|Photo by N Stjerna|
monster and An infernal bargain.
These remind me of Laurent and Kastor whom we met here. The bargain has been struck, but who is the real monster?
The demon smiled at him. Laurent gasped through pain he'd never known before, his entire chest felt like Kator pealed it off. Kastor flexed his hand and the ash of Laurent's flesh fell away. "One moon," he repeated. "Or a series of delightful things will happen." Kastor pat his hand on Laurent's shoulder. "Ta."
With a contraction of smoke, the demon vanished. The fire gutted, spluttering out in most places. "JEAN!" Laurent pulled at the too-tight restrains on his wrists, abruptly done with ropes tying him down. "Get this shit off me. Get me out--"
Jean appeared at Laurent's side, face ash-white and shaking. He fumbled at the ropes. "You- you- ..."
Jean jumped and struggled faster, it only made his clumsiness worse.
"Aarrh!" Laurent snarled and flexed every muscle. He felt the hand print on his chest flare with heat and light. Jean stumbled backward with eyes too wide. Fire sparked out from Laurent's chest and he pointed it at the ropes that bound him. They fell into ash on contact.
Laurent slid from the steel frame and landed on charred runes with his bare feet. He smoked, demon-touched.
Jean scrambled in panic for the door. He left it gaping open in his haste. Laurent had the feeling he wouldn't be seeing his apprentice again. He put one hand against the steel frame and braced his feet. He pushed and felt muscle flex along his back. The massive frame squealed against the stone with each handspan, a feat of strength Laurent could only hope was the beginning.
Laurent cleared the summoning circle and let the fire burn itself out on the floor. He dug for a pair of pants and touched the raw skin of his chest gingerly. Kastor's brand burned half his torso smooth of hair, a perfect crescent around the new mark. The print throbbed with pain and held a slight orange glow. He wouldn't have covered it with a shirt even without that clause in his bargain. It hurt and everything was too hot as it was.
He strode from the building with sudden purpose. The courtyard stood quietly empty in the night. Laurent took a deep breath of crisp air. He didn't realize how confining his workshop felt until now. Here he had room to breathe. To stretch. Laurent reached his arms up and closed his eyes to the breeze. He felt his back flex and new muscles stretched up with is arms. New kites that caught the wind.
Laurent grinned at the sky and stretched his wings as far wide as they could go. He saw claws at the edges of his vision and laughed.
"You've been successful."
Laurent dropped his arms and crossed one over his chest. His fist hit the new brand and he hissed but left it there. "My Lord. I called an audience with Kastor and he has granted me power."
"The terms are acceptable?"
"Yes, my Lord." A touch at the edge of one wing. Laurent felt himself retract the limb on instinct but his King pursued with a firm hand. He gripped the outer finger and ran his palm across thick membrane.
"Fascinating." The King's hands moved inward, pressing along the upper bone until it met Laurent's back. The King explored this connection, his hands insistent and sure.
Laurent arched under his King's touch. Heat licked across his skin at every contact. His body reacted. Laurent swung his new wings forward to hide the problem.
"I'm sorry, Leige, I cannot control it."
"Show Us." The King circled around him and pried his wings open. "You do not hide anything from Us."
Laurent looked down and away. "My Lord." He flexed his wings back open and closed his eyes against the quick breath he heard. "I--"
"Shut up." The King's fingers dug into his chin and forced him to look up. To meet his Lord's eyes. Laurent tried to look away, up anywhere. "Meet Our eyes."
He did so with great reluctance, looking up on the face of his King for the first time in his life. The man had a severe look to him, angles and dark skin, bright amber eyes that demanded attention.
"You are fearsome." His King said, no sign of irony in his expression. "Take off the pants, they don't suit you any longer."
Laurent stripped, at once thankful to be free of them, but still uncomfortable in his arousal.
"This is how you will stand beside Our throne at the dawn court, in full regale. Everyone will know the weapon We have created."
Beside the throne. Laurent's heart raced. He forgot his nakedness and bowed low on one knee. "Lord you honor me." He felt the King's hand on his head and Laurent's body burned with pride.
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