It had taken all of their family's charm together and not a little bit of emotion-working, but they had gotten the crazed Eris asleep and tucked into a wagon, and cleared the battlefield of any incriminating evidence, before the witch-hunters showed. With everything packed up, they were, more or less, a travelling carnival, nothing for the hunters to search too deeply into.
And a good thing, too, since Shahin still had a hermaphrodite tied up in her wagon. Now that they were on the road, Willow driving and Arturo sitting look-out, she had the luxury of going back to the skinny strawberry-blonde and hashing things out.
"So." She pulled up a stool and sat, giving her a couple inches of height on the kneeling Ty.
"So." The hawthorn was beginning to wear on the other fae; its complexion was getting ashen and its voice was raw. "You really intend to go through with this?"
"Well," she answered, as if she was still considering her options, "you came into the middle of my camp, attacked my warriors, and refuse to tell me your business. I'd say that makes you an enemy combatant, wouldn't you?"
"Shahin…" Ty complained, and then, weakly, "sa'Ice Rapier."
"Ty," she rebutted, and then, studying his pallor, relented, or allowed herself to appear as if she was relenting. "This is what we'll do."
He settled a little bit. "I'm listening."
"I am going to Keep you, and you are going to assent to it." She kept talking over the beginning of his argument, "I'm going to Keep you for a month, and then send you on your work for Regine, intact and free - and equipped. In return, I'm going to pick your brain for every bit of intel I can use. Regine is not my enemy," she reiterated. "We are not warring against her. For one, I have two descendants there right now, and several other relatives. For another - there are fish to fry who are actually evil. But she is holding information I need, and so are you."
Slowly, the hermaphrodite nodded. "And the alternative?" it asked quietly.
"The alternative is I send you back to her in a box… and your cooperation determines whether you're packed whole or in pieces."
"You know I can't cooperate," Ty complained.
"Aaw." She smirked in mock-sympathy. "Her geasa don't allow a personal-danger or life-and-limb clause? You really ought to consider a better boss."
"Well…" it admitted, clearly considering the options. "All right. You promise you'll send me safely on my way when the month is over?"
"I promise that, should you agree to be Kept by me for the next month, I will provision you and send you freely on your way when that time is over," she agreed, eliciting a smirk from her captive.
"You sound like a cy'Drake."
I'm not surprised. She frowned out the small window. Emrys… Conventional wisdom held that the pain would fade, but conventional wisdom had never been too useful for them. Her tattoos had not been warm in months, and it didn't feel like they'd ever warm again.
"Where is he, anyway?" The interjection brought her back to the prisoner on the floor, and earned him a glare.
"Gone." She clipped it off like an assault, and was pleased to see it hit home.
"Gone? You mean…"
"Yes." She hugged her arms to herself at the icy cold. "Gone." It was going to ask questions, and she didn't want to answer them, didn't want to think about the situation, the mountain… "Ty, Red Sun at Night, for the next thirty-one days, you Belong to me. What you have comes only from me, and what you receive is by my will only."
"For the next thirty-one days," Ty's voice caught in its throat. It coughed and continued slowly, "I Belong to you, Shahin Ice-Rapier."
They both waited while the oath settled the air around them, and then, nodding, Shahin slid on her leather gloves and began untying her new Kept. "I have a lot of questions for you," she murmured.
"Could one of them be 'would you like a glass of water?'" Ty asked dryly. "What was going on out there, anyway? You went out - and then you were gone for a few decades, there was some shouting, and now we're going somewhere else."
"And that's all you need to know about that," she answered firmly. "You'll have to settle for beer until we stop; my water-mage is out cold." She uncorked a bottled and passed it over, studying the wounds the bindings had left on it. Hawthorn thorns were nasty, nasty things, as she well knew. It would take Ty a few days to get back to feeling itself.
"Beer works." It quaffed the bottle, licking around the neck with a coy look her way. Keepers and Kept were often lovers…
"Don't leave this wagon without explicit permission." She laid the order down rather than think about taking someone else into her bed. "Don't speak without being spoken to. Don't use your magic, except for defense of yourself or this team from outside threats, without explicit permission. The food is rationed; don't eat more than I or my lieutenants put on your plate. Don't attempt to harm or attack me or any of my team in any manner. Don't attempt to contact Regine, or anyone outside this team."
"Shahin…" the hermaphrodite complained, in a gap between orders. "There's no need for all of this, is there?"
"Enemy combatant," she reminded him. "There's a trundle bed over there, where my grandkids sometimes sleep. You'll sleep there at night, and stay there when I'm in bed, unless otherwise ordered."
Now, Ty twitched. "You won't even let me share your bed?"
"I will," she relented, remembering how much the bond demanded physical contact, "when you have learned what it is to serve. If you see and intend to use a loophole in my orders, tell me."
She looked it over, studying its travel-worn finery. "You will dress in the clothing I give you, and only the clothing I give you. At any time it's a possibility, you will be clean and well-groomed."
"That's not so bad…" it allowed. "Does this wagon have a bath?"
"Stand." There was a sort of heady glee to doing this, after watching first Jamian, and then the other toys through the years, getting yanked around like marionettes. "Follow me."
"Urk." Twitching as it tried to make stiff limbs work, Ty dragged itself after Shahin, into the bath area in the back of the wagon. She took the lid off the already-full tub and muttered a kwxe Working for the boiler. Her captive opened its mouth, then closed it as her orders forced silence.
"You will stand behind me and to my left at all times in public, unless a member of my team is occupying that place, at which point you will stand behind them, or unless you are ordered otherwise. Call me 'mistress' when alone behind closed doors with only other Ellehemaei of my team and I; 'ma'am' when there are others around or we are outside. Only if I invite you into my bed may you call me by my common name. Hold still." She checked the water temperature, and then stripped off Ty's filthy clothes, dropping them into a rag bin "Drop all your Masks."
"Sh…. Mistress!" Ty complained, even as its Masks dropped, to reveal a perfect, smooth body, unscarred and unmarred.
"Keep them down until I tell you that you can Mask again, or if someone else might see you. Get in the tub." She was, she knew, being a bit dictatorial. She had to admit it was fun.
"Wh…" Ty bit its lip, seeming uncertain if speech was allowed.
"You may ask questions now," Shahin allowed, as she picked up a washrag and soap. They both needed the bath, after her battle. Maybe they should share… and maybe that would be a very bad idea.
"Why do you want my Masks off? I never leave them down."
"I want you to be open to me. Entirely bare to me." The water looked too tempting to resist. "Unless or until I tell you differently, make no sexual moves or advances towards me. I'd say 'treat me like your sister..'"
"But we know how that goes," Ty returned, with a ghost of his normal smile. "Yes, mistress."
"Scoot forward," she ordered, as she stripped out of her armor. "We're going to share."
"Not the most conducive to not thinking sexually."
"Ah, but I won't tell you what to think unless you really piss me off." Naked, she slid into the tub behind Ty, straddling her Kept's hips. "I'll wash your back, and you'll wash mine."
"That sounds like a fair deal…. Mistress." The irony was thick in the Kept's voice, but under it, Shahin thought she sensed a note of hope.
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