If you missed it, my nonfic book Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous is 25% off this week (ebook only, most retailers)
Content notes: violence (mostly offscreen), fictional slavery, angst/emotional whump, not a happy ending
Luon curled up on his pallet with his back to the wall and tried to ignore his many bruises. It had been a week since he’d been taken into service with his first sen, and it had been a nightmare.
It had begun walking in the door, a proper half step behind his new sen, and having the sen whirl around, grab him, and slam him into the wall. Luon had tried to go limp, to accept whatever the sen wanted. But he hadn’t been able to stop his first initial resistance.
Not that the sen had seemed to care. For all his age and lack of obvious muscle, the sen had handled Luon like a child.
But he hadn’t spoken to Luon — not a word. Nothing to say what he had done wrong. Or why the sen was punishing him. (No further punishment for not immediately submitting, either…) No one else in the household had spoken to him either.
In fact, most of the household didn’t talk at all. The sen had a dozen haoza and several wahin serving him; and only the oldest of the haoza spoke, ever, and only to each other.
His introduction to the household had been typical of the week. Not just the sen, but all the other haoza and the wahin hit Luon constantly. Well, no, not constantly. The other young haoza only attacked when their seniors were in the room. Anytime it was just them, they worked together. If the older haoza or wahin or (worse) sen was in the room, then the question wasn’t if he’d get attacked, but when.
The seniors in the sen’s service had a room separate from the younger haoza, so at least he could sleep in peace. (Though the second night he’d been there, the seniors had snuck in during the night and started hitting everyone. Since then, he and the other young haoza had taken turns sitting up and watching each other’s backs. Not the easiest thing to do without being able to talk, but they’d managed it. When the seniors tried to sneak in again last night, they had all been awake and on their feet in an instant. And the seniors had smiled at them, ruffled the hair of the young woman on watch and left the room. It made no sense.)
It wasn’t just him — the other young haoza were attacked too — and while the seniors never fought in front of them, he could sometimes hear them attacking each other in other parts of the house. The attacks always stopped the moment someone fell to the ground — the one time one of the younger haoza hadn’t stopped when Luon had collapsed, the senior haoza in the room had pulled them off of Luon and beaten them. It was the only beating Luon had seen the entire week.
But the seniors didn’t like it if Luon submitted. They would stop, but they would scowl and assign more work. And the other young haoza didn’t submit to each other — they fought. Seriously fought, as Luon and his friends had done as teens running the streets.
It went against everything he had been taught, everything the priests and his parents had drilled into him… but after the first few days of cowering and trying to understand, Luon had started fighting back, too.
The other young haoza knew the household better and were very good at ambushing him. He hadn’t dared attack them yet — didn’t know if he was expected to or why. By the gods, he didn’t even know anyone’s name because (again) no one fucking talked to him. At all. (Even fighting, everyone was silent. It was unnerving.)
But he was getting better at anticipating the ambushes, at redirecting the blows and retaliating. The senior haoza had made their approval clear. Once, one of the wahin had even taken him aside and shown him a better way to punch! It was impossibly confusing…
Also terrifying. Completely terrifying because nothing made sense, and Luon never knew when he would be attacked, and if the attack was a punishment he was meant to submit to or an… whatever this was that he was supposed to fight back. He didn’t know the rules because no one had told him.
It had all been too much for him to handle. And then today happened.
He had been scrubbing the floors, as he did almost every day, and keeping an eye out for the next ambush. He’d actually seen the attack coming, which made it worse. He’d rolled out of the way of the kick and come to his feet, lashing out in the direction of his attacker.
The blow had landed — barely. It might have been hard enough to kill a fly. But it landed. Only then had Luon recognized who had attacked him — as the sen stumbled backward and collapsed to the floor.
Luon immediately prostrated himself, terrified, horrified, knowing that he was at best going to be severely beaten. At worst… haoza had been executed for attacking their sen — usually only for severe attacks, like trying to kill the sen. But it had happened.
Then the sen had popped back to his feet, ruffled Luon’s hair, handed him /a piece of orange candy/, and walked away smiling. The other haoza in the room hadn’t reacted at all. They with their work as if nothing had happened.
So now he was curled up on his pallet. With his back to the wall and his face to the door. Trembling. He didn’t know what was going on or what would happen next. He didn’t know what had happened.
He clenched the candy in his fist, afraid to eat it but afraid of the sen’s anger if he spurned the odd treat (reward? could it be a reward? For what?! It /made no sense!/)
Luon wished for sleep to come so he could stop being afraid and confused. At least for a few hours.
Been a long time since I got a Vehan short done. If you’ve forgotten, Vehan is my just-for-fun bronze age kink thing. Luon, like Henim and Shoneng, will probably be a recurring character. This story was inspired by a silly bit of Justice League x Danny Phantom fanfic on tumblr. I’ll add the link here when I can find it.
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