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    Demented
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Though not present in every chapter, this story will contain graphic violence and coerced sex/rape, some of which involves underaged characters. Keep this in mind before reading. 

MageCrafter - 3. Chapter 3

Shahnaz’s mood had made a marked improvement since she had found her young Lord’s present. The Tiefling had been so frazzled and despondent over not being able to find this elusive MageCrafter. Her young Lord had sounded so excited to meet this person, even though the lad had never even laid eyes on whomever this was. The young Lord who had balked and waved off every single eligible candidate to be his present had finally found someone deserving of his attention, and to her dismay she had not been able to perform her duty for him.

That despondent feeling wasn’t simply because she was his first Personal Maid either. For Shahnaz, everything in her life before she had become a MageCrafter had been nothing short of misery. While demi-humans all had some level of prejudice levied against them by a decent number of the human population, notwithstanding the other race's own interpersonal grievances, few could boast the level of mistrust and distaste that was brought to bear against her kin.

Thanks to the longstanding belief that tieflings were the offspring of demons and mortals, to be a tiefling meant to suffer. Add on top of that fact the further complication of her being in orphan in a kingdom that held the belief that compulsory indentured servitude for parentless children served the community a great deal more than the ineffectual and costly orphanages of other lands; it was easy to understand how she had ended up being chained in the unforgiving dark basement of a Silversmith’s shop before she had even been old enough to properly walk, and where she had remained for several years.

If you were to ask Shahnaz what her first master looked like, she would not be able to adequately tell you. Not only had it been so long ago, the only times she had seen the man was in the dark musty basement. She was never allowed to look at his face either.

“I’m not going to allow you to steal my soul!” he had angrily roared to her during one of her many whippings. She didn’t recall what work she did down in that accursed basement exactly, everything about that time was muddled in her memories, where the only things that stood out to her were the constant feelings of starvation and deadened misery. The only thing she did know is that she had not actually touched any of his silver merchandise until one day he had demanded she polish some of them out of the blue.

That moment when she touched silver with her painfully thin and tiny fingers, her whole life had suddenly taken a drastic turn for the better. She had felt some sort of jolt sparked through her, filling her body with life as she gazed at the material that seemed to shimmer even in that dark place. It had filled her mind that had only known deadening sadness and abuse with a sense that she was supposed to have this material in her hands. She was made for this. Though her body was starved to dangerous levels of frailness, she felt a spark of life that gave strength to her tired little body and made her tail perk up.

It was only a half hour later that Sargis had come for her. He looked exactly as he does today; that same dark grey hair tied in his prim and proper ponytail. That same deep voice that could rival the tongue of any dragon. That same fatherly gaze that looked at her, for the first time in her life, with genuine compassion and caring. She had never been hugged before the Butler had found her and wrapped her in his large, muscled arms. The girl had thought he was surely going to beat her for feeling so nice about holding silver, but he just held her in that basement, calmly telling her that she would be coming to live at the Duke’s estate.

Receiving her collar had been the best thing that ever happened to her, only to be matched with her first meeting with her young Lord. Oh how the duke and him fussed over her eating food those first few weeks. She had not been used to eating so much, so she had found it difficult to finish her plates.

Her rambunctious young Lord who stood a full head and shoulders shorter than her would have none of her skimping on her meals, however.

“Father said your tummy was really tiny, so we need to get you eating properly so it grows to a normal size. Okay?” her Lord Baldric had sagely explained with the slightest of lisps in his youthful voice. He practically spoon fed the older girl who was supposed to be his Maid in Training, or a Servant as that rank is called.

He always found it funny when he ‘accidentally’ got some on her face, but she could tell his antics weren’t like how others had looked at her up till that point. He didn’t look away from her black and gold eyes and fear that she was going to snatch his soul away, nor did he gawk at her demon like horns. In fact, he loved her bright pink skin, and watching her heart tipped tail swish about in front of his nose never failed to get a giggle out of him.

That’s not to say her young Lord hadn’t caused her his fair share of headaches over the years. She got quite good at running through the halls in full servants garb, calling after her butt naked Lord as he darted about with his arms flailing in merriment. Getting that boy dressed and keeping him that way was a challenge the staff was all too familiar with in his early childhood. They had strategy meetings on the subject even. The moment Maids, Servants like herself or slaves on the estate had taken their eyes off of him, those sly hands of his would get to work shucking off his noble attire far faster than they had taken to put it on him.

Yet she’d gladly take having to keep a scamp from disrobing at any chance he got or the mischievous teasing over the old life she had in a heartbeat. In this place she wasn’t a tiefling, she was a Servant, a Maid in Training as she learned all the tasks expected of her when she attained the vaunted title of Maid and was shown how to craft her own uniform. Bertolde’s Estate over those years became her life, filling her with energy and playfulness that she had absorbed from being around her young Lord.

Of everyone in the Estate, including the boy’s father, Shahnaz had become the chief expert when it came to Lord Baldric. If she said he was going to like something, large amounts of coin could be wagered on her being correct. That had only made the month she had been searching for this wayward MageCrafter all the more disheartening. She knew her Lord was beyond excited to receive this person as his present, and time was growing ever shorter to the date of his Birthday. Despair had filled her heart as she had walked into the Tavern that fateful day in civilian garb.

The maids had all gone undercover, concealing their true nature as Maids with MageCrafted items fashioned after merchant and peasant clothing. Shahnaz flopped into a booth inside of the tavern, cradling her head in her hands as she tried to figure out any last ditch effort she could do to find this blasted person. How did they mask themselves so well? Were they already captured by Babica Preja’s forces? That had been the growing consensus among her fellow maids through their paired communication items they had worn as earrings.

And then it happened.

“Hi there!” a friendly and cheerfully polite voice greeted her, “ My name is Kotik and I will be serving you today. Welcome to The Old Man’s Tavern by the way. Always nice to see a new face here!”

She wanted to pinch this boy’s dimpled cheeks so badly. He was beyond adorable! The pair of cat ears on top of his head seemed to flip about with a mind of their own, monitoring everything going on around him and listening for anything that might need his attention. His thick and quite long tail swayed behind himself in an almost hypnotizing manner. That didn’t even touch on that smile on his face that reflected in those impossibly blue eyes of his. It was everything she could do not to snatch him into the booth with her and tousle those ears of his.

Her Lord would fawn over this lad in a second if he was here!

The Maid staff had figured out long ago that their young Lord was far more attracted to males than he was to the opposite sex. He especially enjoyed the bashful and friendly ones who could blush at the drop of a hat from his teasing. The redder they got, the more he enjoyed being around them. More than a few slave boys in the estate knew this proclivity of his all too well, and the things he would do to get them to squirm and flush was the stuff of legends. He was never mean spirited about it, cruelty was not what the young Baldric was after.

Thorough and total embarrassment flavored with some light humiliation and being teased to the point of having their poor brains proverbially frazzled though, well that was a different story!

He was a master in the art of finding what got a boy to blush, and it didn’t matter if they were a slave or a visiting noble from another territory, he was going to figure out how to get under their skin and tease them into confusion. Lads who had walked into Bertolde’s estate swearing up and down they only had eyes for fair maidens left with far too many mortifying questions about themselves rattling around their expertly toyed with minds.

She had seen one noble boy after another who were friends of his get into fist fights or glaring matches with each other over who would get to spend more time with her Lord. One wanted him to come play on their private beach, trying to pass off the invitation as casually as he possibly could under the circumstances. He’d pretend it was fine whether or not Baldric decided to come or not, and that it wouldn’t bother him if he didn’t, but the fruitive looks he’d shoot her Lord and the way he kept bringing it up only revealed his hand all the more.

Another wanted to bring him to see the mountainous vistas in their estate back home in Irehelm to the south, though the poor thing was so nervous about asking he kept coming to the maids like herself for advice. Where should he ask him? Did he have a favorite time of day? Perhaps this should be over his favorite food? The poor dear had run himself ragged trying to figure out how to say it, only for Her Lord to wait just at the right moment of him sputtering and stuttering at the finish line of asking the lad had spent all that time and energy on getting to, just to put a finger to the other lad's lips and state that he WILL be going to that boys estate. The massive flush in his friend's shy face that her Lord had been building up that whole day made the whole thing worth it.

Then there was probably their most frequent visitor, a fiery tempered lad who by all outward appearances wanted to Spar with her young Lord and yell himself hoarse at him at least once during their visit. Those Temper flair ups never lasted long though, as Baldric would make him sputter and blush long before he got violent with his masterful handling of him. It didn’t help when that same lad would come with surprisingly thoughtful gifts, only to be thoroughly beside himself with how Baldric used that to work his poor frustrated brain into overheating.

She loved Lord Baldric to death, but the devilish scamp was a tease through and through.

Maybe, Shahnaz had thought, even though they hadn’t found this MageCrafter she could show him this Lynxian instead. She knew her Lord well enough to know he would do anything to get such a specimen into his arms. He’d come down personally with an escort of Maids and proposition this cat-eared boy right in the middle of the street if it meant scooping him up and bringing him back to his home.

She thought, with a bit of bemusement, that if this sneak of a MageCrafter was anyone, she sure hoped it was this one. It was beyond unlikely of course, but as she spoke with the server and let him happily take her order, she decided on a whim to do a little scan of the room. She used her scrying item to see if the MageCrafter was among the patrons, or even better, if they were this Kotik. Baldric had enchanted several drops of water with a small spell to see magical auras and dripped them into each of the Maid's eyes with something he called an eye dropper. It had limited uses per day of course, but it was more than enough to find what they were looking for.

She almost jumped out of her seat with glee in the middle of giving the boy her order when the telltale glimmer of his aura glimmered around the server. She needed to keep him there longer.

“Actually, scratch that order. Why don’t you tell me what’s special on the menu today cutie?” To her delight he had flushed slightly at being called cute but was far too polite to chastise her for it, “You look like a bright young man, I’m sure you know of something back there that’d really make my mouth water.”

He smiled brightly at her as his impossibly blue eyes sparkled and his rosy dimpled cheeks glowed with a sense of pride. “Actually I do! I went out hunting the other day and brought back this Chimera, and the regulars have been asking for second plates all the time. That meat goes great with our potatoes we grow in the field out back, especially if you season them right. I just picked a whole bunch this morning and I didn’t see a bad one in the whole bundle!”

He didn’t even sound like he was bragging when he said he had toppled a Chimera, it was just something he did to help out this restaurant! This boy was getting even more interesting! She held him there a few minutes longer, asking all manner of things about himself and what kind of foods he’d recommend as a side dish from the establishment while she stealthily sent her Lord and the Maidstaff the visage of the boy.

Shahnaz had never heard such an excited noise out of Baldric in her life.

“Oh my gods and goddesses above, I’m donating to all of your temples immediately!” squealed her Lord in the middle of her mind from their paired connection, He moved on to address everyone in the loop of this paired link, “ Sargis, get the Maidstaff ready. Shahnaz, you beautiful beautiful woman, please get any information you can and figure out when would be a good time for Sargis to come. With all the Warlock activity in the area trying to find this boy we do not want to risk him getting caught before we mobilize.”

She kept her conversation with Kotik going even as she held an entirely different one in her mind with Baldric.

“How are we going to go about doing that My Lord,” she thought out at him, “They are going to be looking for any and all signs of Maid activity.”

She could feel the determination in her Lord through their paired connection, practically heating up the earring the link was coming from.

“Oh don’t worry about that. Just get me the time and place and I’ll have everything set up. I’ve been stockpiling Attunements within my Lair for almost two years now, and it’s high time I spent some of them.”

A shiver of excitement wafted through her at those words. If he was willing to dip into his savings of attunements that he had been painstakingly dropping into that steam filled chamber of his, she could only imagine what he was going to do. Every individual with magic, be they magic user or MageCrafter, seemed to have on average around three attunements a day to work with. Once their personal attunement limit was met, they would not gather any more until they expended that attunment on a magic item that required it.

This meant that all magic users had to seriously think about what magic items they would employ their attunments on. Magic Items that did not require attunment were highly prized because of this, even though they were not as powerful as their attuned peers.

Lairs were different however. The one who owns a lair not only had their attunments replenished nearly as fast as they spent it within the confines of that room, but they could also store one to three attunement a day inside of it, stockpiling them for far more powerful MageCrafted items that would normally need scores of magic users to utilize. Once that stockpile of attunements were spent, it was gone forever and would need to be built up again.

“What kind of magic item do you plan on crafting for this My Lord.” She asked, her curiosity beyond peaked.

She could practically feel his impish grin as he replied, “Oh nothing much. Just an item that will make one Mother of a Thunderstorm that will dampen any and all scrying efforts for a set period of time within a few leagues of that Tavern. One hundred fold attunement should be enough for that.”

“On-One hundred Fold Attunement My Lord?” Sargis asked with an uncharacteristic hitch to his voice, Not a lot of things would frazzle that orc but this had been one of the exceptions. “I understand the need for caution Lord Baldric, but expending an entire month and several days besides worth of attunements to cast one spell…”

“Think of it as all the days I’ve had to wait on finding this charming and mysterious beauty, plus interest. I was already interested before I even saw this Kotik. Now that I do see him, with the assistance of the lovely Shahnaz,” The tiefling beamed at that, “ I would spend three times as much from my Lair’s reserves to make sure he was mine without batting an eyelash. Now, let's get to work!”

If anyone else had said that, she’d have assumed they were blowing hot air in regards to spending that much magical savings on this. She knew her Lord better than that. He was about to throw a whole lot of power he had been building up for all that time into a monster of a MageCrafted item, to cast a spell the likes of which one only heard about in legends about archwizards or archpriests. If he was going to put that much effort and spend that many resources to make sure this delightful Kotik ended up being at his side, then the Maidstaff needed to be on the top of their game to make that happen.

***
 

Kotik had heard stories of the opulence of Noble and Royal Estates, but seeing it in person was breathtaking. He felt guilty even setting his bare feet on the softest royal blue material he had ever felt, as much as he felt like he shouldn’t be in the presence of the radiant and ornate chandeliers that hung high over their heads from the vaulted ceiling. Lifelike paintings depicting stories he only knew from traveling bards adorned the walls, celebrating heroes of legend and the gods themselves triumphing over demonic forces.

What got to the peasant boy most was just how big this entry way was. He was positive they could fit half of the buildings from the mining town inside of this expansive area, and there’d be plenty of room to spare even after that. Next to what he was looking at, The Old Man’s Tavern felt positively cramped, and that had been the largest building he had known up to this point in his life.

Ever present among all of this was the Crest of Duke Bertolde which hung proudly from banners spaced at even intervals. His gawking was cut short by a tug on his collar from the Tiefling maid. She grinned down at him as she led him down the hall at a steady clip.

“Amazing isn’t it? Hard to believe the whole thing was MageCrafted.”

“Wait really? People like us made all this?”

“A whole lot of them yeah. We aren’t the only Maids and Butlers in this Kingdom cutie, we’re just one dukedom in a much bigger nation. You should see how many of us are at the Royal Palace. You could field an entire battalion from there alone, and that’s not even counting normal magic users.”

This felt so different than what he was used to. Kotik knew the forests, where he tracked and hunted dangerous game. He would bring their meat to nearby towns, trying to scrounge enough coin off of anyone who’d consider doing business with a Lynxian boy like himself. More often than not he was ripped off by a large margin, but he always managed to get enough supplies and food to go out and hunt again. He made more coin when he ran with human adventurers and sold the goods as a group instead of on his own. Even then however, he still got the short end of the deal far more often than not.

It frustrated him, but at the same time he felt being friendly and trying to put his best foot forward with people would benefit himself a lot more in the long run than letting anger overwhelm him. That’s not to say he didn’t snap at people however. When he finally did get angry, finally did let that dam burst, it was beyond terrifying to any it was directed at.

Part of that fear came from the fact that the boy was far stronger than his short and slender body would suggest. Lynxians normally boasted roughly three times the strength of a human of a similar size and build. A brief glimpse at Kotiks exploits spoke to the fact that he was well above that. Thanks to how light his body is, coupled with how much force he could exert, it was not at all strange to see Kotik practically flying from tree to tree with each leap. His grip and flexibility was something else as well. Adventurers, hunters, and villagers alike spoke of a strange cat eared boy who could climb up and down a tree with speeds rivalling a horse at full sprint, and he could do so regardless of what direction he was facing. The lad did not have the slightest bit of fear when it came to things like heights, not when the forests were involved.

One would think that would lead to Kotik having an ego, but to the bafflement of all around him he seemed completely oblivious to how strange his strength was. Couple that with the great care he took to give a good impression and be friendly with everyone, sprinkle in the fact that he was surprisingly sheltered for being so independant, and most concluded the lad was someone to be easily exploited. None dared push their luck too much with the Demi human, but they ripped him off enough that he never got out of the sheer poverty he was used to.

The Old Man put a stop to that however. Kotik had done business with the tavern quite a few times on his rounds from one town to another. The Old Man showed him how to do small things at first, like how to drain the animals he brought to sell and make them easily usable in their kitchens. He learned rather quickly that Kotik had a fantastic memory for things, recalling instructions he had been given days after the fact.

Kotik never got The Old Man’s name. He would always brush off such a question and say for him to call him The Old Man like everyone else. Kotik didn’t question that much further as their interactions got on. He was offered room and board in the Tavern for full time work, but Kotik had turned that down for a different idea. He would have a room in the tavern to store his things and maybe sleep in on occassion, and he would alternate between hunting and working as a waiter in the Tavern. Some days he would hunt, other days he would wait tables and take orders.

He was a natural at being a server. The charm he could use on customers warmed even the most anti demi-human hearts. Though he had been seen as exploitable and gullable in other areas in his life, in the Tavern his sharp mind and attention to detail coupled with his adorable appearance made for a lethal combination. The Old Man ended up having to invest in more tables and booths to handle the influx of customers, and yet the Lyxian never seemed overwhelmed by it all. His ears were always monitoring for problems and he seemed to have a knack for reading a customer's mood and figuring out how to make them happier than when they walked in.

He had taken a lot of pride in that job and became a staple of its business model. He also just really enjoyed being able to help people, even if it was listening to a poor drunk man who had been dumped by his fiance, or surprising burly orc and dwarven miners and lumberjacks with his undefeated arm wrestling streak.

Now he found himself in this opulent place and felt completely out of his depth. He was led along one corridor after another, passing slaves, employees, servants, Maids, and various magic users as they went. This place probably had within its walls more people than the entirety of the small town he had been teleported from. It was mind boggling just how completely alien this all was for him.

That awe he was feeling sparked into near panic when they stepped into a humid room and spotted a large, steaming pool of water filled with soap suds. Both his ears and tail poofed out in alarm at the sight, and he let out a noise that one could only describe as a hiss. Those pupils of his were slitted looking at the water, and he was trying desperately to back up despite the leash that was now taut between his collar and the Tieflings grasp.

She looked at him with a perplexed expression. “What’s wrong cutie, I did say you were going to bathe remember?”

“I thought you meant with a bucket and a cloth!” He squeaked out, panic and alarm evident in his voice as he looked at the soapy water.

The tieflings confusion spasmed into a barely controlled smirk as her eyebrows creased.

“Kotik...are...are you scared of...”

He did NOT like her amused tone right now. This was serious!

“NO! I’m not!”

The tiefling had never seen a worse liar in her life.

“Oh my gods!” As much as she tried to hold it in, sporadic barely controlled giggles filled her voice as she tried desperately not to laugh at the poor thing. “Kotik sweetie, the water is not going to hurt you.”

Another hiss erupted from the boy at even suggesting that water was anything less than evil incarnate. A bucket was one thing, he could tolerate that, but that much water was simply too much! What monster made this room! They must pay!

Shahnaz had to put her fist partially in her mouth and turn away as her body was hit with almost painful levels of mirth. By the gods this boy was too cute for words!

She cleared her throat and put her thumb on her collar.

“Ladies,” the tiefling mentally sent out to the MaidStaff, showing an image of the thoroughly agitated boy before her, “ you’re not going to believe this…Our present to our Water MageCrafting Lord… is afraid of water.”

“NO!” Peals of laughter flooded her mind from several of the maids who shared the paired connection. “We’ll be right over! You might want to activate your strength enhancements in your maid outfit, because I have a feeling we’re going to need it. Lynxians are tough little guys!”

“I don’t think in my wildest dreams I could have imagined a being our Lord would want to mess with more.” Shahnaz added to the link before turning back to the boy.

“Sorry Cutie, but you are getting in that bath one way or another.”

So it’s war then. Fine. Kotik was generally someone who wished to be nice to every being, but there were lines that must not be crossed! Those cursed depths of water will not claim him this day! He refused!

 

***
 

“Unhand me woman! I don’t care if you are Maids, I’ll fight all of you!” Such were the panicked shrieks of a Lynxian boy as he was manhandled by several maids within the tub. The women were quite surprised when they had to devote quite a bit of magic into their uniforms to match their strength with the thrashing creature between them.

However their superior training and coordination eventually won the day, at the cost of several soaked uniforms. They had eventually opted to seizing one of the boys thrashing limbs each, gripping them by the ankles and wrists and wiping scrubbing him down, the whole while speaking in controlled and calming voices to get him to relax. There was a method to their speaking to him as well, sending small waves of magic from a discreet pendant on their clothing that lowered the fight or flight instincts of a creature. Humorously, they normally used such things when handling wild animals they were tasked to train, or when trained beasts became frightened and needed to be corralled.

Shahnaz shook her head even as she scrubbed the sole of the boy’s flexing foot in her grasp, working the lightly enchanted cloth through his toes and over his skin as she looked down at the thoroughly mollified youth. All calluses, injuries, and minor blemishes from years of traveling everywhere without footwear faded with each pass of the cloth till they were smoother than an infant's rump. The same was happening to other parts of his body with their deep cleaning, bringing out the charms of the boy's body even more as they did so.

His ears were still flat as two maids shampooed his hair and tail, and his eyes stared into the distance in a seething but much less panicked expression. His lips were a thinly pressed line of aggrivation, and his cheeks were red with all the exertion he had put into trying to fight them off.

Normally they’d have used his collar to help with some of his anxiety, but it had yet to be paired with the Young Lord and hadn’t been fully activated just yet. There were some functions he could utilize, but with how dead set he was at fighting they did not see it as an option at that point.

“Feeling better now?” Shahnaz asked as she worked up his leg, cleaning him far more completely than the boy had probably been his whole life. The flat, unnamused look she got from the boy almost made her laugh all over again. Though he was no longer fighting, his face spoke volumes as to how grumpy he was about all of this. Unfortunately for him, that flushed angry expression, now that it had been gradually dialed down from its initial apex, was more adorable than it was intimidating.

 

*** 

 

Kotik calmed down a lot more after they had put some distance between himself and that room of unspeakable evil. He had to admit that even though every instinct in his being screeched in alarm at the mere thought of getting in that deep of water, the bath had cleaned him more completely than he had ever been in his life.

His skin actually felt more sensitive now, especially on the soles of his feet now that they were buttery smooth. It allowed him to feel the fabrics of the rugs and the pleasant firmness of the marble floors. His almond colored hair had gained a glossy shimmer he didn’t even imagine was possible. This extended to his Lynxian ears and tail as well, all of which were brushed and groomed to perfection, achieving a level of softness that one could feel just by glancing at it.

He would probably be able to admire their handiwork more if a growing sense of guilt and embarrassment over his behavior didn’t gnaw at him so much. Even with his conscience giving him a mental berating, it took a lot of effort for him to open his mouth, not looking at the Tiefling as they walked.

“I would like to apologize.” His tone said otherwise.

“Oh? What would you want to apologize for cutie?” Merriment danced in her eyes at how he did not like her playing dumb about this at all. It was clear he didn’t want to talk about what happened, but at the same time he was far too nice a kid to not feel bad about fighting people doing their job.

“I don’t know why I get like that. It just sorta happens… that room was still conceived by the evilest of demons.” That last part was said in a grumbling tone. Shahnaz managed to control her face for the most part this time, though inwardly visions of what her Lord would do given this knowledge threatened to break that tentative hold.

“What is this costume anyway? It doesn’t look like any uniform I’ve seen here.”

Even as he asked that they walked into a simple room with one wall that was a mirror and a lot of open room to work in. She looked down at the Lynxian and admired the handiwork that had been put into the dancing attire he was wearing.

“It is clothing worn by dancers from the nation of Bavaram from across the sea. We do trade with them a lot and the young Lord is quite a big fan of this style of dance.”

Now that Kotik had a look at himself in a full body mirror, he wasn’t sure how he felt about these clothes. On his legs were what he wanted to refer to as trousers, but the way they were made was so flowy and loose that it looked more like a long crimson skirt that went down to his ankles. On each leg of this strangely airy fabric there was a split that went up nearly the entire length of his leg to his upper thighs, revealing flashes of his silky smooth skin beneath the thin folds of deep red fabric.

Towards his waist, a band of black and silver was fitted in an asymmetrical way, the expensive looking cloth dipping down and revealing more of his waist on one side than the other end did. His youthful torso was almost entirely bare, save for a similar draping of black and silver that was fitted in that same asymmetrical way around his shoulders, neck and chest. While the right side of his chest was covered completely, by the time the garment had tilted upwards in a near towards his left side, it nearly exposed his nipple if not for the pendant with Duke Bertolde’s crest fastening it the garment snugly in place. His collar, which sported those expensive gems the same hue as his eyes, was now joined with loose fitting bands around his wrists and ankles with small blue gems of the same variety, bringing the whole look together.

“I don’t know of any dancing with weird clothing like this.” He said, yet he couldn’t help twisting and turning in the mirror absent mindedly, looking over his new appearance. “And besides, I’m still not getting how I’m supposed to learn how to dance in what can only be a couple hours.”

“That’s what I’m here to teach you cutie.”

Kotik watched in some amazement as Shahnaz performed a gesture in front of her maid uniform, and all at once it began to move and shape until it resembled what he was wearing. He didn’t think their clothes could do that! What else did those things have that he didn’t know about?

“Now, I’m going to show you a trick with your Collar that you are going to find very useful here.”

“My collar? What does my collar have to do with dancing?”

“It has to do with a lot of things actually. Now, why do you think you won’t be able to learn a dance. Really think about it and explain to me what you think would be the problem in learning the dance in such a short time?”

Kotik was confused, but he did as she instructed him. Something about her voice had taken on a similar kind of tone as The Old Man whenever he had taught him something new. He thought about what she had asked, trying to articulate what the problem was.

“I think I wouldn’t be able to learn it because you need a lot of practice to copy movements of someone else. You can’t just learn to fight in a day, you have to repeat movements over and over again in the right way so your body remembers how to do it when you really need it. Dancing can’t be much different right?”

She ruffled his shimmering hair, enjoying the enhanced softness it now had. “You are a really smart kid, you know that? You’re right, normally it takes a very long time to learn how to do movements like that. However.” she pointed to his collar, “That right there is the most powerful educational tool you could ever dream of having.”

“I thought it was supposed to make me do stuff against my will?”

“Nonono, you’re thinking of Mind Control, which by the way is a complete waste of attunement slots. Even at three fold attunement you get maybe a minute of control and the person acts like a drone. Do I seem like a drone to you?”

Kotik shook his head, but he still looked very perplexed. “But wait, if it doesn’t make me do stuff against my will, what DOES it do? Also, still not seeing what this has to do with dancing.”

“One thing you will learn about magic items here is that small effects that you can cast repeatedly over time are far more effective than trying to make a change happen all at once with an attunement slot.” She pointed to her collar. “This is a magic item that does not need attunement. It has a lot of small effects that uses the body and minds natural abilities to adapt and learn and helps aalong the process more efficiently than you could naturally.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll show you. I want you to close your eyes and think to yourself really hard that you want to follow along with my movements and learn this dance. Give yourself that mental command that you want to learn this dance by following my movements.”

He was nervous, but he did as she said. With his eyes closed he focused in on what she said. She started repeating herself over and over again in a soothing tone of voice, and he found his mental order to himself started matching the pacing and tone of how she was saying it. He had fully expected nothing to happen, but soon enough a strange warmth began to flow over his body and into his mind, the kind of warmth someone tends to feel after exerting their muscles by lifting something heavy.

“Do you feel that? Now open your eyes and follow along as best as you can, watch me in the mirror and stay concentrated on those words I said.”

At first, it seemed like this was having no effect. While her body was moving in strange and mesmerizing ways, shimmying her hips and controlling individual muscle groups with practiced ease, the way he moved was nothing more than a pale imitation of what she could pull off. Yet as the time drew on, he became more entrenched in that repetitive hum of thoughts he had started. Soon his body was picking up where he had been making mistakes before. He learned how to isolate his shoulders so that they remained level while his torso swayed and his hips shimmyed to an unheard rhythm. Soon he found he didn’t need to hold the concentration at all and he was following her movements like he had been attending classes for months, years even.

“Wow!” he let out in excitement as he began to improvise with the knowledge he had gained from watching her so intently. His body seemed to have developed muscle memory for these strangely exotic pelvic movements and flowing arm gestures, and he was quite excited with how easily it had been picked up.

“Impressive! I don’t think I’ve seen someone learn belly dancing in an hour, even with the collar. It’s probably because you were already so athletic.”

“How did I do this? What happened exactly?” Even as he asked this, he couldn’t help but test out the new movements, enjoying the feel of them a lot. Shahnaz had a feeling he would take a liking to this, and seeing the excitement playing on his face only confirmed that.

“The collar used your personal command as a template, and it broke down and healed your muscles a little bit at a time, over and over again in an effort to build up your muscle memory. That’s what that slightly burning sensation was. It's a very small effect, barely uses any magic, but the two alternating effects are cast over and over again into you as you concentrate on learning the task. Basically, it’s designed to teach you at a much faster pace than is normally possible without trying to make it happen all at once with one spell.”

“That’s amazing. I didn’t really understand everything you said, but still, It feels amazing. I feel like I could learn anything like this.”

“You will. Trust me, by the time your finished your training and become a full fledged Butler, you’ll be a forced to be reckoned with. For now though, we’ll settle for adorable belly dancer.”

He flushed at that. He had no idea what belly dancing was until now, and he didn’t really understand why he enjoyed seeing himself move around like this, but he felt like it awoke something in him he didn’t even know was there. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all?



 

Copyright © 2020 Demented; All Rights Reserved.
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I was cackling the whole time I was reading this chapter, it was so adorable! You have officially hooked me, now I need more!!

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delightful story.   I initially wasn't impressed by the story description, but I'm so glad I started reading it.....

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11 minutes ago, GanymedeRex said:

delightful story.   I initially wasn't impressed by the story description, but I'm so glad I started reading it.....

Writing one of those descriptions that'll hook a reader is so friggin hard lemme tell ya. 

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I love the juxtaposition between Kotik's recruitment and Shahnaz':  Kotik feels a loss of freedom--enslavement--whereas Shahnaz experiences liberation. At least, the Duke comes across as benevolent, and we are treated to at least one view of the "enslavement" as a positive, life-changing event.

I love the additional backstory, reinforcing the view of Kotik's personality as endearing but slightly naive. And, yes, we also get that he's cute!  😂

I love Kotik's description of the bath as a "room of unspeakable evil."  The play-by-play of Kotik's cleansing is hilarious, and the irony of the water hater being owned by the water wielder is not lost.

Ah, we begin to see the power of the collar, as it helps to teach Kotik to belly dance. (And what can it do when it is fully attuned to Balric?)

More important, Kotik enjoys seeing himself as a belly dancer. The corruption has started.... 😂😂😂

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1 hour ago, travlbug said:

I love the juxtaposition between Kotik's recruitment and Shahnaz':  Kotik feels a loss of freedom--enslavement--whereas Shahnaz experiences liberation. At least, the Duke comes across as benevolent, and we are treated to at least one view of the "enslavement" as a positive, life-changing event.

I love the additional backstory, reinforcing the view of Kotik's personality as endearing but slightly naive. And, yes, we also get that he's cute!  😂

I love Kotik's description of the bath as a "room of unspeakable evil."  The play-by-play of Kotik's cleansing is hilarious, and the irony of the water hater being owned by the water wielder is not lost.

Ah, we begin to see the power of the collar, as it helps to teach Kotik to belly dance. (And what can it do when it is fully attuned to Balric?)

More important, Kotik enjoys seeing himself as a belly dancer. The corruption has started.... 😂😂😂

You have no idea how much comments like this give me life lol. People really digging into the text is so much fun let me tell you what. 

I have this side idea of Kotik reviewing Water themed movies like The Little Mermaid. Let me tell you what I CACKLE writing those bits. I have no idea where to post them though. 

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Magical theory has always fascinated me, and the idea of enhancing the body's natural abilities to ease learning while still speeding it along is a great use of magic. I can't wait to see what else these collars can do :)

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5 minutes ago, Yeoldebard said:

Magical theory has always fascinated me, and the idea of enhancing the body's natural abilities to ease learning while still speeding it along is a great use of magic. I can't wait to see what else these collars can do :)

I bow to the Alter of Brandon Sanderson's Laws of Magic. I love magic systems that have consistency to them that readers/viewers can follow along with. Avatar The Last Airbender was fantastic at that, and Sanderson's own books are wonderful examples of it in action. 

One of the first things I did for this story was write up the rules for the magic system of this world, so I think you'll be entertained if that's your bag lol. 

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18 minutes ago, Demented said:

I bow to the Alter of Brandon Sanderson's Laws of Magic. I love magic systems that have consistency to them that readers/viewers can follow along with. Avatar The Last Airbender was fantastic at that, and Sanderson's own books are wonderful examples of it in action. 

One of the first things I did for this story was write up the rules for the magic system of this world, so I think you'll be entertained if that's your bag lol. 

I love working with hard magic systems. I tried to include a more soft system in one of my series, and honestly, I try to avoid the magic that I created because it feels too... vague.

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It’s great that the magic system is slowly being revealed in progression alongside with the plot. And as a fan of magic myself, it’s a great way to lead me on. LOL.

But Kotik is terrifyingly cute. I’m scared on his behalf on how Baldric would tease him.

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1 minute ago, Solus Magus said:

It’s great that the magic system is slowly being revealed in progression alongside with the plot. And as a fan of magic myself, it’s a great way to lead me on. LOL.

But Kotik is terrifyingly cute. I’m scared on his behalf on how Baldric would tease him.

 

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I loved the parts of the bath and the way the collar helped him learn. Felines are 90% afraid of water so knowing Kotik was wasn't surprising. 

As for the collar, I wish I had one to help me limber up since my knees will not let me move like I use to. Can you get them to make me one? lol

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