Adel, Part 5
In which Adel’s brain is given more food for thought than he can digest just yet. But it’s all good. He’s getting there.
“That’s alright. We can’t always untangle it, ourselves.”
Adel blinked at him. “Excuse me?”
Bathasar chuckled. “Indeed. Even Teman and Nadir care for each other as more than friends and Cyrus and I… well, we don’t love each other, not like we do Teman and Nadir, but we care. More than friends but not exactly lovers.”
“I’m sorry I asked.”
“Now that you are lost, what is on your mind?”
Adel narrowed his eyes. “Sneaky.”
Bathasar grinned unrepentently. “Teman accuses me of that all the time.”
“He would be correct.” He sighed and took a sip of wine. “I am… well, I don’t really know where to begin.” He looked up then frowned as another piece of Bathasar’s relationships prodded him. “Why do they wear collars?”
“That is what’s on your mind?” Bathasar asked, blinking.
“No, no.” Adel shook his head. “No, but I was wondering. If they are not true slaves, why do they wear collars?”
“Oh!” Bathasar nodded and took a deep breath, obviously considering the question carefully. “Yes. Both Teman and Nadir… have a need to serve. They have…” He paused and tilted his head in thought. “They have a deeply ingrained need to please. When Teman first became a slave, before he and I fell in love, he struggled with his slavery. My love is a gypsy, as you know.” Adel nodded and Bathasar continued. “And the freedom that is so important to him caused the slavery to chafe. He struggled with it and when he came to understand his need to serve, it helped him deal with his confinement. When he returned to me, having me put the collar back on him gives him a reminder of a special place he holds in my life. A place that—even with Nadir—no one else holds. That has… shifted, changed a little since Nadir and I fell in love and he and Cyrus recognized theirs. But he still primarily serves me and Nadir serves Cyrus.”
“So, they are… symbols? Of this service?” Adel asked.
“Yes. Neither I nor Cyrus require they wear the collars. Both of them want them. It reminds them of their place, gives them something to focus on, and allows them to remember that they are cherished, their service is cherished.”
Adel frowned. “I never thought of the slavery that way before. Are any of the other slaves like this?”
Bathasar nodded. “Many are. Some are quite happy serving many different masters, others prefer to go back to the same one. Cyrus and Nadir try to match the noble and slave that would best complement each other. Nadir has discovered that he has a way with the nobility that seems to make them more willing to listen to both him nd Cyrus.” He grinned and the only emotion Adel could ascribe to the expression was pride.
“So, those that aren’t like that?”
Bathasar took a sip of his wine. “There are others who do not have the same need to please. Many of them settle into the life of a pleasure slave, simply because they are grateful that they were given a choice. Make no mistake. Every one of our pleasure slaves deserved punishment. They all commited crimes. Even my loves, Teman and Nadir. I… might not have considered some of what they did nearly the same severity as others, but that is neither here nor there. At the time they came to us, they had broken the law. I can be merciful to a point, but I cannot ignore the laws.”
“No, of course not,” Adel agreed. “So they always choose the slavery?”
Bathasar shook his head. “No. There are a few who do not, who are not willing to give up what they do to be slaves.”
“Give up?” Adel asked, raising his eyebrows.
“The pleasure slaves give up control of their bodies, to a point. They are no longer allowed to give themselves pleasure. They are conditioned to arousal—to be aroused and ready for a master at all times—whether they want to or not. And they are locked to a command that they cannot give themselves. They can never again determine when they have an orgasm. It is entirely up to their master or mistress.”
“Oh. I… I can’t imagine being willing to do that.” Adel shook his head. “Do they know this before they agree?”
“Oh yes. But many believe it is a fair trade to stay out of the dungeons. And some, those with that need to serve, to please, are even glad for it. There are a few who have left the slave ranks and even chose to keep those things in place. Teman and Nadir did.”
Adel’s eyes widened. “Even though they do not have to? It can be reversed and they chose not to?”
Bathasar nodded. “Yes. Again, it is a way that they can serve. They give over this control to the one who collars them—Teman to me, Nadir to Cyrus, though we often spend time with both.”
Adel stared into his wine. “That… I’m not sure I understand completely.”
“To be perfectly honest, neither do I. But that is because I don’t have the same need to serve that they do. I have learned to accept it and work with it, for Teman’s and Nadir’s sakes.”
Adel nodded. “That, I can understand.”
“Now, tell me what it is that is bothering you.”
Adel looked up and sighed. “Are you familiar with one of your servants named Ghalib?”
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