Story for the Day: The Marked Attendant
Hinnia, like Anelta, is a Marked of Thellis. Here is a piece of Lamir's first evening with her. Enjoy.
The Marked Attendant
It had been a day of trials for Lamir: the early morning spent disciplining a footman he had so longed to receive, the midday passed in heated contempt for the errant Thellisian prince planning to impose upon the borders he had so meticulously preserved, the afternoon expended in the royal assembly being forced to officiate and delegate the stipulations of their attack, and the evening spent at the garrison in preparation for their assault on Varron’s rebellion. A trying day indeed but a significant one, and now that night had come, granting quietude and serenity to his home, Lamir returned to his quarters only to be comforted by his new attendant. The pleasing scent and splendid company of one so docile and divine would be his day’s consolation, and when he entered the main room of his large residence, he exhaled in relief that the excruciations of his day had done and inhaled in hopes that his most deserved repose had just begun.
His quiet step had not roused the attentions of his attendant, who was occupied with tying the hanging silks separating the marble rooms from the alabaster balcony to let in the cool of the evening breeze. This would have been his first command for her, and he was so pleased to see she had done it without being asked that he allowed her to finish her task before calling to her. While she was employed, he observed that everything was in its rightful place: the tea items were on the table, the evening reports on the cushion beside, his chair untucked and awaiting his arrival, and all of this by one he had scolded in the morning. He supposed she had inquired after what he should like in the ways of evening comforts to fend off any further reprimand. Here were many points in her favour, and Lamir remarked his floating object with a subdued countenance. He stood there for some minutes watching her move about in his quarters, flitting from silk to silk without deviation. She had been given suitable clothing for one of such a station, but they should not do for someone with her tall stature, curved form and elegant air. Golden slippers to decorate her feet, wrapped silks to enhance her frame, and transparent veils to guard her beauty from the element would be more fitting for his attendant. He watched her intently, beginning to devise how she would look without the requisite of garments to hinder his examination.
When the last of the drapery was tied back, the attendant turned to find her master giving her stern looks. He must have been standing and waiting for her to hearken him and now he must be terribly displeased. A repetition of this morning’s castigation, though not wholly unpleasant to either party, could not be agreeable for him in such a disapproving state. Perhaps he would punish her in a more vicious manner, and she ran to him, prostrating herself at his feet in supplication. Her breathing quickened as she felt his palm rest atop her head. She thought his hand had come to discipline her, but where she had expected to be taken from the ground with aggressive measures, she was delicately lifted to her feet. His hand molded around her chin and held her features high so that he may torment her with calmness before a violent castigation. She stood and kept her eyes low to honour his rank in the manner she had been used to do as a concubinary piece in Thellis, but a small tap of his fingers against her maw and a command persuaded her to alter her perception of what was about to take place.
“Look at me,” he said in a low and firm voice.
She did look and in so doing had received an exhilarating prospect: the trenchant looks from the lightest and most becoming blue eyes. She had discerned the colour when she was introduced to her lord and master, but had not realized their powers of incursion until being subject to their unwavering attention. They flickered only from eye to eye, across her cheeks and down to her lips, but returned to meet her gaze and continue their ample penetration. His thumb smoothed over her mouth and gave her a chill of delight at his touch.
“Hm,” was Lamir’s curt assessment, removing his hand from her chin. He maintained his gaze and removed the veil shielding her hair. Her long black tresses spilled forth, begging him to touch the curled ends. He began combing her hair with his fingers and marked every lock with a discriminating countenance.
She marveled at his delicate touch and searched his expression for approval only to find austerity, but it was not one of scolding tenor. He seemed pleased, in his way, and began to believe him striking when not dissatisfied or angry with her. His straight nose, taut eyes, upturned mouth, and low, light brows recommended his handsomeness, but his lofty stature, upright figure, stately carriage and confident air secured it, as if he had no need for his attractiveness yet possessed it anyway.
He made a few slow nictations to assure her of his composure. Even if she had been errant, he was too fatigued from the exertion of the day to punish her now. “Come, inpala,” he gently said, standing close with her, “Please me.”
She had little idea of what he meant, but she was soon shown how her lord’s preference for pleasure was very different from what she had conceived. She thought she would be a mere odalisque as she had heard talked of in the Thellisian courts: one made to sit and wait for her lord’s return and serve with open legs and submissive reclination. Within a few moments of watching her lord sit at his table and take up his reports of the dealings around the capital, she witnessed a completely dissimilar Lamir from the one she had seen that morning. He gave her a few orders to demonstrate how he liked to take his repose: a cup of bergamot tea, a light meal of carefully prepared fig leaves dressed with olive oils, a massaging of his fingers when they tired from signing the various documents he must read while he ate, and once these stipulations were met, she was to sit at his side and bask as his personal footman until he gave her further instruction. Such was his pleasure: quietness, solitude, personal attention. She was astonished- more than astonished, she was rapt in good spirits, for here was a true office, one in which she could take of her actions instead of masking them as triumphant gestures. She instantly leapt to execute his commands and did so with the most effervescent of smiles.
His tea was poured, his meal was prepared, and his attendant came to his side, sitting at his feet merely for the easement of having her there. His right hand turned pages and held a quill between his singers while his left hand alternated lifting his silver fork, taking up his porcelain tea cup, and resting atop his attendant’s head where he found further consolation in stroking her black tresses. He said nothing for above an hour, content to be sitting and silent after a day of nothing but speaking and hastening from one portion of the palace to the next. The nourishment of his day’s first and only meal warmed over his body, and he sighed with unmitigated pacification, enjoying the delicate breeze pouring through the apartments and beginning to be at peace with his day.
That her lord was kind was the attendant’s conclusion. She felt now that she had misunderstood him earlier. He had asked to smile she thought due to his need to mock and debase her, but now she must confess she was mistaken in her assumption. He had questioned her and commanded her to observe her understanding and ready obedience. She was sorry for having judged one who seemed now so attentive and considerate as another of the Thellisian master she had been used to serve. The tenderness he conveyed in his touch told her of his care, and when he held out his writing hand for her to massage with warmed lavender oils, she did so with perfect attention. His closed eyes gave her the opportunity to study his face now that he was tranquilized. He was handsome- remarkably so-, blessed with all the grace and allure of a lord without the complacency one of such a station should have. She sat enthralled in fascination, compelling herself to concentrate on his hand lest he be able to see her open gawps through a cracked eye. She began removing his various gold rings from his large hands to facilitate her application, but a few strokes and presses against his worked fingers brought her attention back to his features. She froze: he was looking at her, studying the valley of her breasts and the lines of her neck. She swallowed, looked toward her object of occupation, and hoped that when she had the audacity to look up again his eyes should be closed once more. They were not, however. Her hopes of secrecy in her admiration were ruined by his unwavering awareness. He would not look away, she must not answer, and when she could bear his humiliating gapes not longer, she said in a demure voice, “My Lord finds something worthy of his attention?” She did not mean to be coy, but the instant she said it, a blush of deep remorse flushed her features and she wished it unstated. She attempted to ignore it and continued massaging her lord’s hands until she received a reply she could not discard.
“Yes,” he said decidedly.
Her hands stopped moving and her soft, dark eyes answered his. He took his hand from her and placed it against her maw to cant her head. Her brand was exposed and he traced its outline with the tips of his fingers.
“A shame,” he hummed to himself, his eyes tapering as he inspected the welts of the brand. “To ruin something so perfect.” He dabbed his thumb in the lavender oil and began massaging the mark that had dared to tarnished such excellence. He watched her bend to his circular movements. “It will fade with time, inpala,” he assured her. He stopped and began to consider why she had enjoyed his touch so well: she was a Marked, and though permitted in the palace of Thellis, she was forbidden from being touched by others. This was a notion to please him exceedingly. His interest in her deepened and his want to taste her was roused. A woman so neglected and left to squander her beauty and innocence in the home of his enemies: this must be rectified, and he held immense pride in being the first and only to claim her.