“There doesn't need to be love in order to have a good time in bed.”
I slowly open my eyes, waking up. It takes several long moments for my brain to start working. My memories are hazy... there are just too many of them. Minutes pass while I try to sort through all of them. Zane... yes! That's my name. With great effort, I force myself to sort Zane from all the others.
When I feel like a human being, I gulp and realize that my throat is dry. An attempt to get up yields no result. I am lying spread-eagled on my bed. No, not my bed. “Where am I?” I rasp and start paying attention to other things than the ceiling.
I am in a small bedroom. The bed on which I am lying is large and luxurious. Thin satin bedsheets cover me. The reason for my inability to move turn out to be four, heavy handcuffs which chain my hands and feet to the bed. My left arm feels like burning fire. It tingles as if I was lying on top of it for the entire night.
Turning my head sideways, I find out why. Joyce is there, using my arm as a pillow. She is sleeping. Her expression is totally relaxed, something I never expected to see from a person like her. I rattle on my chain, but they are sturdy and clearly enchanted. “What's going on? What happened?”
Joyce moans and opens one eye while rubbing the other one. That's when the events of last night return to me.
“Don't be so loud,” Joyce mumbles and goes back to sleep.
“Where is Janice?” I ask.
Joyce sighs. “I threw her out and forgot to tell her that she has to take you with her. Being left alone with your unconscious body... I had the choice of leaving you on the ground in my laboratory, or to get you somewhere where you can recuperate.”
“And you chose to chain me to your bed and sleep with me!?” I rattle my chains again. “What's wrong with you?”
The ruler of Illum pulls her hands closer to her body and shudders. “So much noise. Okay, now I am awake.” She sits up and the silk flows down her naked body, revealing her luscious shape. Not minding my presence, she stretches her arms and grants me a perfect view of her...
I look away. “What do you think you are doing? Release me right this instant!”
“Don't be such a clueless prude. I really hoped that Janice's experiment would turn you into a little less of a goody-two-shoes.” She pulls on her lower lip and her gaze wanders up and down my body. “Though I have to admit that I planned to do this anyway. Firstly, as a way to corrupt you further. Secondly, to apologize.”
“Excuse me?” I really don't understand what's going on in that woman's mind... or is she really... No! I shouldn't even go there. It will give me even more headaches. “Just tell me why I have to be tied up!”
“Ah, that's because I feel safer that way. My former master wasn't a nice person. It feels good to turn the tables on a man. You might call it a form of therapy.”
Her fingers wander over my body, which turns my attention to another problem. “Why am I naked?”
“Because it makes it easier to take care of you.” She smiles and touches the tip of the bedsheet-tent which rose against all of my intentions. Not waiting, Joyce raises the sheets and slides on top me. Her nakedness against mine makes me gasp.
Her arms slide around me and she moves further down to nibble on my collarbone. Despite the strangeness of the act, that woman manages to arouse me. I try to protest, “I don't love you.”
“Who cares?” Her undulating hips touch the tip of my erection. Moaning, she slides me completely inside her, just to repeat the process again and again. Her hands force my face into her generous chest and a shudder runs down my spine. My body reacts involuntarily and I thrust, losing control of myself. She simply feels too good.
“Yes!” Her throbbing heat envelops me as her hips fall down a final time.
It takes over a minute until she loosens her grip on me. Sighing deeply, she sits up, pushing back the bedsheets.
“Phew! You really aren't bad. Be glad there is magic to prevent accidents from happening.” Smiling, she uses a finger to draw a circle just below belly button.
“I think that you should let me go.” I glare at her. “Now!”
Joyce wets her lips and reaches behind her to cup my balls in her hands. “Your body says something different.”
An hour later, I am dry and still chained to the bed. Joyce left the room some time ago. I look up and test the chains once more, but somehow they prevent me from using magic. The perfect tool to restrain a magician.
A squeaky voice draws my attention. Moments later, the little fairy flutters into my field of view. Yes! She will help me! “Willow! Get me out of here!”
Willow lands on my chest. She has a cluster of miniaturized grapes in her tiny hands. As if to mock me, she throws one of them into her mouth. “She really did a number on you. The hickeys on your collarbone and on your cheek look as if they hurt. What did you do to warrant such a punishment? Did you confess your eternal love?”
“Nothing of the sort!” I rattle my chains. “Just open them. I'll explain later.”
The fairy shakes her head. “I am sorry, but Nova has my entire hive under contract. I won't do anything to cause her animosity. Especially since my people got to have a reasonable life for the first time in ages.”
“Then water! You have at least some water?” I rasp.
Willow turns to look at the door which leads out of the bedroom. “I guess that she won't punish me for feeding her pet.”
“Pet!?” I squeak!
She rolls off my chest and returns to human size, together with her grapes. Unceremoniously, she shoves one grape into my mouth. I chew and hum as the fruit's cold liquid runs down my throat. Willow feeds me a few more before the door opens and Joyce steps inside.
Both, Willow and I, freeze up in shock. The fairy still has a grape on my lips. She slowly turns towards our employer. “Nova, good to see you! And... This isn't what it looks like.”
Joyce's hair is wet and she is in a bathrobe. Squinting, she observes the scene in front of her. It takes a few moments, then she shrugs. “Don't worry, Willow. I was already done.”
“I would never.” Willow bites her lower lip and looks at me.
I have a bad feeling about this.
Luckily, the fairy doesn't seem to be interested. “Admittedly, he has nice abs... but... even if I would want to, you made sure that he will be almost useless for at least another day. If not two.”
Joyce shrugs and comes closer, revealing a key. She opens the handcuffs and gestures at a pile of clothes next to the bed. Joyce presses the key into my hand, allowing me to open the cuffs on my legs myself. “Get dressed, you are needed in front of the office. I'll sleep in.”
“Office?” I quickly open the cuffs and get dressed in record speed. “Who knows that I am here!?”
“Indeed. Isn't it a little early?” Willow asks.
“His parents want to know where he is.” Joyce shoves the fairy out of her bed and lies down, covering her head with a pillow.
I yawn and place both legs on top of my office table. “I had a wild ride, so at least try not to take too much of my time.”
Janice raises an eyebrow. “What's your impression of Zane?”
“He seems to be fine. Congratulations. I really thought that you would fry his brain.” I cross my arms in front of my chest. “Though, how effective your experiment was remains to be seen. While it didn't look like he has a lasting injury, he also doesn't seem to be stronger.”
“Give him some time to get used to his new memories. He gained decades, maybe even centuries of experience. It's impossible to make sense of everything in a single night.” Janice pulls a chair towards her. “More importantly, what are your immediate plans for the future? I think that by now, everyone on Illum knows that you have an affair with Zane.”
I shrug. “Let them talk. I am the ruler of Illum and if they want to complain, then they can leave by jumping off the island. I certainly won't turn Illum around for someone who tries to tell me what to do. And regarding our next destination, we'll visit the World Assembly to promote Illum's independence.” I call up a map of the world and enlarge it for Janice.
The Sovereign leans forward and studies the hologram. “You might want to add a few updates. My spies informed me that there are some recent changes to the Sociocrathy's border.”
I clear my throat and try to sound clueless. “Changes?”
“Yes. If I believe my sources, then the orcs started to move against the Sociocrathy. They destroyed a fort and pillaged the trading town which is located a few miles behind the border. They moved in several small raiding groups. The public is frightened. Thousands are trying to get as far away from Westfall as possible. If the Sociocrathy had its attention focused on us, then that's surely no longer the case.” Janice leans back. “There is another interesting detail. Some of the raiding parties were caught before they managed to retreat. It seems like the orcs got their weapons from the Empire. The Sociocrathy is outraged.”
Scratching my chin, I purse my lips. “That's understandable. The Sociocrathy and the Empire had an unspoken agreement of neutrality for over a century. Now the Empire clearly equipped the enemies of the Sociocrathy with weapons. I would feel betrayed.”
Janice nods slowly and smiles. “Not to forget, there is the hostility between the Empire and the Alliance. They are already amassing their troops at the Eternal Battlefield. If I believe Zane's judgement, then it's just a matter of time until the Alliance invades.”
“Indeed?” I smile. “That sounds ominous. It's lucky that Illum can move out of the war zone.”
“There is something I haven't told you. Don't forget that there are other reincarnated people on this world. I think that someone is manipulating the odds behind the scenes.” Grandmother waits until I nod, then she goes on. “There is one thing I don't understand. If you play the Alliance against the Empire and support the orcs with imperial weapons, why would you do so in a manner which makes it impossible for the Sociocrathy to assist the Alliance?”
She waves her hand through the air. “Then there are the rebels who cause chaos all over the continent. It looks like someone has something against countries which support slavery. The thing which I don't understand is this: Wouldn't it make much more sense to create a situation in which the Alliance and the Sociocrathy attack the Empire? Why support the orcs with enough weapons to give the Sociocrathy serious trouble?”
I twiddle my thumbs and study her for several long moments. “I think that, maybe, you misinterpreted the intentions of your hypothetical puppeteer.”
“What?” Janice leans forward, willing me to elaborate.
I decide to throw her a bone. Not that it will help her to understand. “To me, it would seem like the puppeteer wants only one thing. Chaos! He wants the world's superpowers to be so concerned with each other that they don't realize his real goals.”
“Now, let's change the topic.” I slam a hand onto the table. “That reminds me! I'll be gone for two or three days while Illum moves to the island where the World Assembly is held. I have a few things to do.”
Janice protests, but I pay her no heed, insisting that my absence has to do with top secret matters which only concern Illum.