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Blood sprayed across Asahi's face. He did not move, not even to flinch, as Zenos's sword flashed out, almost too fast to see, and the commander's throat opened in a violent geyser of arterial spray, painting everything around him bright, steaming crimson. 

The other man was dead before he even hit the ground. Asahi stayed kneeling. He'd closed his eyes calmly to avoid getting any blood into them, and the dead man was still pumping gore from the remains of his throat with enough force and volume that he could hear the gentle splish of it onto the tile floor. 

The clink of Lord Zenos's armor told Asahi that he had moved in front of him, and as Asahi was not yet dead, this indicated that he was perhaps pleased with him. 

"Tell me your name," he said, his voice low. 

"Asahi sas Brutus, my lord," he breathed. Zenos did not remember him, but then Asahi did not anticipate that he would. He did not open his eyes, but sensed a movement in front of him. A long moment passed; Zenos made some noncommittal noise, as though he had looked over Asahi head to toe and was reserving judgement. 

Asahi slid his eyes open just a sliver, and found the point of a katana hovering in front of his face. The sunlight caught the blood dripping down its polished edge, gathering into crystalline ruby beads before dripping to the floor. Asahi drew a careful breath. Every heartbeat in he stood in front of Lord Zenos and still lived was to be savored, as it indicated his approval and, furthermore, his attention. The prince was, in so many ways, like the fiery sun that beat down upon the plains of Yanxia -- indifferent to whether he warmed or burned those who caught his gaze, a powerful presence that dwarfed and swallowed any little lamp brought before it no matter how brightly it shone in the night. 

Zenos's eyes were heavy lidded, as though he were already bored half to death by the business of murder. Gazing down through his long lashes at Asahi, he slowly dipped the point of his sword downwards, underneath Asahi's chin to tilt his face upwards. The point of the katana, razor sharp, plucked at the soft skin beneath Asahi's jaw, more an itch than a cut. For now. 

He could barely stand to look directly at Zenos's face -- it seemed disrespectful, like standing before a god's shrine, or somehow dangerous, like gazing at the sun. Still, it was what Zenos seemed to want, so Asahi obeyed breathlessly. The prince's expression was utterly unreadable. 

The point of the katana left Asahi's throat without cutting, the movement so swift and precise that it was practically invisible. Now the flat of it came to rest upon Asahi's bottom lip, exerting the lightest of pressure like a probing finger. The blade was still wet with the other man's blood; Asahi could smell it the metal-meat scent of it wafting from the drenched edge.

"Clean it," Zenos said, as casually as though ordering a housekeeper to wash his linens, but to Asahi his intention was quite clear. Heart racing and head spinning, he drew back a bit and opened his mouth, eyes studying the blade and judging its width. Like many Doman swords it was sharpened only upon one side, with a distinct curve to it and a small divot along the flat that, whatever it's real purpose, now served to collect the blood that ran along it. 

Gently, with great care, Asahi took Zenos's sword into his mouth. The metal was cold and the blood was warm on his tongue; the taste was not revolting but neither was it pleasant, exactly. If Zenos was surprised by this action -- if he had been expecting some more mundane show of obedience -- he did not show it. Asahi's lips closed around the tip of the blade, and he drew back, sucking the blood from the ilm or so of naked steel. The edge was so honed it parted the skin of his lips ever so slightly despite his efforts to keep it steady between them, so sharp he did not notice the wound until he felt the blood from it pool and spill over, running in a thin line down his chin. 

Zenos turned the sword so the blade stood vertical, edge downward, but did not sheath it, which seemed to Asahi to imply he was not satisfied. Eagerly, he leaned forward, and Zenos tapped him lightly on the cheek with the flat of it before returning the point to his lips once again. "Greedy little creature, aren't you," Zenos said, raising one languid eyebrow very slightly. "Well, go on. Open." 

A simple enough command, if one with a complex series of potential consequences. Asahi bent forward, mouth open as wide as he could get it, tongue pulled back behind his teeth; Zenos thrust the sword into the waiting orifice, deep enough that the point clicked against the uneven surface of his back teeth, prodding him like a machinist investigating an unfamiliar engine. The blade was thin enough that Asahi was not cut yet, but he feared even to breathe lest the inside of his mouth brush against that unyielding edge. 

The upward-curved point of the katana prodded against the roof of his mouth, over the back of his tongue. It drew blood; Asahi could feel it trickling down his throat, mixed thickly with saliva. 

If Zenos had sliced his head in half at that point, stabbed back further and further until the point of his beloved blade burst out the back of Asahi's neck beside his spine, he would have accepted that. Instead, Zenos had another order for him, as simple and complicated as the last. 


Asahi tried to keep his movements steady. He was trembling all over with excitement and terror -- he knew how the prince valued his swords, his well cultivated instruments of death that were as much a part of himself as any flesh. It was an honor beyond words to be allowed to kneel and wrap his waiting mouth around Zenos's cold, naked steel. 

The edge sliced into Asahi's bottom lip, deep enough this time that the sharpness of the sword could not mask the pain of the wound -- surface-level sting and a muscle-deep ache that told him the blade had cut dangerously deep. His vision swam as he slid the sword deeper into his mouth, tongue pulled taut to the side to keep it from splitting in two along the edge -- but that inexorable razor was impossible to fully avoid. Blood pooled in his mouth, in the hollow under his tongue as the flesh fell open, running over his teeth and down the back of his throat. Thick, wet ropes of bloody drool slopped over his mutilated lip, collected at the corners of his mouth. 

All through it, Zenos looked down at him with an expression of vague amusement. Asahi could barely see it through the tears of pain and panic starting in his eyes, but he kept his gaze fixed upon the prince's face -- a single solid point to cling to as the world started to spin and waver around him. His hands trembled, nails digging into his palms, as he struggled not to gag or swallow. It felt like he was drowning, blood flowing freely down his twitching throat. If he passed out now, he might die. 

Asahi laved his mutilated tongue along the side of the blade, the cold of the metal almost comforting against the fiery sting of open wounds. Choking, he forced the sword a bit deeper. Again it pricked the back of his throat. 

Just when Asahi dreaded that he could bear it no longer, the instant before his nerve failed his lord, Zenos pulled the blade out of him. It sliced open the side of his mouth in its exit, but he barely registered the fresh wound. Heaving, Asahi fell forward onto his hands and knees, coughing fresh blood onto the floor, the movement agony. 

The flat of Zenos's sword tapped him on the cheek -- gently, almost fondly. "You are dismissed," he heard the prince say. "We shall speak later." 

Asahi struggled to speak, but found his tongue would not move in his flayed-open mouth. Instead, he bowed his head low as it could go and brushed his lips against the toe of Zenos's boot. Though it was not the proper manner in which to address a monarch, Zenos seemed to accept it nonetheless; Asahi heard the ring of a sword re-entering its scabbard and the click of boot-heel upon tile as the prince retreated, leaving him alone with the other man's corpse. 

Head swimming, Asahi's hands flew to the fastenings of his trousers, fumbling with them. Buttons snapped off under his haste and clumsiness, and his trousers slid down to mid-thigh, his rock-hard cock springing free. Bent double, Asahi palmed desperately at his straining erection, hips bucking into his hand. Arousal and fear churned in his belly; Asahi groaned in strained ecstasy as his last frayed nerve snapped, and he gagged and choked openly as he could not before the prince himself. 

He'd swallowed so much of his own blood that his stomach revolted, his throat convulsing as his body tried to force it all out of him at once. The ghastly noise of his retching echoed off the walls of the empty chamber as he vomited bile and blood upon the floor, over the arm of the dead soldier beside him that lay at a grotesque angle where he'd fallen, over the knees of his uniform. At nearly the same moment his frantic stroking brought him to climax; Asahi let out a long, strangled moan that was halfway a sob, spending over the bloody mess with a full body shudder. Exhausted, tears streaking his face, Asahi fell to the ground curled half-fetal, shaking. A wave of nausea swept over him but his body had no more left to give; he only heaved desperately, blood drooling from his slack lips. 

Someone would come find him soon. The prince's habits were hardly unknown. He would be given medical attention, wounds cleaned and stitched with eyes averted, questions unasked. He had displeased Lord Zenos, they would whisper, and presume the prince had inflicted upon him some unspeakable manner of torture that did not bear thinking about. Asahi would not correct them -- the truth of their tryst was a secret he would keep for the two of them alone. 

Curled up in agony next to the quickly cooling corpse, Asahi began to laugh.