
A soft huff of breath that might have been a laugh. “If you answer my questions, maybe I will answer yours,” he said.
“I thought you said you weren’t going to question me.”
“What I told Gresh to get us some privacy, and why, is not your concern. Or perhaps it is, but… well, that is for us to discuss a bit later, perhaps.” His voice had a kind lilt, and it sounded somewhat familiar.
“What are you talking about? Do I know you?”
His hand cupped my cheek, then my ear, and it didn’t feel like an unfriendly touch. It felt warm and comforting, not at all like he was trying to threaten me. “Well, why don’t we start there? What is your name?”
For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name I’d used at the camp. “I’m not a threat,” I said, trying to buy time. “This isn’t necessary.”
“I’ll be the judge of how much secrecy is necessary,” he said. “Your name, please.”
“Jorin,” I said then, and my fake name came into my head the moment I said it. “Though the army has me listed as Crieg.”
“Oh, how interesting. And why is that? Surely there must be a fascinating story there?” He moved away as he spoke and I heard him stoking up a fire. The cloth must have been thick on my eyes for me not to have seen the glow.
“I… the army… I was on a barge transporting conscripts to Tiger’s Mouth.” I realized I could not assume he knew anything about that. He might just be a traveling brigand who came across me asleep under the influence of tingle-tingle for all I knew. “About two dozen including me. It didn’t matter if they knew who I was since they were sending us to die, I’m pretty sure.”
“Oh? And wouldn’t you have wanted word to be carried to your family of your death?”
“I was orphaned a long time ago,” I said. For some reason admitting it now made my heart hurt in a way it had not in years. Perhaps because this time I was truly alone when I said it. I couldn’t keep the sadness out of my voice.
He was silent a long time then, and the only thing I could hear was the hiss of the fire, a small pop coming from it from time to time. In the silence my pain seemed to grow and I wondered if the sudden onset of maudlin grief was a common effect of tingle-tingle.
I startled a bit as he spoke, now quite close though I hadn’t heard him move. And I was even more surprised by his words. “I think I know who you are.”
“I’m nobody,” I insisted.
“Then does it matter if you die?” He spoke as if the question were an intellectual curiosity, running his fingers through my hair as he talked. “Sent on a suicide mission, then left to die on a sinking barge, and yet you are here, alive. What do you live for?”
Kenet, I thought. I live to see Kenet again.
Then I wondered if he could read my mind, as his fingers brushed over my balls so much like Kenet’s used to. “There’s someone,” he said. “Not your mother, if you’re an orphan. And you’re too young for a wife…”
I growled as his hand slipped around my shaft then, and it must have been the aftereffect of the flowers and the dream I’d had, but it felt so very much like Kenet’s hand.
The thought occurred to me, what if I was still dreaming? “This isn’t real,” I said to the phantom who was now bringing me to full hardness. “It’s a tingle-fever dream.”
“Perhaps it is,” he admitted. “Perhaps I am just a figment of your imagination, of pleasures you can only dream of.”
With that I felt the wetness of his tongue up and down my cock, and I groaned. “Kenet,” I whispered as he took me full into his mouth.
“Jorin,” he whispered as he came up a few seconds later, nipping at my chest and then meeting my mouth with his.
He pulled the blindfold away then, and for a moment my eyes were dazzled by the fairness of his hair. Kenet! But then as he slipped his hand over my mouth to keep me from crying out, I could see, no, it was not him, though this man bore a strong resemblance to him, at least in the firelight and with the flower poison still running through me. He was bare to the waist, but it was not Kenet.
“No, I’m not he,” he said. “But I have no doubt you are Jorin, now.”
I nodded, not understanding any of this but trusting him without knowing why. I could see now, even in the firelight, that his skin was tanned by weather and wind and his hands were callused like Jaiks’s. He let go my mouth and slid his hand over my hair. “You were right to keep your identity a secret, or to try to,” he said, “but you talked while you dreamed.”
“Ah.” My heart sank. What else had I given away about myself? Or about the prince? My cock throbbed where it stood between my legs and I still did not know what this man’s intentions were.
He studied my face, then my cock. “The others will have my milksacks if they think I let your hands loose. Tingle-tingle, well, it’s not unheard of for a man to have a reaction like yours, but I can’t very well let you take care of it yourself…”
I just looked at him. I would not beg.
“They think I’m going to do this anyway,” he said with a shrug and a chuckle. “After all, the Night Arts require certain perversions.” He unbuckled his belt and set it aside, knife and all, and then doffed black boots and trousers.
He straddled my lap, now as naked as I was, and wriggled until our two cocks were together. He stroked them in a single grip and I moaned.
“You’re going to have a terrible headache tomorrow,” he said, then spat into his palms and slicked us both up and down. “No way around it. But this, this I can take care of.”
For a moment he became Kenet again, but when my senses cleared, I asked, “But who are you?”
“You can call me Kan,” he said, as he sped up his stroke. “That is, if the others don’t overrule me and decide to kill you anyway.”
“You poor thing, this whole situation must be confusing. I’m sorry, Jorin, you’re probably going to pass out when you come. If you don’t wake, it’ll be because the others did away with you. If you do, it’ll be because I convinced them that you can help us. Maybe even that you… want to join us.”
“Join you? But who are you?”
“Hm, yes, that would be best. You’ll probably have to convince the others that your desire to join us is quite sincere. That may take some doing on your part… are you loyal to Kenet, still?”
“What? Of course!” I gasped as his hand twisted slickly around the head of my cock. “I-If you are loyal to Kenet, too, I would gladly join you. But who are you?”
He chuckled. “I assure you we mean the princeling no harm if he is as innocent as we deem. But haven’t you figured it out by now? Or is your head still so muddled from the flower? I’m the leader of the Night Riders.”
And with that revelation, both our cocks began to spurt and I cried out, overwhelmed by sensation and information at once. And as I would later learn, Kan was usually right when it came to predictions. I passed out immediately, before I could even frame another question for him in my mind, slumping into his arms like an unstrung puppet and wholly at his mercy.
* * *
About the author: Cecilia Tan is the award-winning author of many erotic books and stories and the founder of Circlet Press.