?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
10 June 2013 @ 06:13 am
FIC: Serin's Secret Garden, Part 9/18  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: Serin’s Secret Garden
Part: 9/18
Rating: NC17/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: 5.600/50.000
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index and the Phoenicipedia
Summary: Kendrik has to ‘perform’ for customers – and learns new and rather unnerving things about his colleagues, the patrons and himself…
Feedback: Yes, please! Constructive criticism welcome!





From his dark corner, Kendrik observed tonight’s patrons of the Secret Garden. Not all of them, of course. Just the few that were in the same room with him.

Modeled to look like a seedy strip club, complete with runway and poles and booths with plastic-covered seats, it was one of the countless pocket universes within the Secret Garden. There were countless of those pockets, one for every desire and credit line. As long as you paid, the Secret Garden delivered unquestioningly, unfailingly. Kendrik had to admire the professionalism of the whole thing, if nothing else.

There was about a dozen customers scattered across the room, sitting in the half-dark of the booths or leaning at the bar, most of them nursing drinks, smoking tobacco or dakka and watching the show on the stage with half a mind. Currently, the show consisted of two women in lingerie languidly dancing to some scratchy music, nothing that demanded too much attention from the customers. But apparently, it was just what they wanted. A shady hole to hang out and be mostly ignored, maybe occasionally groping one of the pretty waiters and waitresses. The whole setup exuded an air of relaxed debauchery, a gentle indulgence after a gluttony of vices.

Ondine, once again, had guessed right about how to approach the next step of his training.

He was inside the Secret Garden for eleven days now. Kendrik had spent his days learning how to be a whore, and his nights learning how to be a spy. Not that he had done much spying, so far. Mostly, he had spent his concentration on learning how to get his mind accustomed to the toxic background radiation of the Secret Garden. He had to be able to scan other people within this environment without crippling himself in the process. It was as if he was trying to listen for a specific sound while trying not to hear specific others. Tricky, but not impossible.

So when Ondine suggested he was ready to start ‘entertaining’ in this particular environment, Kendrik had been silently pleased. It was a relatively easy place to start listening outwards, the background radiation not as violently toxic as almost everywhere else, boredom and satiation somewhat blunting the feelings of hopelessness, fear and pain and lust.

“Hey, it’s you! What are you doing here?”

It took Kendrik a moment to realize that someone had asked him a question. He had thought himself mostly invisible, quite expertly hiding in a dark corner by the stage. But apparently, that hadn’t been enough to fool Luca. The boy was standing right next to him, carrying a tray with empty glasses and the shorts and staff shirt that were the uniform of the fake strip club.

He looked dazzling, Kendrik thought before everything else, slightly mesmerized at the way Luca balanced the tray on one hand, the other one saucily resting on his hip. And he looked so godawfully young!

“Are you here for my performance?”

“Hi Luca,” Kendrik finally managed to say. “Your performance?”

“Yep, I’m part of the next number.”

“That’s great! What are you doing?”

“Clive’s going to beat me up and rape me.”

“What?!” Once again, Kendrik could have slapped himself for asking. When would he learn not to ask questions he didn’t want to hear the answer to? “But why would he do such a thing?”

“Because he has to? It’s Tuesday,” Luca replied with a horrifying lack of sarcasm. “It’s quite something to have a regular show at my age already.”

“That’s... great.” Kendrik managed to press out. “Really looking forward.”

“You’re such a miserable liar!” Luca chided him with a big smile, winking at him. “Will you be performing tonight, too?”

“Yes.” Still reeling with the shock, Kendrik heard himself talking as if on autopilot. “Mistress Ondine wanted me to sing ‘Moradi Nights’ and a few others, at least until the customers will start throwing things at me.”

“Oh, cool.” Luca seemed genuinely impressed. “We rarely have real performances here, you know, like, artsy stuff. The acting’s quite good, sometimes, but the rest... It looks like a good night for that, too. Mostly burnouts and geezers in the audience. They might actually like it.”

“Thanks.” Kendrik replied flatly. This boy was going to be beaten and fucked by a guy he hated, and still he was trying to cheer up Kendrik who he thought was suffering from stage fright? Something was seriously wrong here. “Will you be around to hear me sing?”

Luca seemed genuinely happy about the question. The smile that grew on his face was one of the most beautiful things Kendrik had ever seen, as brilliant as a shooting star on a sky of midnight blue. “I’ll try. If the doctors let me go, I promise I’ll be watching from the sidelines.”

“That would be nice.” Disregarding everything else, Kendrik was really looking forward to see if Luca like his performance, and he even managed a tiny smile that was returned just in kind by Luca.

“Gotta rush,” the boy quipped, hesitating a moment before rising on tip toes and planting a tiny kiss on Kendrik’s cheek. “Break a leg!”

“Break a leg!” Kendrik replied automatically. And before he could think of anything smart to say, Luca had already dashed off, cleaning tables and looking like a perfect cheap waiter in this perfect cheap club.

There was something tempting, something seductive about the fake realities the Secret Garden offered, Kendrik suddenly realized. He had never had a penchant for any kind of kinky play when it came to sex. But in here, he suddenly began to understand at least one facet of the allure. Wouldn’t it be just so much easier if Luca were just a waiter, and he just the singer in a seedy strip club, somewhere way off the maps where they didn’t talk about slaves and winterlisting? Where ‘probably sixteen’ would be ‘just old enough’? There was an undeniable temptation to that dreamworld.

Smiling wistfully, Kendrik slid back deeper into the shadows of the stage.

Of course, that didn’t change anything. Luca was young, way too young, and working in a brothel that offered its whores to be murdered as a regular part of their menu. It was sick, debased, horrifying. Trying to find anything good or even bearable in this whole situation would not lead to anything good, Kendrik told himself firmly. The Phoenix Empire wasn’t his home, even if his husbands lived here.

But was the Scilla Republic so much better? Really?

It was a place where psions like him were hunted down and enslaved, treated like chess pieces in the murderous games of their senators. Everyone tried to appear civilized, but as soon as one looked underneath the surface, it was rotten. In a way, the gleeful perversions of the Phoenix Empire seemed refreshingly honest in comparison, Kendrik found. What an unpleasant thought, though.

Suddenly, a pain-filled yell kicked Kendrik out of his brooding.

“You stupid little shit, can’t you watch where you’re going?”

Clive, in the middle of the room, shouting at Luca who was sitting on the floor, holding his face as if having been slapped.

“I don’t have eyes on my back,” Luca complained with a perfectly credible mix of anger and surprise. “And if you trip over a waiter, maybe that’s a sign you’ve had enough tonight.”

With an unintelligible howl of rage, Clive grabbed Luca by his flimsy shirt and pulled him off the floor, only to slap him so hard that the boy was spun around and crumbled at the base of the stage.

For an instant, Kendrik had to fight the urge to rush forward and place himself between Clive and Luca. But he could feel clearly that Luca wasn’t afraid, in contrary, he was highly concentrated and putting on a show. That boy was the most talented actor Kendrik had ever seen. If it hadn’t been for his emotions -

And with a slightly startled sound, Kendrik realized that he was reading Luca’s emotions. Of course, a connection to Luca was ridiculously easy, but it still surprised Kendrik that he didn’t feel more of the background radiation in their connection. It was still there, but it felt muted, as if Kendrik was familiar enough to it by now that he could filter it out from whatever signal he was actually looking for.

Right now, that signal was Luca, his focus on putting on a perfect performance, as it was the only thing that kept Kendrik from walking over there and breaking a few of Clive’s bones.

With mute fascination, Kendrik watched as Clive pulled up Luca once again, shaking him until his shirt ripped. Luca was bleeding from his nose, just few drops, but in the pale glare of the lights in front of the stage, it all but screamed on his pale skin.

“Hey, you.” Another waiter had appeared next to Kendrik, looking a little bored. “Baron Yuri wants to see you.”

He pointed at one of the dark booths along the other wall.

“I am just here to sing,” Kendrik explained defensively, struggling to ignore the screams coming from the stage. “My master wants me to remain untouched.”

“He knows,” the waiter replied with a slightly annoyed frown. “Now go, don’t let him wait.”

Taking a deep breath, Kendrik considered his options. Not many, if he wanted to keep his cover intact. If the Secret Garden judged it safe for him to ‘see’ that Baron Yuri, there was a good chance it would be perfectly harmless. After all, the Duke had paid a handsome sum for Kendrik to be kept safe. And so far, the Secret Garden always delivered.

And besides, anything was better than standing here watching Luca getting raped, even if it was just for show.

“Of course,” Kendrik replied evenly, bowing his head as it befitted a well-trained pet. “Anything special he likes?”

The waiter only shrugged. “He’s old as fuck, richer than the Duke of Malicorn and basically owns the dakka trade. Never wanted anything as long as I work here besides drinks.” Allowing himself a sympathetic, crooked smile, he added: “He’s really important, like, really. If you mess this up, your master will get into trouble for it.”

Kendrik blinked in surprise at this outrageous claim. Sure, the waiter had no clue who Kendrik’s ‘master’ was, but still. In any case, someone who managed to gain a reputation of being a drugpusher kingpin here on Serin definitely was someone to be cautious of.

“Thank you,” Kendrik said with another polite nod. “I’ll be careful.”

Squaring himself for the task, Kendrik slowly walked over to the booth the waiter had indicated. On the stage, Clive just slammed Luca over the edge, the boy wailing and pleading him to stop with heartbreaking credibility. If it hadn’t been for the sheer professionalism Kendrik could still feel from Luca, he’d have killed Clive by now.

Arriving at the booth of Baron Yuri, Kendrik for a heartbeat was at a loss of what to do. In the dark, he could only see someone sitting there, nothing more. So in lack of a better idea, he knelt down on the ground like any good slave, keeping his eyes on his knees and waited until he was spoken to.

On the stage, Clive busied himself pulling down Luca’s pants, laughing at the screams.

“Come up here, sit with me.” The voice from inside the booth was soft, but clear enough to be heard effortlessly, belonging to a man who was used to give orders and used to having them obeyed instantly.

Doing as he was told, Kendrik slipped onto the seats of the booth, picking the side that obscured his view of the stage. The less he saw of this, the less he was tempted to fuck it all and just kill Clive.

“Closer.” Again, Baron Yuri’s voice this time was accompanied by a tiny but unmistakable pat on the plastic-covered upholstery next to him. “I want to see your face.”

Obediently, Kendrik slipped closer.

With his eyes slowly getting used to the low light in the booth, he would make out more and more details of Baron Yuri. Of average height, he must have been quite athletic and broad-shouldered in his youth. Now he was visibly old, his remaining hair a short white fringe around the back of his head, his old-fashioned Dracon uniform bulging over a stately belly.

Kendrik couldn’t make out much of his face, but he was sure the other man was studying him closely.

“Where do you come from?” Baron Yuri finally asked.

“Guild Central,” Kendrik gave him the official version he was supposed to use with customers. “Breeding facility.”

“Habichtswald stock?”

Kendrik had already heard that name before, the name of the Noble House that had ruled the Empire before the Dracon took over. The thought that they were considered a viable choice for breeding slaves was chilling.

“Not that I know of, master.”

“And why should you,” Baron Yuri replied kindly, completely oblivious of how patronizing he was. “Who’s your owner?”

“I don’t know his name. But I am to call him ‘the Duke’, master.”

At the mention of the name, Baron Yuri snarled with disgust.

“Your owner and I have a certain business history, the two of us... But don’t worry, dear, I’m not gonna hurt you.”

“That’s so generous of you,” Kendrik replied, but instead of the intended meek gratitude, all that came out was spiteful snark. He really had to work on his acting skills.

“Oh, you’re a sassy one, aren’t you?” Baron Yuri seemed more amused than insulted. “I like that. Come, sit next to me while I watch the show.”

Again, he patted the upholstery next to him, and this time Kendrik forced himself to act all meek. So he slipped next to the old Dracon baron who took Kendrik’s hand and started stroking it, absent-mindedly.

Together with the whimpers and painful yelps that by now were coming from the stage, it was a weird setup. At least, Kendrik wasn’t able to see what Clive was doing to Luca right now, Luca’s professional concentration being the only thing he noticed via his supernatural senses. Although, the more Kendrik listened inwards, the more he noticed that the physical contact to Baron Yuri allowed him to scan the old man, too.

And what an old man that was, Kendrik noted with silent amazement. Not old as in ‘near the end of his life’, he was that, too, but also he had a mind so large and stable that it spoke of many, many years of experiences, of centuries lived.

In Kendrik’s home of the Scilla Republic, everyone lived about two hundred years, due to their widely available technology. Here, in the Phoenix Empire, with their medical technology reserved strictly for the nobility and research hampered until only recently by the church, finding a man who had lived for so long was a rare thing indeed.

But Baron Yuri was also old in the other sense of the word.

He was a man with experiences spanning many decades, but his emotions were running flat. Like dying embers struggling to create a last flame, his feelings never amounted to more than mild amusement or dislike. For some reason, seeing Kendrik had filled him with a bout of melancholia, and even though it made him somewhat unhappy, it was still better than the seen-it-all boredom he usually felt.

A faint pain suddenly brought Kendrik back to his physical senses.

Baron Yuri had gripped Kendrik’s wrist, absent-mindedly driving his thumbnail into the soft spot where the nerves were passing. Through their empathic connection, Kendrik realized that Yuri was just inflicting pain because that’s what he always did, his way of kindling a reaction out of any slave. There was no evil intention, no dark lust, just habit and the complete lack of any moral compunction. Old Dracon were an ugly thing for sure.

With a sharp movement, Kendrik tried to pull his arm away. But much to his surprise, Yuri held on tightly with a force that seemed absolutely unfitting for his physical shape and mental state. But he held Kendrik’s arm firmly in place on his lap, and while he seemed unmoving outwardly, Kendrik could see and feel that now he had triggered Baron Yuri’s interest.

“You’re not a slave.” The baron’s eyes were suddenly alive and sparkling in the low light. “At least, you don’t see yourself as one.”

For a moment, Kendrik was tempted to reply something defusing. But he knew he wasn’t good enough an actor to fool someone who had survived at the center of the Serin drug cartels for so long. So he just shut up and stared at Yuri, which merely created an increased interest and even a faint spark of lust.

“Tell your owner I have a proposal for him.” Baron Yuri said finally. “Tell him I want to buy you, and he can pick the price.”

For the first time since many years, Kendrik felt actually scared. Not that there was any chance in hell that anyone would sell him for any price. But he felt that Yuri was absolutely sincere in his offer. Considering that this was what he did for ‘mild interest’ and ‘a spark of lust’, Kendrik inwardly blanched at what this man would be capable of doing if genuinely incited. The waiter had been absolutely right. This was a truly dangerous man.

Luckily, Yuri then turned his attention back to the happenings in front of the stage, where by the sounds of it, Clive had just finished his ‘punishment’ and was doing up his trousers.

Kendrik found himself tempted to see if Clive had enjoyed his ‘performance’. But as soon as he tried to contact his mind, the searing cold void of despair that filled the ether in the Secret Garden reminded him that he was still far from safe. Reaching for the mind of someone he was in physical contact with, like Baron Yuri, worked nicely. Luca was so close to Kendrik’s mind already that he would be able to contact him across half the empire. But anyone else was still hidden behind a screen of centuries of toxic emotions.

There was still a lot of work to be done before he would be able to come up with any useful information for the Emperor.

“Milord?” A waiter appeared at their booth, bowing in deep deference usually reserved for royalty. “The slave you’re sitting with was scheduled to perform now. Would you like me to rearrange tonight’s performances or would you like him to perform?”

Yuri looked over to Kendrik, his curiosity now trigged for good. “You ‘perform’? What are you doing?”

“I am singing.”

“You?!” Baron Yuri seemed genuinely surprised and let go of Kendrik’s hand, effectively breaking their empathic connection. “What songs?”

A few days ago, Kendrik would have whole-heartedly agreed with Yuri’s skepticism. But by now he was reasonably sure he would be able to put on a good performance, even for such jaded audience as this one.

“I’m supposed to do ‘Moradi Nights’, ‘Dushinka’ and some others. If you allow me to, that is. Milord.”

Yuri had to laugh out loud at Kendrik’s absolutely un-meek tone. “Do you accept requests?”

“No.” With grim amusement, Kendrik noticed the waiter flinching away from them, wordless with horror at Kendrik’s open refusal. “Be nice and I might reconsider.”

Again, Baron Yuri laughed, but it wasn’t a nice sound. “Don’t overplay your hand, little one. You ARE just a slave, after all.”

“And yet I have something that reminds you of a time when you weren’t already dead inside.” Kendrik’s retort was out faster than he could think, and he was just too angry to care. “Maybe after all these years, it’s time for a different approach.”

Considering their situation, Baron Yuri would have had all the right to just shoot Kendrik there and then. But the old Dracon didn’t do anything, he just stared at Kendrik with narrow eyes, stunned out of words.

“With your permission,” Kendrik said into the silence, sketching a bow. “I’m expected on stage.”

Still Baron Yuri didn’t react, and so Kendrik slid out of their booth, half expecting a blaster shot into his back. But nothing happened. Kendrik just walked on, past the other patrons of the bar and jumped right onto the stage where already a stool and a microphone were waiting under a single spotlight.

On the edge of the stage, a smear of blood and semen was glittering, a vile reminder of what had just happened here. But inside the glaring cone of the spotlight, it was easy enough to ignore.

Kendrik could feel Luca close by, exhausted and a little bit in pain, but very satisfied with his performance and full of anticipation. Oddly enough, Kendrik could also feel Baron Yuri in the dark, a quivering mass of loss and sadness. Almost, it made Kendrik feel sorry. But Yuri was still an evil old man who tortured slaves out of boredom. Suited him right.

“Hi, I am Kendrik,” he said into the microphone, probing, startled at the sound of his voice. “I am to sing for you. Hope you like it.”

He was supposed to start with ‘Moradi Nights’, but Kendrik was feeling way too angry to sing about homesickness. He was disgusted, worried, appalled at this place and his emotions had to go somewhere. So he decided he’d start with ‘Dushinka’, a lament of an Espener parent about his ‘disgraced’ daughter. She had been tricked into giving her virginity to a handsome stranger and was now sitting at the window all day, crying and hoping for his return in vain. Considering how Espener stories went, the parent had to be well aware that his daughter was about to kill herself, and there was nothing he could do. The horrified helplessness was something he could really, really relate to right now.

Giving the stagehand a signal, Kendrik waited until the music started, using the moment to wrangle his long hair neatly over one shoulder. The smoke in the air curled around him in the bright light, and all considered, Kendrik felt confident he’d be able to pull this off.

When the music started, he waited for his cue, and just started singing. Kendrik tried not to think too much about it, singing mostly to himself, pouring his emotions into the song. Line by line, he felt himself a little more grounded again, the horrors of this place taking a step back into the darkness, leaving him alone on the stage with his song.

He was already halfway through the song as Kendrik noticed something entirely unexpected.

Like flowers in the dark, the minds of his audience slowly opened to him, one by one blossoming in the toxic void all around. Somehow, they found his performance touching enough, his presence so fascinating that they went into a sort of resonance with him, relaying the emotions of his own song back to him, creating a mundane connection that he could ‘ride’ with his psionic senses.

Suddenly, he could feel himself sitting there on the stage through their eyes, an oddly masculine beauty with mesmerizing hair, his voice untrained but deep and resonant and so full of real emotions it had managed to kick the numbed audience out of their overfed stupor.

They thought he was an artist.

Much too soon, the song was over. But Kendrik felt that the effect seemed to linger. Almost grinning with fascination, he realized that he had literally enthralled his audience.

He signaled the stagehand to continue with ‘Moradi Nights’, and this time, he could feel a wave of excitement run through his audience as they recognized the song after the first notes. A little more confident, Kendrik this time tried to consciously project his emotions through his song, and even though it was nothing but a totally mundane thing, it worked almost better than his psionic abilities. As if the whole room was feeling with him, they were suddenly longing for something they had lost in the past, something they held dear even though it seemed unreachable now.

Kendrik felt his heart pound in his throat with excitement. This was... awesome.

The song finished much too soon as well, but this time one of the patrons rapped his glass against the table a few times, something that passed as applause in this establishment. Considering that usually, nothing that happened on the stage elicited any kind of reaction from the customers, Kendrik’s performance was a raging success already.

But he really didn’t intent on leaving it at that, not even by far.

Feeling slightly bolder, he told the stagehand that he was going to try ‘Saber Dance’, a song about a Cournicova man having duel noble women for his affections, while secretly having affairs with whomever he pleased. It was passionate, dark and just a little bit naughty, with a thumping beat that was nicely evocative of a duel being fought with sabers in the light of a large bonfire. But it was also quite subversive and uplifting, and it was something this rotten place direly needed.

So when the patrons in the dark reacted with mild surprise at his choice of song, Kendrik indulged in a smirk that he hoped would look promising. His connection with the audience by now was strong enough that he could actually tailor his expression to their reactions, fine-tuning his performance in a sort of feedback loop that only he could influence.

Not really reflecting on what he was doing, Kendrik just continued his performance, singing, getting a feeling of his newfound skill. Somewhere in the deep corners of his mind, he realized that he probably wasn’t able to clearly distinguish between his own intentions and what the audience wanted him to do, connected as they currently were. But he didn’t really care, it was like a rush, like a drug, perfect, powerful.

When the song came to the point where it became clear that the Cournicova was playing his potential wifes against each other to have a little fun on the side, Kendrik could literally feel the dirty grins on the audience’s faces, the emotional smog of overindulgence all but forgotten.

But the clean, healthy emotions didn’t last long. Hand-in-hand, there were bitter, searing spikes of desire in the audience’s reaction, driving into Kendrik’s mind like migraine, almost causing him to break off.

He managed to shield himself well enough after a heartbeat or two, but it still served as a clear warning to him. Those were sick people down there in the dark. As soon as he had reached a certain level of desirability in their eyes, some of them were overwhelmed by the urge to destroy him. Their way of admiring beauty was to defile and corrupt it with all the pain and suffering they were able to inflict.

For a moment, Kendrik felt compelled to stop his performance there and then. This was getting too dangerous. What if several of them ganged up and tried to ‘worship’ him right there on the stage? He’d endanger everything he had been working for here.

But then he realized that he was still in a feedback loop with his audience, even if it was muted through his shields. He wasn’t afraid of them. It was them wanting him to be afraid.

Once again, he had made a perfect beginner’s mistake and made someone else’s emotions his own. Kendrik grimaced inwardly, anger roiling up like a thunderstorm, bolstering his defenses and filling him with resolve. He would never allow someone else choose how he saw himself ever again. He had been afraid and ashamed for most of his life.

Never again.

When the song ran out, Kendrik smiled politely at the ‘applause’ that now came from several tables in the dark.

“Thank you,” he said into the microphone, smirking at the individual patrons that he could feel in his mind rather than see them with his eyes. “You are very kind, I hope I will be allowed to perform again here, another night.”

His audience was just as hooked on him as he was on them. The sudden reminder that his performance might end and might never happen again sent a jolt of disagreement through them. Using what little of his psionic muscle he could use, Kendrik rammed that feeling into their minds, driving home the point that his performance, those feelings they experienced while he was performing, were something to be cherished, hopefully repeated, and therefore to be protected. Protected from themselves and all the other predators that lurked in the dark of the Secret Garden.

“My last song for tonight will be ‘In his arms’, I think you all know that one.”

Nodding to the stagehand, Kendrik settled a little more comfortably on his stool, waiting for his cue. ‘In his Arms’ was an old imperial love song, about how the singer couldn’t manage to be a cynic in his lover’s arms, how he couldn’t be worried any longer and the only feelings left were of joy and trust in their mutual future. Most importantly, ‘In his Arms’ had been very popular in the last great war of the Empire, and now carried the cultural connotation of soldiers longing for peace and reunion with their loved ones.

When he started singing, Kendrik had to struggle not to smile widely. It seemed he had managed to inoculate his audience properly – hardly any dark desires any longer, no urge to defile something beautiful and rare. Interest, and joy at his performance was all he could feel from them. Some of them were even startled, realizing for the first time in their lives what ‘In his Arms’ was actually about, for the first time understanding the emotional payload of the song.

Using the song almost like plaster to fixate the emotions he had planted in his audience’s minds, Kendrik slowly realized what a powerful tool he had discovered tonight. Usually, empathic manipulations had to be constantly maintained by the psion, or they would weather away in a matter of minutes, instantly if they were emotions that were completely foreign to the target. But right now, Kendrik was barely using his psionic powers, only passively to read his audience. Their wish to see him perform again had been theirs already, he had only enforced it with his powers and now cemented it with a perfectly mundane song.

If Kendrik wasn’t completely mistaken, this wasn’t psionics. This was mundane emotional manipulation of the highest degree, undetectable for another psion. He had hardly done anything supernatural, only used his powers to grant him insights how to use his mundane skills. Those feelings of protectiveness he had planted would not change any differently from real ones, because for all that mattered, those feelings WERE real.

The possibilities of this were staggering.

The song ended, and this time, there was actual applause. Not long, nothing too excited. But for this place, it was an unheard of reaction.

Smiling, Kendrik smiled one last time, took a deep bow and walked off the stage, the emotional connection to his audience fraying and dissolving as soon as he was out of sight.

Only a few steps behind the curtain, Luca was waiting for him, his face swollen and red, but his expression wide-eyed and beaming. Had the boy been caught in his spell, too, Kendrik wondered. Probably.

“That was fucking great!” Luca exclaimed, applauding softly so he wouldn’t be overheard outside. “Oh god, that was magic!”

“Yeah,” Kendrik replied, flushed and still insecure about what exactly had just happened. “That went quite well, I think, didn’t it?”

“You’re lucky you’re still alive.” Mistress Ondine’s voice cut through the backstage darkness like a knife. “What the hell did you think you were doing?”

“Performing?”

“I have only once in my life seen someone play an audience like that.” Ondine made it sound like an accusation. “And she was a goddamn A class guild courtesan.”

“I... just tried my best, mistress.” Kendrik knew he had royally fucked up in this regard. No former soldier should be able to pull off something like that. Had he really just turned a room of potentially murderous Dracon into loyal and protective fans? “Maybe I am a natural?”

“You’re an enigma.” Taking a deep breath, she obviously decided not to pursue this matter any further, at least not here and now. “Baron Yuri filed a formal request to buy you from your owner. And that was after you insulted him in public.”

“Oh my god!” Luca whispered, shocked. “But he can’t have him, right? You owner won’t sell you, Kendrik, yes?”

“Let us all pray that your master wants nothing Baron Yuri can offer,” Ondine replied before Kendrik could open his mouth. “Though I severely doubt that is even possible.”

Yuri had offered to buy him AFTER he had insulted him? But all the time, he had felt nothing but sadness and longing from the old Dracon, not vengefulness. This all didn’t make sense.

“I don’t think my owner will sell me,” Kendrik said, mostly to reassure Luca. “He and Baron Yuri have some sort of history, and I think my owner will rather spite him than sell me for money.”

That seemed to vaguely calm Luca’s worries, while Ondine raised her hands defensively.

“That is one of those things we at the Secret Garden prefer to remain absolutely oblivious about.” Now clasping her hands, Ondine nodded. “At least, we two now have our work cut out for us, don’t we?”

“Work?”

“Putting together a full show for you. After that number you just pulled off out there, they will be expecting a proper performance of you tomorrow evening. Let’s just hope you’re a fast learner.” Smiling mirthlessly, she added: “You started feeding the dragons, dear. Now you gotta keep them fed, or they will come back and devour you whole.”


 
 
 
Charischarisstoma on June 10th, 2013 05:41 am (UTC)
Does Kendrick know how to psionically kill? It would be so easy to cause a heart attack surely. *shivers*
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 10th, 2013 06:55 am (UTC)
Not yet.

But there is worse things than killing one can do, as Kendrik will find out.
Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainenmissingkeys on June 10th, 2013 02:40 pm (UTC)
Squee! This is freaking awesome. He could take over the world like this. Good thing he (probably) doesn't want to...
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 10th, 2013 05:55 pm (UTC)
Ah well, probably not quite. You really think he's the only one operating on that level? But we'll have to wait until 'The Psion War' to see the workings of that particular can of worms...

And of course you are right - he wouldn't really want to, anyways. Unless he thinks his loved ones are threatened...
talomor on June 10th, 2013 07:59 pm (UTC)
Hmmmmm... "Psion War"... now that's a promising title! Can't wait!
idolme922: redidolme922 on June 10th, 2013 07:06 pm (UTC)
Very intriguing. I still see us no where near the bad (sick twisted)guys who snuff slaves for fun, but I know you are getting us there. This back ground will prove essential I'm sure.

I know... three days!! :D

osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 11th, 2013 06:30 am (UTC)
Hmm... not sure if I can satisfy your bloodlust. I mean, we're not going to see anyone covered in blood or eviscerated live and in detail. Let me know after the next chapter if things are disgusting enough.
idolme922idolme922 on June 11th, 2013 04:04 pm (UTC)
I didn't mean I want to SEE it, just get the bad guys caught. There was plenty of gore in Two Blades! Thanks for clarifying anyway. :)

PS... I love the new cover on Lovers in Arms on FF!!
debbiemethosdeb on June 11th, 2013 01:08 am (UTC)
loved it ,he really loves to bite off more than he can chew doesn't he. Luca needs a good home. I hope when everything is done that they can help me out of there.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 11th, 2013 06:31 am (UTC)
Oh, biting off more than he can chew is a speciality of Kendrik's, at least he thinks it is. Actually, he always scrapes by just so and gets out of it, at least until now...

Thanks for commenting!
Meridaemeridae on June 11th, 2013 06:11 am (UTC)
You know, as bad as Luca thinking being raped for a crowd is 'normal' and something to be kinda proud of and try and do your best for, what's even CREEPIER is that Kendrik kinda seems to be starting to get sucked in by this whole world and 'performing' and using his talents and gifts to be what his master (or other patrons) want him to be. But I guess that's the brain washing bit? And I'm worried Baron Yuri won't give up easily.

Also, should I be finding this more horrible than I am, and what does that say about me?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 11th, 2013 06:34 am (UTC)
Yes, I agree it is creepy, but that is the lot of an empath. But if you were referring to the warning in the header, that's only coming up in the next chapter for the first time. :D

Yes, Baron Yuri will stay with us for a long time. Actually, he already has stayed with us a long time, and made acquaintance with a certain cop couple from Malicorn and their lovely pet, although that will only happen many years from now.

And no, you shouldn't find this horrible. Evil, yes, but mostly entertaining. Because that's what we're all here for, aren't we?
BerthaBlueberthablue on June 23rd, 2013 02:50 pm (UTC)
"It's Tuesday!"

Best reasoning ever!

I love the description of Kendrick's powers and singing :) So fun!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 23rd, 2013 05:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I have to admit that it was my lovely wife who came up with the line, but I agree, it's quite cool.

Thank you as well for mentioning that Kendrik's powers work for you, I'm always a little insecure when writing so much 'magic'.
BerthaBlueberthablue on June 23rd, 2013 05:51 pm (UTC)
I love reading about magic and psychic powers and all sorts of goodies :) It's funny, because I have so little interest in, say, real biology or physics, but made up stuff? YESSSSSSS! Especially when it's done so well.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on June 23rd, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC)
Ooh, thank you, dear.

I have to admit I have interest in both the real and the imagined stuff. Mostly because I know quite well what's possible irl and I am not happy with it. ^^