The day he moved Adaline from the harems, Zarkon’s advisors were in an uproar. The king’s decision, they said, deviated drastically from not just Drule tradition but strict Supremacy protocol. The nobles of Zarkon’s court, and those of the other nine Kingdoms, would seethe with this knowledge.
“Why move a slave from her quarters if it were not to grant her some small freedom?” an advisor asked with a precursory bow of submission. “Why not just keep her in the harems?”
Another of his advisors stepped forward, “You cannot pity a slave, my King. We fear others may think you are softening if you were to move her. A show of weakness will jeopardize the position of Korrinoth in the Supremacy.”
It was frowned upon to use slaves as courtesans of noblemen. It was because noble courtesans had freedoms slaves of which had no luxury. To take a human slave and personally appoint her as the single courtesan of the Great Demon King not only insulted a two-thousand-year-old caste system, but would be a spit in the face to the propriety of the other nine Kingdoms. His advisors were right; Zarkon’s entire reputation, and that of his world, were at stake.
Zarkon considered his actions, his advisors’ words, and the strong possibility of dire consequence. He ran the risk of exposing inferred weakness if he were to continue making exceptions for Adaline. There could be mutiny. Rebellion. The entire Ninth Kingdom could be swept into a maelstrom of unnecessary war and violence. He didn’t want that, not with his people or the other Kingdoms. He would be greatly overpowered.
Later that night, under the cover of darkness, Zarkon’s advisors had an met with two unfortunate accidents. A new advisor, a haggard-looking witch, was appointed the following day. No one in his court said a thing.
Still, Zarkon wondered if he allowed Adaline too much freedom.
The night of the celebration he said he would allow Adaline her name. That was all. But in the time that followed, Zarkon found himself indulging more and more when it came to Adaline.
First it was the move from the harems. He brushed that off as necessity. Then, when she protested a full two rotations about having to stay with him in his chambers, it was the lavish gift of her own personal quarters.
The freedom to walk a certain wing of the castle on her own soon followed when Adaline bemoaned her boredom. Sitting alone all day, locked in a gilded cage while Zarkon was away at court, was worse than working the slave pits, she said. He enjoyed her when she begged almost as much as he enjoyed the constant exaggeration of her situation, so he allowed Adaline access to the castle library.
It still wasn’t enough.
He gave her dresses and jewels and secretly, a slave of her own to dress her in such a way that he felt like a young warmaster again.
“You’re a beautiful creature,” he said, fingering a string of diamonds in her hair. When the light hit them just right, she shone like fire.
“And you are one so hideous.” Adaline never averted her eyes. Zarkon dropped his hands and leaned over her, pressing her against the floor.
When he called, Adaline was to appear and do exactly as she was told, otherwise there would be consequence to pay. She learned the very first night when she fought to stay out of bed. He had to bind her, pin her, cover her mouth with one hand as he finished. It was exquisite, and Zarkon hoped the following night she would deny him again. He was disappointed. She was at his door just as the light began to fade from the sky.
This night though, Adaline did not want to go out of her way to please him. She had arrived late, and although her hair was presentable and adorned with jewels, she was dressed in a modest slip. She also would not bow. Zarkon had greeted her with a smile and knocked her to the floor.
“Come now, Adaline.” Zarkon chided as he dared to straddle her hips. He eased himself upon her, testing to see how much she could take. This was the only way she would ever see the Great Demon King on his knees. “Surely you can do better. Your tongue has before lashed insults far more insufferable than that.
Adaline gasped, her eyes rolling back, “You’re crushing me.”
“What of it?” Zarkon asked even as he shifted his weight just a little. He felt the rise and fall of her chest once again. “You’re a slave, my personal courtesan who happens to be a frail albeit beautiful human, so why should I even care?”
He watched her eyes carefully, then traced a claw over the swell of her bottom lip. Her breathing hitched and his followed suit when the tip of her tongue met his finger.
“You’re so beautiful, Adaline,” Zarkon said. She had his finger in her mouth, sucking it slowly, playing her tongue over his skin. His thumb caressed her cheek, her chin, gently pressing a claw into her skin. “I want give you everything.”
Adaline offered him a small smile, dropping his finger from her lips. She nuzzled against his hand. “Is that so? The I want—”
Snarling, Zarkon rocked back on his knees and stood, grabbing Adaline by the hair. She was baiting him. Adaline was readying to ask him for the thing she’s always asked since the night of the celebration: her freedom. “You think you can get every little thing? Let me remind you that you can’t. Freedom is not anything I want to give, not while I am king. You are a slave. My slave. Hands and knees,” he said, watching with a smile of his own as she quickly obeyed. A fine tremor worked down her limbs. He wanted to feel the quiver in her body right up against him.
“This gets old rather quickly, don’t you think?” Adaline said to the floor.
“Not to me,” Zarkon said. He walked a circle around her, calculating his next move. Her hair was loose, cascading over her shoulders, revealing the long curve of her neck. Zarkon licked his lips in anticipation. “Never to me. It was your misfortune to have been swept away during a Drule campaign, and to have caught the eye of the Demon King.”
“No,” Adaline said. Her voice, although trembling, held an edge. She turned her head, looking over her shoulder. She had tears in her eyes; it caught him off guard. “It was your misfortune, Zarkon to have fallen in love with me.”
He moved quicker than he expected, his hand flying forward, wrenching the diamonds and Adaline’s hair. She was against the wall, and he was pressing down on her, his hand jerking her chin upwards. He snarled in her face.
“First, you will address me as Master or as the Great Demon King. You are not my equal and I will not tolerate insolence from a slave, even you Adaline,” Zarkon hissed. “Second, I am not in love with you. This is not love. It will never be love.”
Adaline cocked her head, staring into his eyes. For a moment he wondered what she saw.
“Yes, you are.”
The hand on her face moved, sliding down her neck, his claws grazing over her skin. He could slit her throat easily and put away all his doubt forever. Never again would he have to worry about his kingdom falling to ruin, nor would he lose sleep over worry that he would lose dominion over the planets he had conquered in the last century. He wouldn’t have to fear jeopardizing the Ninth Kingdom’s reputation for keeping Adaline as his exclusive courtesan.
“I am not in love with you,” he said.
No more would he have to fear losing his sanity.
The hand on her throat moved to her shoulder, tracing the scar he had left with her some time after the last celebration. Zarkon wanted her alive. He wanted to keep her and take all those risks, but every single day she pushed him little by little to the brink.
“Yes,” she said again, rising on her toes. The hand on her shoulder slipped. “You are.”
She pressed her lips to his and Zarkon closed his eyes. He had a feeling Adaline had hers open.
“You want me,” Adaline said as she trailed the heat of her kiss down his jaw. “You want me more than you had ever wanted any other woman.”
“I do,” Zarkon said, leaning close. His nostrils flared. She smelled sweet, like the powders she used after a soak in the bath, but even more than that he could smell her arousal. It was a sharp, acrid smell that drove him wild, though he wasn’t sure he liked knowing Adaline got off on playing him the fool. She twisted a little, avoiding his kiss when he lifted her higher. “But wanting you and loving you are two different things entirely, my sweet, little whore.”
“For most,” Adaline said, rubbing her body against him. The silk was cool against his hands and soft. It wasn’t much different than her skin. “However, with you Zarkon, I fear those two things are one and the same.”
With a growl, Zarkon pushed a hand between her legs. She opened them wide, staring him down. She hadn’t worn anything underneath. “You know nothing about how I truly feel. But you on the other hand, whore, I can read you like a book. You like this.”
“I like knowing I can weaken the Drule Supremacy’s hold on the universe, even if the only place I can start is the Ninth Kingdom,” she chided, then hissed, pushing Zarkon back when he moved too close. “Your finger is plenty.”
Zarkon laughed and leaned over Adaline. She still avoided his kiss. “It is hardly enough. You don’t get off that easy tonight. Though on second thought, maybe you will. You never can hold back, no matter how much you say you loathe me and my affections.”
“At least put me on the bed,” Adaline said, baring her neck to him. “The wall isn’t comfortable.”
“This isn’t about your comfort; it’s about mine. However, I may reconsider if you will allow me to kiss you.” He flexed his fingers, scraping them inside when Adaline made a small sound.
“Never,” she said, but continued to ride his hand. “I save myself for another man’s kiss.”
“Another man,” Zarkon mused as he stretched her open with another finger. She cried out and flattened herself against him, her eyes heavy with conviction. “You save yourself for another man’s kiss yet you willingly taint your own lips to seduce me to the brink of insanity? That is hardly fair, Adaline, nor does it make any bit of sense.”
Adaline arched back, wrapping her arms tight around his neck. “It’s all political,” she said with a shivering sigh. “It makes every bit of sense.”
In her mind it probably did. Any hit a human could take on the Supremacy was welcome: inciting mutiny among conquered planets, random acts of violence, interstellar deception, and Adaline’s favorite, basic, primal seduction. However, the Drule were a tough lot, tougher than humans. A race of small, pink and brown weaklings would never be the ones to bring down his Kingdom.
“I’ll let you believe it only because I enjoy your kiss,” Zarkon said with a smirk. He had his fingers deep inside her thrusting them in and out. Adaline moaned. She had them well lubricated. “Will you give me another, whore, or do I have to force myself upon you?”
“I think you rather like the idea of forcing yourself upon a woman,” Adaline said, answering his smirk with one of her own. “Either way I lose.”
Zarkon pulled her from the wall, wrenched his claws out of her, and threw her to the floor. He knelt beside her, pressing his lips to her ear. It was the closest thing she would allow to a kiss, so he lingered there, just breathing for a few moments before he said, “Take off your clothes, then go to the edge of the bed and bend over. Prove to me why I’m doing all this for you.”
Allowing him a quick taste of her skin, Zarkon dragged his tongue over her throat. The small whimpering sounds she made heightened his lust. He took her hand in his, pulling it inside his robes. She obliged him with a throaty purr.
“Prove to me… Adaline…”
It was when she felt his lips glide down to the nape of her neck, Adaline pulled away, leaving Zarkon almost breathless from how much of a tease she was. Adaline stood in front of him, her back straight, looking every bit the haughty slave, and hooked her thumbs under the straps of her slip. “I have nothing to prove. You do this because you love me.”
Zarkon watched her slip fall to the floor. “I lust you.”
She said nothing and instead sauntered to the edge of the bed, swaying her hips as she moved. Zarkon watched entranced. When she bent over the mattress, Adaline tossed a look of sheer arrogance over her shoulder. It amused him, and the one thing he really enjoyed was putting insolent slaves in their rightful place.
Standing over her, Zarkon liked the way Adaline struggled when he pushed her face into the mattress. He didn’t want to look at her, not when she stood the chance at beguiling him with her charms. Instead he admired the ridges in her spine, and ran a finger down them, mesmerized with the way Adaline trembled under his touch. She was a frail thing, but so very brave.
“I hope you’re wet enough, Adaline. I would hate to rip you apart again.”
Zarkon would never tell anyone he took pity on a slave when he raped her because he didn’t, not even when he was just a green warmaster enjoying the girls in his first harem. With Adaline though, it wasn’t rape, no matter how much she screamed.
He and Adaline only made love.
“Demon King Zarkon,” Adaline hissed through her teeth. It wasn’t her fault she was made so small, but Zarkon rationalized she would get used to it eventually. She got wetter each night. “I swear on everything I once held dear, I will be your end!”
Thrusting into her as far as she could take him, Zarkon held her hips tight, making her ass move in just the way he liked while pressing her breasts into the mattress. She turned her head, sputtering on a breath, and glanced up at him, narrowing her eyes, looking as fierce as the day she came to Korrinoth barefoot and dressed in rags.
Bending over her, Zarkon stole his first kiss from Adaline. It was an awkward angle, but he fought to press his mouth against hers. Nipping her lower lip, Adaline cried out and his tongue dipped into her mouth for the first time ever. Before this, before Adaline, he had no interest in kissing any of his pleasure slaves. They were good for one thing and one thing only: fucking. Zarkon felt Adaline shudder in revulsion and pressed her face back into the mattress.
“I will be the death of you,” Adaline said. “I will bring you to ruin, I will have revenge on you and your people, and I will enjoy it.”
Zarkon raised her hips, a low growl starting in his in the base of his throat as he continued milking pleasure from her body. It was maddening how tight she was, and if Zarkon didn’t know any better, she was doing it in purpose. “Try all you like, but you will never succeed.”
Adaline screamed, her fingers digging into the sheets, “Zarkon, I will kill you!”
A death threat, but the strange thing was the threat provoked Zarkon further. It made him move faster, grip Adaline’s hips tighter, and much to his dismay, finish much too soon.
He stood with his claws digging into Adaline’s hips, blood dripping over his fingers as he filled her womb with a loud grunt. He kept moving, not wanting it to end, but knew eventually it would. Adaline sagged in relief, reaching between her legs. Zarkon hauled her up by the hair and flipped her over. Her pupils were dilated, but her eyes were narrowed. She was always filled with loathing.
Climbing over her, Zarkon pressed his lips to hers once more and said, “You are welcome to try sticking a blade in my back, my pretty, little whore but remember you won’t be my end if you happen to meet yours first.”
She was a spiteful, ungrateful woman whose temper flared with the slightest spark of confrontation, but he nevertheless fell for her. Perhaps she was right. And perhaps he had better watch his back in the future when they shared the same bed.
Adaline smiled at him, looking wonton and triumphant with her hair flared under her like a new, shining sun. “You lie,” she said in Drule, “You would never do such a thing.”
He would, and it was all the reason he needed to tell himself he did not love Adaline. Zarkon answered her smile with a wide grin of his own.
“Try me,” he said.