A/N – Just an exploratory oneshot.
Disclaimer – I don't own Daemon, Lucivar or the Black Jewels Trilogy. Don't sue.
The court-bitches of Hayll put on a brilliant display. Bright, polished marble and glittering crystal, sleek, low-cut gowns and extravagant jewellery, all endlessly reflected in the mirrors that hung on every single one of the walls; the gaiety, wealth and sophistication of the High Priestess' court on show for the lesser races to envy.
It appeared so civilised, on the surface.
In Lucivar's experience, the court's barbarity always did.
Look deeper, beneath the glittering surface, and the bright, beautiful ladies had terrible, vicious eyes, their appetites for cruelty and power insatiable. The men, the guards, escorts and consorts, so handsome in their formal wear, were stone-faced, every one of them afraid, knowing that they clung to their freedom by the slimmest of margins; they stank of desperation, willing to do anything to survive.
And always, always, the prized, pampered pleasure slaves –
Daemon Sadi, newly returned to slavery, knelt beside his latest bitch-Queen, his long black-tinted fingernails playing sensuously over her arching, writhing body. The open display of his celebrated skills had drawn an audience; admiring lords and ladies murmured appreciatively, some of them enviously. But though the writhing woman's gasps and moans had many of the voyeurs feeling heated and flushed, Sadi himself was unaffected, his face brutal and cold, and his eyes heavy-lidded and almost unfocused.
Lucivar watched as Sadi brought the woman to noisy orgasm, conscious of nothing but a feeling of disgust and distaste. The gasping whore was so proud to be the first to possess the Sadist, who had finally surrendered to the High Priestess' men after a hundred years of freedom. She thought he had finally been brought to heel, tamed –
The bitch had no idea.
After the public sex show was done, Sadi rose and straightened his cuffs, showing no sign of any interest or arousal, much to the audience's disquiet. Every puffed-up, panting bitch-Queen daring enough to think they could control him always thought that they would be the one, out of the thousands, who could make the Sadist respond. And they were all of them, every single one of them, disappointed. As he strolled off, calm and perfectly composed, the angry whispers followed him – Lucivar grinned to see the look of outraged chagrin dashing the afterglow on the bitch's face.
Judging Sadi's mood to be only moderately foul, he followed him. He had a bone to pick with the Sadist.
Sadi had always been better at Craft, more powerful even when they both wore birthright Red. If, as Lucivar suspected, he had indeed made the Offering during his century away from the courts and come away with the Black, he was more than strong enough to shatter Lucivar's inner chalice and leave him a drooling, gibbering wreck. But in a contest of pure physical strength and prowess, Lucivar would come out victorious every time.
Walking quickly up behind Sadi's back, he grabbed the other man's shoulder and slammed him, hard, against a wall.
"Liar!" he snarled viciously, digging his fingers in hard to pin Sadi down. "Silky, court-trained liar."
Sadi did not deny it. He watched Lucivar with cold, murky eyes, absolutely unreadable.
"You let her drag you back. You could have set yourself up to oppose her, could have conquered half the continent and turned against Hayll!"
"No." Twisting, ducking under Lucivar's arm, Sadi broke his hold and pulled away. "No, I couldn't have. That was made clear to me. Not at that price."
Lucivar stilled as he realised what Sadi meant. "You stupid bastard! You gave into her. What the hell does it matter that she cuts me up into pieces –"
"It matters to me!" Sadi stopped, turned away. "It matters to me."
Lucivar snarled. "Do you think I want my life on such terms?"
There was a curious stillness to Sadi now. "Don't you see?" he asked, still not quite meeting Lucivar's eyes. "There's nothing – no one else to hold me. But I couldn't bear…"
Sadi's futile rage should not have surprised him. They wore the Black and the Ebon-Grey. There was nothing and no one that could hold them to their bonds, if they chose not to wear them – nothing but the terrible, fragile bond of their friendship, of their brotherhood. It was the only thing that could possibly restrain them, and Dorothea and Prythian wielded it ruthlessly.
Sacrifice everything. It is the only way to truly break free.
But when everything around them had already been twisted and corrupted beyond recognition, what else is there but faith? There were some things they would not, could not betray.
He could not remember a time when he did not know Daemon Sadi.
The terrible, taut silence was broken by a carping, pouting little-girl voice. The little bitch-Queen, angry at her public humiliation, had come in search of revenge, stroking the controlling Ring and smiling at Sadi, sugar-sweet and vicious.
"Come here, Daemon," she cooed. "We haven't finished for the night."
Sadi's face blanked, his eyes glowing vicious, enraged amber, as he staggered a little, putting out his hand. Lucivar took it automatically, feeling the strain and tension running through him from the pain of the Ring; as his grip tightened until his fingers were white and bloodless, cutting off Lucivar's blood flow, Lucivar could feel the air growing colder and colder, feel the chill of unseasonable frost.
Daemon refused to give in to the agony, refused to surrender and fall to his knees. Instead, he forced himself upright, and managed to stand straight; shrugging off Lucivar's support, he bowed, straightened his cuffs and regathered his composure.
"Mistress," he crooned softly, all traces of vulnerability erased.
The bitch had not the wit to be afraid.
Lucivar watched them head back towards the house, knowing that Sadi's latest mistress would not last out the night, that she would be another spectacularly vicious kill, another example of just how dangerous Daemon Sadi could be.
He knew how easily it would be for Sadi – for Lucivar himself – to break free. He also knew that neither of them would do it, that they would continue to lash out, to play their vicious games and destroy unwary courts and foolish, expendable bitch-Queens, but that they would always hesitate to step too far over the line –
Not until they found the courage to sacrifice their one, last untainted bond.