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Please be forewarned that this chapter contains nonconsenual sex.
Chapter 7 — Nothing Left to Lose
The Bird Nest tavern sat on a prime spot where Merath’s mercantile piers abutted the warehouse district. The tavern was built over the water and men had to climb stairs to reach it, but once there they could sit on wide wooden decks and look out over the docks and river to keep an eye on both their vessels and the traffic, of which there was plenty. Looking down river, they could see the great widening of the Dazun where the big river of Rannul joined to nearly double the river’s volume. Not far upriver was a pretty view of the splendid grey stone arches of the Aldazor Bridge, across which travelers made their way to the interior territories of eastern Amallar.
Cam looked at the torches flickering along the Aldazor span with longing. Except for having set foot in a few small river towns and having deposited Tegwyna there, he didn’t know hells about eastern Amallar—only that it had to be a better place than this. He sat at a table on a deck overlooking the docks. Meuk hunched at his side, wolfing down a plate of lentils and pork barely illuminated by the hand lantern the serving bob had set. Cam wore his new clothes and was glad for the cloak because the night promised to be cold.
They had arrived at the tavern at nightfall, Meuk swaggering into the place for all the world like a Lord himself. He might as well have been, with Cam in tow. Men looked up at the entrance but then continued to look, the better to see what Meuk had brought with him. Meuk had introduced himself to the ale man as the barge master had told him, and showed Cam to him, letting it be known that the young Kheld’s services could be bought. Not cheap, mind. One had only to look at him to see why. The ale man had nodded and given them a table along with an agreement to send any suitable customer their way. Cam was still aware of getting looks, but it was better out here with the night to blot out things he did not want to see. The sound of the bench opposite him being moved, wood scraping across planks, drew his head up.
The man who faced him, already seated, wore a hat graced with dark feathers that dipped across his bright golden hair. He was a mature man of at least forty years, Staubaun and handsome. Eyes the golden brown color of ripe acorns swept his countenance imperiously.
“The ale man was right,” the man said, richly satisfied. “He is pretty.” Those eyes remained fixed on Cam’s face, haughty lips smiling as they read what he was feeling. “Not hard looking, either. Most cumbucks have been whores for so long, they’ve turned into hags.”
“This one’s new,” Meuk informed him. He used the flat of his broad knife to shovel beans into his mouth.
“So I see. But he’s well into it. I can see the need.”
Cam could not take his gaze from those knowing others.
“What say you, boy?” the man asked. “Want to wrap those fine lips about my Staubaun cock tonight?”
The man smelled like sex, hot and rank. His cock, unseen beneath the table, was probably already hard. Cam averted his eyes lest they betray him further. He could already taste the man’s juices upon his tongue, the silken feel of that fluid as he guided it down his throat and swallowed. It was what he needed and wanted—and feared. His dick, already excited by his state of need, stiffened into full arousal at the nearness of this dangerous man. Meuk had been studying him, noting the effect.
“He’s not cheap,” Meuk said. “Not another like him ‘less you go to a pricey brothel.”
“He’d do it for free.”
“He would. But I don’t let him. Gold to me first. How many of ye?”
The man smirked. “One. Just me. I’m enough. But I’m not sold yet. Some cumbucks are just talk, all mouth. I want his pretty young ass.”
Meuk stopped knifing beans into his mouth long enough to eye the man greedily. “Three gold rams gets you all night.”
“I don’t want all night. I just want his Kheld ass.”
The grizzled Estol looked disappointed, but only for a moment. He nodded. “One ram. Straight up.”
Meuk, no. Not this one. Cam shot a warning look at his companion, but the Estol had resumed scarfing down his meal.
The Staubaun glared at Meuk. “A gold ram? Just for a fuck? I can get a boy to give me his ass right outside on the dock for a frigging krug!”
Meuk shrugged. “Your choice. This one’s pretty and his ass costs a gold ram.” He held the man’s look until the Staubaun cursed and reached into his purse, flinging a large gold coin down upon the table. Pouncing on it, Meuk fingered it and nodded. “Use the room upstairs. I’ll pay the ale man.” The room cost only a krug for an hour, and offset the price enough to mollify the man.
The man held Cam’s wrist as he led him up the tavern stairs and into the first of three rooms at the landing. The room was tiny, barely more than a closet, but it had what was needed. A plain tall bed, consisting of a frame holding in a straw-stuffed mattress, was the only piece of furniture.
“Take canlı bahis it off,” the man ordered as soon as he had closed and secured the door. “You had damn better be worth a gold ram.” He watched, his brown eyes hard and critical as Cam removed first his cloak, then the rest of his garments, unwrapping his loincloth last. After a moment, the Staubaun smiled. “Nice.” The man’s erection, which had been noticeable before, stiffened visibly within his fine trousers. An elegant hand, three out of five fingers glittering with massive rings, reached out to fondle Cam’s shameless dick. “I like it when Kheld pricks salute me. I bet you were fuck-tamed, weren’t you, blue eyes?”
Cam looked at him warily. Why did this man want to know? When he did not answer, the Staubaun grabbed him by the jaw and squeezed until he yelped.
“Yes, Lord,” he whispered. “I was fuck-tamed.”
“You liked it, didn’t you? Getting a big Staubaun cock shoved up your unsuspecting ass? That’s why you keep coming back for more.”
No, that’s not why, he wanted to tell the man. I come back because men like you fucking destroyed me. Because you made me this way. But that was not what this man wanted to hear.
“Yes, Lord, I like Staubaun cock. I need it,” he said, willing this encounter to get underway. The sooner it did, the sooner he would get the seed he needed and the sooner it would end.
“Yeah, a regular little fuckmouth, I bet.” Releasing Cam, he sat on the edge of the rickety bed. He quickly opened his leather and silk breeches to expose his engorged member. It was not very long, but it was thick, a truncheon of a cock from which the foreskin had been removed to expose a thick, bulbous head. Drops of clear fluid already beaded at the tip. “That’s right, boy, lick your lips. You’ve got the jitters good and I like that. You’ll be nice and hungry. Well, on your knees, then, and get to it.”
Resigned, knowing there was no other way until he could somehow break free of Meuk, Cam knelt on the creaking plank floor. It was drafty and hard, but he ignored the discomfort as he reached for the Staubaun’s cock.
“Don’t touch it, you dirty Kheld,” the man snarled, slapping Cam alongside the head. “Just your fucking mouth.”
He used his tongue then, licking the thick, heavily veined shaft. The man wanted his balls licked and Cam did those, too, swirling his tongue lavishly over both walnut-sized testicles enclosed in their soft sac. Although apparently a man of means and perhaps even of rank, the Staubaun was not a bather. The golden bush at his loins stunk of sweat and traces of urine and there was a sour taste to his meaty, thick-skinned cock. Cam didn’t care. The clear droplets with which he bathed his tongue while working his saliva wetly up and down that heavy, throbbing shaft were all that he cared about. He did not protest the man’s hard hands grabbing his head and forcing that cock deep the moment he took the thing between his lips. He could not protest the hard thrusts that rammed the back of his throat . . . the angle was all wrong, cutting off his air. When Cam tried to pull back, just so he could breathe, the man held him fast.
“Oh, no you don’t! Drink it, cocksucker!”
Please . . . I can’t . . .
He thought the man would rip out clumps of hair, he was holding him so hard. Those powerful thighs and buttocks pumped that huge cock so brutally into his mouth that it hurt. He was choking, suffocating. Desperately, Cam grabbed the Staubaun’s spread knees with his hands, tried to propel himself away.
“Cheating, cheapass Kheld!” the Staubaun swore as his rhythm was disrupted.
Cam pulled back the moment he felt those strong hands release his head. The wet prick slipped from his mouth as he gasped for air. Then there was only red pain as a huge Staubaun fist slammed into his face and he fell backward. The Staubaun grabbed Cam’s shirt and wadded a sleeve, jamming it between his teeth to block his cries.
“Think you’re going to play stupid games with me, eh?” the man growled. He seized Cam with hard hands, lifting him easily and throwing him face down on the bed, legs over the edge.
Cam could neither get the shirt out from his mouth to cry for help, nor fight the man whose much larger body now pinned his to the bed. The massive arms held him down, strong legs prying his apart. Securing Cam’s neck with one forearm, the Staubaun spit into his free hand and used that to wet his still raging hard cock. There was grease in the jar by the headboard, but he ignored it.
“This had better be one gold-plated ass, you fucking cumbuck,” he grunted, positioning himself, then thrusting.
It hurt like nothing ever had. Like even Penargos never had in raping his virgin ass. Like hell itself. Cam screamed, but the shirt muffled his cry and if anyone heard him, no one came to the door. He endured only pain as the thick cock rammed into his dry unstretched asshole. He endured more pain, during which his dick went flaccid and he drifted in and out of blackness as the Staubaun bahis siteleri fucked him violently.
“This is what you want, isn’t it, Kheld? Coming here with your pretty eyes, thinking we’d fawn all over you . . . well, you’re getting what all Khelds get, a good hard slave fucking. Gods damned Kheld slaves, only thing you’re good for—”
It seemed like forever until the Staubaun’s paced quickened and the brute roared like an animal as he thrust hard and deep. Cam screamed again as the man’s bitter semen flooded his ravaged, torn tissues. As much as those juices almost immediately quelled his every craving for them, he felt hollowed out even before that large cock left his ass. No sooner had the man stood than Cam slid from the bed to the floor, where he managed to remove the shirt from his mouth and curled, gasping, his ass bleeding and his bowels seized by terrible, cramping pain. He did not look up as the Staubaun adjusted his clothing and left. He knew that all he would see in those eyes would be scorn.
Minutes later, Meuk edged in, then darted to his side. “Aw hells, boy,” was all he could say.
Cam didn’t look at him, either. He let Meuk mop some of the blood, using the shirt, already bloody because Cam, in his agony, had bitten his tongue. He let Meuk help him dress, using the cloak to conceal that he now had no shirt. But he refused help in walking and edged on his own power down the stairs. His legs still worked. His ass was bleeding so much that it streamed down his leg and soaked his pants through. He hurt like hell with every step, his bowels knotting so fiercely that he walked bent over double for half the way, but he did it somehow. He nearly fell into the boat and lay on the bottom, sobbing.
“Damn, boy, damn,” Meuk kept saying. “I didn’t know. Swear I didn’t. A fine Lord like that, gold on his buckles. We’re leaving Merath now, see? We’ll go to Dazunor-Rannuli, we will. Go to the Rill town. They’ll be a better class there. We’ll get you the sort that will treat you better.”
But Cam didn’t think they would.
* * * *
Cam watched the river. He hadn’t spoken to Meuk since they’d left Merath. He had barely moved. He sat with his back propped against the bow and watched the sun on the water. His body still hurt, though his bowels had settled after he’d crapped blood for a night and day. Pure blood, red as life itself. He hadn’t crapped in a half day, which he thought might be good. His mind had cleared enough to know that if he stayed with Meuk, he would die.
He gets gold, I get hell. The fuck with that.
He watched the river. He wasn’t wearing shoes. Meuk had taken them off so that he could get off Cam’s trousers, which he’d washed the blood from and laid to dry across the fish hold. He didn’t have a shirt anymore, as that had been ruined. He wore only a loincloth and the thin tunic he had been wearing the last time he’d seen Ralen, with his fine new cloak as protection against the sun and first autumn chill. The cloak was barely enough and Cam tugged it closer about his shoulders. But he watched the river. He knew that Meuk watched him.
I’m his meal ticket. But he’s not mine.
Meuk had a sword. Meuk usually kept Cam’s ankles hobbled and his wrists loosely tied, but he had left those off due to all the cramping and crapping, and also because Cam was being unusually unresisting and passive, and he thought him too broken to try to escape. Meuk did not know why Cam watched the river.
They were nearing Dazunor-Rannuli.
Cam feared reaching that city. He feared its swarming waterfront and languid canals above which palaces rose like cliffs and from which wealth bubbled like rot. There were Kheld corpses enough already in Dazunor-Rannuli, women and boys sold to the brothel trade and vanished forever into the bottomless pleasure pits of that corrupt city. He no longer believed he would not be added to their number. If he was sure of anything, it was that Meuk meant to sell him. As he watched the river, he saw how the number of boats increased. No city on the Dazun drew more traffic. Large boats. Small boats. River barges of all sizes, gliding toward the shining beacon of the city’s Rill port. Meuk was watching him, but more and more Meuk was forced to also watch the river. As they neared the outlying piers, boats often stopped to await signals from port masters as to available berths.
The water got crowded. Meuk steered into shallower water nearer the Dazun’s banks, which at that point were inhabited by foundries and mills. He sought the less congested channel, the better to glide beneath the narrow near arches of Dazunor-Rannuli’s fabled double bridge. Other boats, small like theirs, did the same, leaving the wider channel at center to the barges and big trading vessels. The waterway grew more crowded. Meuk turned when another boat came too close on the riverside. Good enough. Cam flung his cloak overboard and followed it into the water.
Hoping Meuk might mistake it for him, Cam left the cloak floating on the surface and dived. He swam underwater, bahis şirketleri across the current, toward another boat he had seen off their stern. He surfaced only once, to gasp for air and, seeing the other boat’s hull looming near, quickly dived again, going under the shallow vessel. He was glad he had learned to swim well. Surfacing again on the other side of the red-painted pleasure boat, he struck as quickly as he could for shore. He did not think Meuk would abandon the boat in pursuit of him, but it was possible. Reaching the bank, his soaked tunic and loincloth clinging to his skin, Cam caught at branches and growth to haul himself out of the water. From there he found his way to the street. People looked at him oddly, but he didn’t care. The worse thing was that he was soaked and cold. But he had planned his escape well. Meuk was now downstream—and the piers to which Dazunor-Rannuli restricted Kheld river traffic was upstream, not far from where he stood.
Someone will help me, Cam was certain. His folk might be rough and impoverished, but they never turned down another of their kind when in need. Khelds didn’t hold with slavery, a Staubaun practice they abhorred. At the very least, they wouldn’t give him over to any who might come looking for him. More likely, some boatman would see him safely across the river to Amallar where Meuk would never dare to go and thus would never find him. He shivered as he ran barefooted over the cold stone-paved streets, ever looking behind him, keeping to the shadows. He would have a few days, at least, before the craving came on him again and he would be forced, against his will and against hope, to seek Staubauns again.
* * * *
The Dazun rose and retreated in its ancient dance with the moon, and Cam never spent more than a day except he was on it. Months passed as swiftly as water. They were not easy times, but Cam put all that he had learned to good use. He was young and quick, and there was work on the river for a strong, sharp lad experienced with rope and sail. Initially hiring on with any Kheld boatman in need of a hand, he lived poor on what they would give him and scoured the wharves as his condition demanded for such Staubauns as would pay coin to enjoy the pleasure he could bring. He hated his life of walking the docks of ratty Dazun towns by night, trying to find men who would not hurt him, sucking Staubaun cock in darkened alleyways. His instincts were good and he encountered few mishaps, preferring to go without before taking chances. Seeking ease before the craving ruled him kept his mind clear. It paid to be clever, to know the taverns and Fences, to never go off with any man alone, to choose before being chosen. He learned the value of his looks, and that while men would pay more for his ass than his mouth, they were less to be trusted with it. One of his first purchases had been a sturdy small dagger that could be hidden in his boot, and he used it when he needed to.
At first he traveled from boat to boat, town to town, not bothering to accumulate possessions. He discarded his old clothes when he got his hands on anything better and ate what his boat mates would spare or tavern owners tossed. He traded sex for food. Better yet was when he could trade it for money. Every coin that came to him, he stitched into the double lining of his tattered coat.
Ever since fleeing Meuk, he had tried to find out what had happened at Rahn Rock. All Meuk had told him was that Staubaun soldiers had overrun the island, killing all they found, and how they had been lucky to make their escape. But what happened to smugglers upriver of Merath barely found ears on the teeming wharves of Dazunor-Rannuli, where men cared only for empire and trade. Only one Kheld boatman from Neuberland could tell him anything at all. “The Lords of Gobba and Annech, them what drove Kheld settlers out of their lands, are boasting they cleared out that nest.” But the man had not known anything about a man named Ralen or what had become of him.
Cam had even gone to Neuberland once himself, though fearful of Meuk and dreading having to seek seed from the Kheld-hating Staubauns of that region, but even there the rumors had been few. The smuggler Ralen was in prison, one man said, and that lifted his spirit, but try as he might, he could never learn more than that. Staubaun magistrates did not answer Kheld questions and he risked being thrown into prison himself if he asked too many.
* * * *
One day, three months after his escape from Meuk and with winter looming through a heavy gray sky, he returned to Omadawn by way of a barge hauling lumber. He walked up the lane and saw Meron wielding a shovel, unloading a cart of clay in the brickyard. Bricks made during the summer from yellow mud stood in stacks like hayricks around a new house built near the hawthorn thicket. He had been gone over a year, and in that time his older brother had taken a wife. He stopped at the edge of the yard and watched Meron work, seeing the sturdy back and arms of a brick maker, caked with honest dirt. Cam had taken care to scrub away the filth of his poverty, and his clothes were as clean as he could get them, but they were too big for him and hung all wrong. After some minutes, Meron looked his way.
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