Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Victory's Lament, or, a Comedy of Terror
The trell hiked up her skirt and lowered herself onto the privy seat. Constant licked his lips, leaning over the black basin on his table, the better to watch the image on the water within. Better than I'd hoped for. The image was beyond good. It was perfection. He could see every hair in the downy white fur leading up the trell's lean, muscular thighs. And the faintest suggestion of the heaven between.
Beneath his robes, Constant was granite. But he would not touch himself. With his wife in her laboratory down the hall, that would be suicide.
But he was so very uncomfortable.
Well. Maybe just a little.
A purring voice interrupted him. "Constant?"
He jerked upright. Water sloshed over the edge of the bowl, soaking his lap. "Oh. Val." He flushed. "Hey. Sorry, I was just--"
Valiiya was leaning against the doorway, a vision in red dragon-silk, the sheer garment clinging to her curves. The most beautiful woman in the Nine Kingdoms, he'd been assured when they presented her. Then or now, he'd have been hard-pressed to disagree. Sable hair and carmine lips, storm-grey eyes and skin the color of alabaster. A wizard of his stature could settle for nothing less, they'd assured him. "Sex-crazed and grateful," they'd toasted raucously at the wedding feast. "No better combination and no less than you deserve."
He was beginning to wonder what they'd meant by that, exactly.
Valiiya had That Look about her. "Are you ready, husband?"
Not anymore. His lap was soaked and the trell's image had vanished in the sloshing water.
"Um. A moment?"
The perfect arches of her brows drew together. "Constant? What have you been--"
"Nothing," he blustered. "Security. Can't be too careful. Days like this, nobody likes a wizard."
"You're as red as a vivisection, darling."
She undulated into his room, sheer silk slipping across her skin like a bath of virgin's blood. A slow smile spread her hungry mouth wide. "So. Security. Anything . . . pressing?"
"No," he sighed. "Only the usual."
"The usual." She slipped behind him, nipping at the nape of his neck, sliding her hands down into his robe to tease the gray hairs on his chest and the round belly beneath. And then she stilled. "Security?"
Constant glanced down to see the image re-formed in the bowl. The trell had stepped back from the spell he'd laid in the servants' privy. Her long face and horns in full view as she smoothed her skirts down over her legs. "Uh--"
Valiiya jerked her hands from his robe as if he'd scalded her. "A nanny, Constant? You're wasting your magic and my future sons on a trell?" She looked down at his lap, and her voice rose. "I swear to all the gods, I'll butcher the lot of them myself!"
"It's not what it looks like," he protested weakly.
"'They can't talk,' you told me. 'So they can't spill my secrets.' And now you're the one spilling--"
"Water! Only water!"
Her hand darted down, came back with a handful of robe that she shoved to her nose. It was only water, Constant knew it was only water, but his brow was wet with sweat.
"I thought they might be pinching," he said weakly.
Valiiya let the cloth fall. "Forgive me, my darling. I get so crazy."
"It's nothing," he reassured her. "It's flattering, really."
"It's only that we've been married six weeks already," she said. "And we haven't even tried since our wedding night. Did I do something wrong? Aren't I pretty?"
"You're incomparable," he said. "I was exhausted, is all. From the battle. But wizards aren't like other men, you know. Not even with a perfect wife. Which you are."
To be completely honest, Constant had no idea what wizards were or weren't like. The whole Sand Kingdoms thing had surprised him as much as anyone else. When it was done they'd called him Magus, but the only magic he'd had to give them was the spell that let the generals in the rear talk to their troops on the front. Everything else had been tactics and strategy, and he knew nothing of either. So when the battle was won and the war ended, when they'd given him a feast and a castle and a wife--him, Constant Naught, son of a goatherd and goatherd himself until he'd literally fallen into the secret cave and the scroll within it--what was he suppposed to do? Make his apologies and leave? His mum was thirty years in the grave but she would have come back to box his ears if he'd even thought it.
Valiiya came around the chair, wriggling into his lap in a fashion that was to suggestive what drawing-and-quartering was to chastisement. "Darling."
"But there's work," he protested.
"I shan't have no for an answer." She kissed her way down the side of his neck. Her hair smelled of attar. And of blood, he thought weakly.
"Such sons I will give you, my love."
*Gods and little mercies, what do I do now?*
"Constant? Why are you shaking, darling?"
"Only--only with my love for you. My love."
"There's the man I married." Her hand slipped between her legs, into his robes. He knew what she would find there. Dreaded it, the way he dreaded her.
He winced, sensing her rage as his goats had sensed coming storms.
And then, over her shoulder, his eyes found the bowl. And the image of the trell within, settling down on the privy.
"Oh, Constant." The storm dissipated, and he moaned with the soft heat of her hand on his nethers.
Perhaps he'd survive this marriage after all.
Fun title, but not the right one for this piece. If you have a better, I'm all eyeballs.
This was written at the prompting of the inimitable Chuck W, drew inspiration from a Boing Boing piece about a Japanese ex-CEO getting busted for upskirt photos, and my own desire to write something actually funny. Turns out that despite my best efforts I'm closer to amusing than I am to funny; feel free to punch this one up in the comments section.