Story Summary: Sephiroth, the mysterious and powerful reptilian king of Midgar, has conquered the minds of men, the lands of Gaia, and even the shadows of Death for over five centuries. But his only true mission is to fulfill his goddess-mother's wish – for him to find his destined mate, the last of an ancient race blessed with Jenova's gifts. His wealth, his harem, his kingdom mean nothing in comparison to his ambition to find his heart's desire. After many ages of searching, will his life's obsession come to fruition in the form of a young slave? How will this bode for the kingdom on the verge of war? Will Sephiroth, an emotionless tyrant, be able to change with a mere slave's gentle guidance?

Pairings: Sephiroth/Cloud, and a surplus of other non-major harem-themed pairings involving Zack, Vincent, Reno, and Tseng.

Warning: This story is a medieval harem AU and contains Yaoi/Slash, Lemon/Hentai (some semi-non-consensual and adult x minor situations), MPREG, Strong Language, and OOC-ness.

If you don't understand what these words mean or are uncomfortable with homosexual themes, then you should not be reading this story. I will not be blamed for your ignorance or prejudice. Flamers will be dealt with by Sephiroth.

This story is not beta-read; therefore any spelling or grammatical errors are solely my fault.

Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII© is the property of Square Soft/Square Enix. Other characters and plot independent of Square Soft/Square Enix's original creation are my property. I, S.W., in no way make any profit from this story. Do not take/use any material from this story without my express permission.

Dedication: "To those who loved this world and knew friendly company therein…"

–Advent Children

My Master's Eyes

By Scarlet Willows

Chapter One

If life had taught me one thing, it was that it could have been far worse.

At the very least, I was not forced to sleep on the hard, dirty stone floor, therefore I didn't have to look forward to neck aches and back pains the following morning. Instead, it was a somewhat mixed blessing that I was given a straw-filled mat that, though it poked me in odd places and had definitely seen better days, was much more forgiving than the floor.

If the straw mat was slightly itchy, it was nothing compared to the drab uniform robe that I'd had the misfortune of donning. My only consolation was the fact that it was free of lice and fleas and it was heavy enough to keep me fairly warm against the harsh Nibelheim climate that wound its way under the drafty doorways and through the rafters. An attendant gave me a clean uniform at the end of the week, the soiled uniform was to be laundered and cycled back to me the following week.

Thankfully I had a chamber pot, which was taken to be emptied once a day (I didn't relish the attendant's job), which meant that there was, unfortunately a smell to contend with, however it was nothing compared to the rumored horror of group latrines, basically benches with holes, that held a substantial lack of privacy.

Even the food, if it could be called that, wasn't something to readily scoff at. While it was a mysterious bland bowl of glop that I forced myself to gag down, at least it was a meal that I could guarantee being pushed through the rectangular slot in the bottom of the door three times a day.

A wash basin was passed through my food slot every other evening…the water might not have been as fresh (as several individuals before me had made use of it) and it was accompanied by a disfigured bar of lye that was somewhat ruthless on the skin, but it was adequate for the task and kept my mind from focusing on other places the soap had been. It was a lesser evil when weighed against group baths. I'd heard stories that other male slaves would, to put it kindly, take advantage of…someone of my build and stature in the common wash rooms. Sometimes even the guards (that were there to prevent something of this carnal nature) would join in. I didn't want to imagine what the women had to endure. It was probably because of this abuse of the bathing system that the slave traders prohibited group bathing and instituted the basins in order to guarantee the purity of the slaves to boost sale prices. I didn't care what the traders' reasons were, after hearing these rumors, I was thankful for it and more than happy to dutifully tolerate used water and dry skin in order to spare my own virtue. At least I was cleaner than most.

I'd heard a lot of other slave houses couldn't boast about the aforementioned…luxuries.

So I counted my small blessings and considered myself one of the luckier ones. A surplus of other slaves around the world didn't have life half as nice as I did. Like I said, it could have been worse.

The cage cells were small, I only had to stretch my arms to touch either side, but I could stand comfortably. It's a mixed blessing that I'm short and petite for my age. The cells were lined against the walls, packed together on either end of the corridor so they outlined an aisle in the center. There were several "showcase rooms" like this one, lined with cells that formed a walkway in between, so there was no telling how many poor souls this slave house held. Three walls of shoddy scrap wood made up my cubicle, the fourth and front being a metal door with a heavy lock and a long, inset barred "window" that looked out onto the corridor so traders, attendants, and patrons could pass by and easily canvas the "selected wares".

I think there must have been some type of organization as to where we were placed to make selection easier for customers. I'd even seen a catalog of slave profiles when I'd first entered this place; after I'd been examined by a healer (standard procedure), they'd asked me questions while a scribe recorded information about my appearance, health, age, even my education level, sexual experiences (or, in my case, lack of), likes, dislikes, skills, abilities and such, writing it all neatly down onto a single sheaf of parchment that was to be filed away into the thick tome that was the main directory. Maybe they put all the blondes along one wall, all the females in that room, or all the pretty or exotic ones on this side...something like that. Maybe they ordered us by age, gender, hair, skin, or eye color, by race and culture, or by rarity. I didn't know the system they followed, but it was all cataloged and it was something to think about; it kept my mind occupied.

Indeed, it was a struggle to keep myself entertained in my cramped cell with only the wooden beams to stare at from my mat. I didn't have much interest in conversing with my neighbors on either side or across the way, but I didn't mind listening to their gossip and rumors, I had nothing better to do and it kept things in perspective for me. Many had come from other slave houses or been resold from abusive masters, others told of scandal from Kalm and how the slaves were trained to enjoy pain. It was stories like these that kept me optimistic and made me grateful to be in this particular slave house, for while it was not a palatial resort, the traders were not overtly cruel. So I was content to listen and learn; besides, I decided it would be better for me not to get emotionally attached to anyone in this place…it was only a matter of time before they were sold to a master and off to a new life. So no one talked to me, and thankfully no one improperly touched me or hit me…that would have been bad for business, according to the traders.

If I didn't talk to anyone, then there wasn't much left to do. To say that the majority of the day was spent in boredom would have been an understatement. To pass the time I counted the lines in the wood and the dents in the stone sometimes. I even took to sharing a miniscule portion of my food with the little brown field-mouse that scurried good-naturedly into my cell in the afternoons, blinking big cocoa eyes at me. I pondered that she had a few other mouths to feed while she let me scratch behind her round, perky ears as she visited and munched on my leftovers, cleaning her whiskers afterwards. If only I could come and go as easily as she. Most days I imagined that I was her.

I spent most nights fighting off the cold while, in my dreams, I battled a darkness that held green snake-like eyes. I'd had the dreams ever since I could remember, so it was not such a sudden occurrence, but the terrifyingly beautiful eyes of the enigma-predator continued to haunt me, violating me in the most private of ways and I'd wake up suddenly in a cold fear-inspired sweat, heart throbbing within my chest as if I'd been running. Perhaps I was running, running from the man with the viper's eyes. Sometimes it wasn't so bad…sometimes I'd remember his voice, even though it was muffled and shielded in the dream; it was a feeling instead of a sound, his voice that is, and, like an instinct, I knew it was as deep as the ocean and the words he whispered in my ear were as soft as the sky even though I could not recall them in the waking realm. It was on those nights that his eyes were gentle and I woke unhurriedly, drifting smoothly into consciousness and…I couldn't help the craving I felt. Craving for what, I did not know, but I could feel it in my gut, driving the fear away and replacing it with intrigue.

But beyond my boredom and dreams, nothing of note took place. Really, the dreams were a relief if anything from the dullness and that was saying something! The only stirring thing that happened was when a patron came to purchase a slave, money jingling in their pockets while the traders fought not to lick their greedy lips. Those days were both exciting and dreadful. The slave house wasn't the best place in the world, but it was safe and our needs were taken care of. A future master was always a wild card…one wasn't guaranteed kind treatment, three meals a day, shelter, or protection. The slave house was familiar, the slave house was secure.

The meager slave house of Nibelheim wasn't as specialized as some of the higher class houses of Junon or Costa del Sol, but I supposed we had a fair enough selection. Of course it fell to reason that the pretty ones never stayed long. They were usually classified as the pleasure slaves, the concubines, and had a significantly higher price. The less-than-attractive ones were usually bought by farmers for labor…we called them plodders or drudges. There was a petty, yet humorous argument amongst the slaves as to which "job title" was worse; the plodders who felt the sweat of their backs from their works, plowing in the fields…or the concubines, who lie on their backs and felt the sweat of another as they're…plowed. I couldn't help but feel sorrier for the concubines; more often than not they were sold to Nibelheim nobles who were…more on the plump side. It seems the richer one is, the more one can afford to eat.

I thanked Gaia that my section didn't receive a lot of traffic. While I knew I wasn't disgusting to look at, I felt I wasn't outrageously gorgeous either, which may or may not have been the reason why I had not been sold (not that I was complaining). Or, I could just chalk it up to my…curious circumstances. My saving grace, I reasoned, was that customers probably didn't have the pallet for my…shall I say, unusual flavor. I could count the patrons that had peered into my "window" on one hand. All three experiences had been terrifying in their own right, sitting under the heavy gaze of a stranger as he criticized my being, debating if I was worth one hundred gold coins. That's all my life amounts to, I'd realized with a bitter thought, a measly one hundred pieces of metal. At least the price had been high enough that they'd decided against buying me. On the whole, I tried not to attract attention and so far my strategy had worked quite efficiently. However, it seemed that luck was not on my side today.

……

"Don' get many foreigners in these parts. But wha' can I do fer ye, Sir? Can I int'rest ye in a plate o' fruit an' bread, or perhaps a drink?" the trader asked in his uncultured and heavily accented drawl, eyeing the good-looking newcomer's strange, but obviously expensive, garb. He could probably sell a slave for twice the amount to this fine foreigner and the man wouldn't be the wiser. It's not like he'd miss the money anyways.

"I'd like to have a look at your merchandise straight away, if it's not too much trouble," smiled the nobleman charmingly, moving further into the foyer and shaking off the cold, brushing the snow from his blonde locks, and handing his cloak to an attendant.

"Yes, o' course," the trader bowed, attempting to brownnose as he flashed a yellowing grin that lacked two front teeth. "Righ' this way, Sir. I am Jondab, the proprietor of this fine establishment," he announced with a heavy dose of swagger, obviously proud that he'd been able to work the words "proprietor" and "establishment" into the conversation. "If qual'ty be what ye're lookin' fer, ye've come to the righ' place! I can guarantee tha' ye'll find no finer slave house for a hundred miles with as wide of an assortment as ours! We've a healer on staff an' all the slaves are checked often for sicknesses. They get regular baths, so's we don' have no skin critters. We have workers, fighters, an' breeders, virgins an' pleasurers, we even have some from Wutai and Gongaga. Of course, if yer tastes are a little more…out of the ordinary, I could point ye in tha' direction as well. Would ye care t' browse our catalog?" Jondab asked, stopping near the entrance to the interior seating room where a few patrons lounged on fairly plush, if not slightly worn, divans, drinking ale and listening to a slave play the lyre as they leafed through several smaller, more specialized catalogs. The trader leaned against a wooden stand that supported a very heavy volume, which the foreigner assumed was the primary catalog that Jondab had mentioned. For being a slave house in some small, backwater town, they were fairly well organized and the foreigner had to smile, though it was clandestinely derisive.

"What I'm looking for is quite rare," the foreigner indicated quietly, skeptical that this second-rate slave trader would even have inkling as to what he was looking for, but it couldn't hurt to try. Jondab nodded understandingly though, his interest piqued, leaning closer as if the foreigner was sharing some sort of secret. "I wonder if you could tell me, master Jondab…" the term was something forced, but the foreigner was trying to be polite. He looked furtively around the room for eavesdroppers for dramatic effect. "Would you happen to have any males blessed with…Jenova's gifts?" Jondab looked a little confused, so the foreigner, fighting back a sigh, substituted the slang term and watched as understanding filled the trader's eyes, "Er, any male breeders?"

"Ah! Now tha' narrows it down a bit. Yer in luck! Our slave house has a higher collection of male breeders than even Junon!" A claim which the foreigner highly doubted. "Currently, we have five, however, two are reserved. Why, we had a fresh new addition come in not jus' two months ago! A native of Nibelheim even. Would ye like t' take a look?"

"Yes, thank you," the nobleman nodded his head to Jondab and prepared to follow the trader down the torch-lit corridor off to the right.

To be continued…