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01 June 2013 @ 06:22 am
FIC: Serin's Secret Garden, Part 6/18  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: Serin’s Secret Garden
Part: 6/18
Rating: PG/NC17
Configuration: m/m, M/m
Characters: Kendrik/Yaden, Kendrik/Luca, Kendrik/Yuri Dracon
Warnings: slavery, prostitution, rape mentioned, violence, sex, sex on stage, various abuse, severe brainwashing, murderous flora, drugs, potentially underage sex.
Word Count: 2.600/50.000
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index and the Phoenicipedia
Summary: Already struggling to maintain his cover after a few hours inside the Secret Garden, Kendrik has his first lesson…
Feedback: Yes, please! Constructive criticism welcome!





“Err... Are you alright, there?”

It took Kendrik an embarrassing three moments to realize that there was a person standing next to him who had actually asked him a question.

“It’s okay, I’m fine.” he replied, forcing himself to clamp down on all the chaos in his head.

He sat slumped onto the ground in the hallway in front of his cell, effectively locking Luca inside the tiny room. Had he really been considering sleeping with a child? The madness that seeped though the aether of this place must have been affecting him harder than he had feared.

But with a conscious effort, he forced all those worries into a box in the back of his mind. Now was not the time feigning a nervous breakdown. Looking up, he realized that the man standing next to him seemed genuinely concerned. And he looked like a really nice person, if a little out-of-place in his board shorts, unbuttoned floral shirt and worn-out leather sandals. His ridiculously defined abs sure fit the place, though.

“No, really. I’m okay.” Rising from his position on the ground, Kendrik managed to straighten his expression into a friendly smile and reached out his hand. “Hi, I am Kendrik.”

“You know, for a moment, you really didn’t look okay, sitting down there.” The young man’s face lit up in an open smile none the less, revealing a set of brilliantly white teeth in his tanned face. “And I am Ryan. Ondine told me to fetch you for a lesson.”

“You’re my instructor?” Kendrik replied with hardly veiled surprise. The guy was just a little more than twenty years old. Not really what he had expected when thinking about someone who had enough experience to teach other prostitutes. But then again, what did he know about prostitutes? “Good. Really looking forward to learning from you.”

“Sure. Can we go right away or do you need anything else?” Ryan asked, gesturing at the door they were still standing next to.

Kendrik really would have liked to put his shirt back on, but thinking about the boy that was still sitting on his bed, probably wondering what kind of crazy Kendrik was carrying around, made him reconsider his needs drastically. Maybe being clothed wasn’t that important, after all.

“No, I’m fine. Let’s go.”

With a nod, Ryan set off through the maze of corridors of the Secret Garden. Kendrik followed him, curiously peeking left and right to get a better feel of the place. When Ondine had given him his first tour of the ‘backstage’ area of the Garden, she had put on such a brisk pace that Kendrik had hardly been able to look around. Now, with Ryan, he had the chance to actually notice other people walking around, everyone looking calm and diligent and rather professional.

It didn’t take a master spy to see the difference between the whores and the plain housekeeping staff – the staff wore simple uniforms of perfectly nondescript light gray. The actual ‘talents’ of the house were always dressed up – whether they were giving their 'stroppy street kid' routine or the 'naughty Habichtswald maid', their role was always instantly identifiable, almost iconic. In an odd way, it reminded Kendrik of the buzz and chaos of the Phoenix Knight Tower – only that the people working with his husband were laughing every now and then, a sound that was sorely lacking here in the Secret Garden.

“Are you always walking like this?” Ryan asked all of a sudden.

“Huh? What’s wrong with my walk?”

Instead of explaining his question, Ryan only frowned.

“Please, go ahead,” he said, gesturing along the corridor they were in. “Let me watch you.”

Kendrik had no clue what could possibly be wrong with the way he was walking, but he bit down a caustic remark and did as Ryan had asked him to. After all, he was supposed to be willing to learn. And who knew, maybe he would even learn something useful here.

“You are... stomping.” Ryan finally remarked.

“I’m not stomping.”

Instead of a reply, Ryan only looked at Kendrik, a little sad frown on his face.

“Could you try and walk, like, as if you were not wearing ceramsteel armor?”

“And what do you know about ceramsteel armor?” Kendrik flung back without thinking.

He really had to watch his tongue if he wanted to stay here longer than a few hours. It would anger him beyond words to prove Commander Li Ma right. He mustn’t risk his cover just because some whore accused him of stomping.

“Just the usual, I think,” Ryan replied entirely without irony. ”Just enough to credibly pass as a horny Belligra priest raping some heretics.”

For another long moment, Kendrik was struggling to get the images out of his head. He really, really ought to be more careful with his questions. The answers he got were just too hard to swallow.

“People here ask for live-action Belligra porn? Seriously?”

“You really lived a sheltered life, did you? Customers ask for everything.” Giving Kendrik a lopsided smirk, Ryan added: “We have a saying here: if it exists, someone will want to see the porn version.”

“That sounds... disturbing.”

Ryan only gave him a sympathetic look.

“Come on, here’s our room.” he said instead, opening a rather non-descript door they had stopped next to.

Much to Kendrik’s surprise, the door lead to a sunlit courtyard, of all things. Slender columns supported a narrow roof of simple red clay tiles on all four sides, and a huge olive tree in one corner offered shade. The air was fresh and smelled faintly of herbs and freshly mowed hay.

“Goodness.” Kendrik exclaimed, squinting at the pale blue sky above him, trying to see if the feathery clouds were actually moving. “Is this real?”

“The tree is real, yes. The rest is nothing but stage magic.” Ryan replied with a soft chuckle. Seeing Kendrik’s genuine awe, he added: “This is one of the private rooms the Garden offers in case a customer wants something ‘special’. There’s so many of them, I think only Ondine and Madam Tochka know all.”

“Madam Tochka?”

“The owner of the Secret Garden.” Looking around, Ryan spotted a narrow cabinet that was all but hidden in a corner. Rummaging around, he pulled out a huge standing mirror that looked as plain and pastoral as the whole setup.

“Come on,” he said to Kendrik. “Don’t just stand around, help me.”

Swiftly, they carried the mirror out into the sun, onto the packed-dirt courtyard. For a moment, Ryan seemed to survey his work, until Kendrik realized he was stared at expectantly.

“What?”

“Get naked.” Ryan ordered patiently, once again with an irritating lack of irony. “You think we can work on your self-perception when you’re dressed?”

“I’m not even sure what we’re going to do at all,” Kendrik replied flatly. Seeing Ryan’s entirely unamused look, he started getting out of his pants where he stood. Not that they had been hiding much, anyway.

“We start at the beginning.” Ryan explained calmly, quite expertly conveying the impression that he had done this many times and this one wasn’t among his worst. Yet. “You don’t seem to have had any education in your job, but you desperately need it.”

Kendrik finally caught himself before he asked how Ryan had gotten that impression. He was sure he wouldn’t have liked the answer, anyway. So when Ryan gestured him to stand in front of the mirror, Kendrik did as he was told.

“Look at yourself,” Ryan ordered, firm but kind. “Look and tell me what you see, and try to be honest.”

Kendrik wasn’t entirely sure if Ryan knew that he was asking something that bordered heavily on a philosophical discussion. Judging by his looks, Ryan was someone who spent his days surfing on the beach, but then again, this place was all about looks that deceived.

“I see a man, with hair way too long and quite glossy skin.”

“That’s rather good. Not what I would have said, but not wrong either. One could argue about the hair, though, beautiful as it is, but that’s beside the point. How old do you think you look?”

That question brought a tiny smile to Kendrik’s face. Now this was a question he had learned to answer properly since he had come to the Phoenix Empire.

“I look as if I were in my early thirties,” he replied evenly, “maybe a little younger when I dress like it.”

How could anyone know that many of his people had a lifespan much longer than the citizens of the Phoenix Empire? No one here would ever guess that Kendrik was already well in his fifties, and still considered a youngster in his family. And he sure as hell would never tell them.

“Good, so you have put at least some thought in your appearance.” Ryan actually sounded pleased. “Remember that, and remember the way you look when you’re naked. Because that is the one thing you cannot change, and that is what you’ll have to work with. All else, we can improvise.”

“Why would I want to change the way I look?” Kendrik asked, already dreading the answer. He really, really had to start thinking before asking questions here.

“Because that’s the only thing that will keep you from being winterlisted one day?”

“Winterlisted?”

Ryan gave him a long, calm look, as if wondering if his latest charge maybe was a hopeless case after all. Then he gave a tiny sigh, smiled, and started explaining.

“You know the Dracon manual on all things sexual – the ‘Gardening for all Seasons’?”

Kendrik nodded. After all, his husbands had a well-worn copy of those books in their bedroom.

“Basically, spring deals with all kinds of cuddling, summer of plain sex, autumn is all about the kinky stuff, fetishes and bondage. And winter, well, covers all those little games where one of the partners doesn’t necessarily survive.”

Ryan waited until he was sure Kendrik had actually understood what he had just said. Then he added:

“Every owner keeps a list of slaves he doesn’t need any longer, of those who can be used for entertaining along the lines of the ‘Winter Gardening’. And however handsome, talented or unique you are, sooner or later your owner is going to get tired of you, and will put you on that list, whether in his head or on actual paper. And that’s when your time starts running out.”

Kendrik nodded, unable to find the words for any proper reply. He had known all along that people were dying in the bedrooms of ‘proper’ Dracon nobles. But somehow, he had always tricked himself into believing that those were just a few outliers, a handful of truly depraved, sick people.

But of course it was more than that. It was part of the barbarian culture of this Empire. It was so deeply ingrained that the slaves didn’t even see it as the abomination it was. To them, it was just another fact of their lives, like the weather or the color of their eyes.

Suddenly, Kendrik realized that it made a grisly kind of sense that there was so much more despair in the emotions around him than pain and anger.

“The only way to stay alive in our line of work it to excite our masters every day anew,” Ryan continued. “And after a while, that means becoming something different than what we were before.”

“Yes.” That was all Kendrik could say right now.

“Your master obviously cares about you. He wants you to stay interesting, both to him and his peers. That’s why he sent you here.”

Putting on a reassuring smile, Ryan stepped next to Kendrik and put a comforting hand onto the other man’s shoulder. Apparently, he thought Kendrik’s petrified silence came from him being scared about being already winterlisted, and this being his last shot at survival.

“But you’re lucky, you know?” Ryan said, his voice suddenly soft and just a little envious. “With your looks, you can pass off as nearly everything. From grimy soldier to courtesan, all you need is a different hairdo and another posture, and you could pull it off. Everyone can learn to dress up, but it takes the proper looks to make it work. And you can’t change those.”

With his last words, Ryan pointed at their reflections in the mirror in front of them.

“You sound as if you don’t believe you could change, do you?” Kendrik asked.

“And you are dangerously perceptive,” Ryan replied with a tiny, sad smile. “Another priceless trait, as long as you learn to keep your mouth shut, which might just prove a little harder.” Laughing softly, he added: “But yes, you are right. Just look at me. What do you see?”

“Malino surfer boy,” Kendrik answered instantly, almost without thinking.

“Absolutely.” His somewhat sad smile grew as he self-consciously swept a strand of sun-bleached hair behind his ears. “Not that I’m from Malicorn, I haven’t even been there once. But even when I am naked, this is what everyone sees in me. It’s not bad, far from it, but it’s always the same. Best I can do is a surfer boy playing dress-up.”

For a heartbeat, Kendrik wondered if Ryan had already been ‘winterlisted’, given the predicament he had taken so much time to lay out. His concern must have shown on his face, though, for the prostitute laughed out loud, shaking his head.

“Oh, don’t worry about me, sweetheart.” Ryan seemed genuinely touched and amused in equal measures. “Yes, I can only pull of one look credibly. But that doesn’t mean I am a one-trick whore, I have a few aces up my sleeve, after all. I perfectly plan to stay alive for quite a long while still, and work as a trainer to keep earning my bread even after the customers stop being interested in me.”

“That’s... good...” Kendrik was still struggling with the fact that apparently, it was possible to live in such horrid circumstances and still be optimistic about the future. Ryan’s positive outlook was literally mind-boggling to him.

“It’s good enough for me,” Ryan concluded. “But we’ve already wasted enough time talking about me, this is supposed to be about you. We need to get you to understand that you can use your looks to excite your customers, and teach you some basic styles you can start with.”

Feeling somewhat defeated, Kendrik nodded. He was a soldier, not a whore, and this whole mission was miles apart from his usual style.

“You were a soldier before, weren’t you?” Ryan suddenly asked as if having picked up Kendrik’s thoughts. “Think of this as necessary camouflage skill, to lure your enemies into letting down their defenses.”

This time, it was Kendrik who gave a startled laugh. Was he really that obvious?

But Ryan was right – maybe he could muster the necessary devotion to his ‘training’ if he saw this like a special kind of boot camp, as he had thought earlier. And thinking of it this way, it actually seemed that being able to pass as someone else was a valuable skill for a soldier, after all. He could remember quite a handful of occasions where it would have saved a lot of lives if he had been able to just walk through the enemies defenses and clean up from behind.

Maybe this was something really useful for him to learn, after all. And maybe even interesting. He just had to carefully steer away from asking questions.

“Sir,” Kendrik snapped with a crisp salute, rendered just a little ridiculous by the fact that he was still buck naked, “Reporting for training, Sir!”

 
 
 
Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainenmissingkeys on June 1st, 2013 10:44 am (UTC)
I'm falling so much in love with Kendrik. :) Learning more about the Dracons is very interesting (if, as always, somewhat disturbing). This fic is grand. Thank you for this chapter!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 1st, 2013 04:23 pm (UTC)
What, already? ;)
Well, wait until he figures out his special talent...^^
Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainenmissingkeys on June 1st, 2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
What can I say? I fall in love hard and fast for your characters. :)

There's another special talent? Whee!
yingtaiyingtai on June 1st, 2013 01:58 pm (UTC)
I love what you've done with Ryan!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 1st, 2013 04:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you like it, hope the rest will keep up!
idolme922idolme922 on June 1st, 2013 06:53 pm (UTC)
This line cracked me up... ...probably wondering what kind of crazy Kendrik was carrying around ...

I was kinda hoping for more of a description of naked Kendrick (perv in me). Maybe later, huh?

I'm always disappointed when I get to the bottom of the page! More please. I know, three days... #notpatient

osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 2nd, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC)
Damn, you're right. This is something of a missed opportunity... *scribbles down note* I have some other stuff to write first, but damn hell I'll be coming back to this.

Thanks!
Charischarisstoma on June 1st, 2013 07:32 pm (UTC)
I forgot about Dracons and what they'd be like in a brothel
*shudders* or even at home with their 'gardening'.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 2nd, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah well, all those Dracon, always gardening... :D
debbiemethosdeb on June 1st, 2013 09:20 pm (UTC)
loved it,Kendrik just doesn't seem to think of himself as pretty, I guess being a solider first ,that is where his mind goes first, maybe this will be a good thing for him .
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 2nd, 2013 01:46 pm (UTC)
I think this will do tremendous amounts of good for him. :D
And others.
And it will be fun to watch, err, to read. ^^
issuesgrrrlissuesgrrrl on June 2nd, 2013 02:32 pm (UTC)

“You really lived a sheltered life, did you? Customers ask for everything.” Giving Kendrik a lopsided smirk, Ryan added: “We have a saying here: if it exists, someone will want to see the porn version.”

Best description of teh Interwebz ever!

No "unfortunate gardening accidents" for Ryan or Luca, mmkay? Pleeze and thank you! The Dracon Madam on the other hand...
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 4th, 2013 06:48 am (UTC)
Hehe, so true. I stole this one from Rule 34, though - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_34_(Internet_meme)

Well, neither Luca nor Ryan will have any gardening ACCIDENTS. Completely planned events of later seasons might occur, though.

And Madam Tochka? Nah, I don't think she deserves it. Hell, maybe she would even like it. But the customers are all fair game, imho.

Edited at 2013-06-04 06:48 am (UTC)
BerthaBlueberthablue on June 4th, 2013 08:28 am (UTC)
I absolutely adore the Rule 34 reference! Nice to see Kendrik learning a bit more about himself... I think he sounds positively delicious already!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 8th, 2013 04:04 am (UTC)
Well, he IS pretty delicious - after all, he and Yaden basically devoured each other right there in the loading bay of the pebble next to the wreck Yaden had peeled Kendrik out of... ^^

Edited at 2013-06-08 04:04 am (UTC)
BerthaBlueberthablue on June 8th, 2013 04:19 am (UTC)
Do we get to see this? I want ot see this!?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 8th, 2013 04:54 am (UTC)
Yes, you will get to see this. Never mentioned before because that story hasn't got a title yet.
But yes, there will be at least one story for each of Yaden's spouses. Kendrik and Yaden will roughen up the Scilla Republic just a little... ^^
BerthaBlueberthablue on June 8th, 2013 05:07 am (UTC)
Yay!!!