Once Upon a Time in Khem by Freya Ishtar
An Object of Desire
For Sugar0o's 2011 GM Challenges
(2nd & 3rd when time is appropriate)
((Content Warning: Though there is a loose plot in place at the moment and a more intricate storyline is being worked on for the future progression of this fic, it is- at the moment- going to be functioning as PwP.
[This being said, sadly there is no 'P' of the PwP in this first chapter. >_> Turns out it took more writing to get the fic rolling than I'd initially intended. It took eight pages just to get Sessh and Kags in the same room alone XD.]
There MAY be threesomes, same-sex citrus, bondage, moments of what could be considered 'voluntary' subjugation, exhibitionism, voyerism and citrusy situations initiated by the use of manipulation, persuasion and or other such mind games or political scheming- to some readers, some of these situations may border on non-con, but it will likely not cross that line.
There are also a few 'more direct’ terms in here than what my readers are accustomed to from me- not vulgar, per se, just more direct. Eh, you’ll see.
The initial thought for this came after working on an AU pic of Kags, it's in the fanart gallery, under the same title as this fic.))
An Object of Desire
The pharaoh's golden eyes narrowed as he leaned ever so slightly closer to the image on the holo-projector, a perfectly arched silvery-white eyebrow quirking fractionally. "And this has not been altered in any way?"
Kouga, slaver lord of the Anubis tribe's Wolf Clan, did well to hide the bitter, though expectant, smile he felt itching at the corners of his lips. He should have known that despite his own status, Sesshomaru would have no qualms about calling him a liar to his face, how eloquently he might phrase such notwithstanding. The dark-haired man moved forward a little in his seat and rested his elbows on his knees, ice-blue eyes peering at his king- his stomach soured just a little at that- through the projection.
"Was this a forgery," he replied after a long moment of letting his temper settle, "I would not be so confident as to actually have brought the gift with me."
Sesshomaru's gaze flickered to rest on the wolf for only the briefest moment. "She is here, then?"
"Having you personally inspect her from half way across Khem seemed a stretch of even your abilities," Kouga responded with a weary shrug.
"I was of the understanding that the Bastet tribe died out," Sesshomaru began, making obvious note of her dark, jewel-like blue eyes. "Where did you find her?"
"On the streets of Saqqara, she was barely even skin-and-bones at the time, trading fortune telling for scraps of food."
The pharaoh tipped his silvery head to one side, gaze tracing almost imperceptibly over the girl's curvy figure. "She looks well-fed . . . and you say she was telling fortunes?"
This was answered with another shrug from Kouga. "Of course she is well-fed now, it has been three years since I found her and you know I take excellent care of my merchandise. As for the fortunes, I believe she is not only the last of the Bastet, but the last of their Priest clan."
Sesshomaru pressed a button on the projector, banishing the image. "How is it no one discovered her before, then?"
Kouga snatched up the device and placed it back in his satchel, pushing out of his seat to stand. "She was a little mess of matted hair and dirty skin, dressed in what may as well have been ratty dishrags- I doubt any looked past the smudges on her face to see those eyes. I'm certain if they had, they'd have come to the same realization as I."
The wolf swallowed his pride- it felt oddly like biting back bile- and bowed deeply, sweeping his arms out, "Well, my liege, shall I introduce you to your new concubine?"
"You seem fairly certain that I will enjoy her," his king said in a bored monotone as he rose and began walking- not waiting to see whether Kouga fell into step beside him or not.
Kouga could not help the rakish grin that graced his lips then. "That is because I am certain. I . . . did a bit of deductive reasoning. Every other female in your harem was untouched when they were presented to you."
The pharaoh halted in mid-step and pivoted on his heel, glaring at the other man. "Am I to understand that you are attempting to offer me used merchandise?"
Those pale blue eyes rolled. "Not used, trained. A subdued woman makes for a pleasing enough fuck, I suppose, but we are Anubis men, we thrive on the thrill of conquest . . . there is no thrill even near to that to be had from taking a woman with no mind of her own about what she wants out of sex. You have four concubines already, do any of them seem to take pleasure in something unless they think it will please you? Do you never tire of how quiet and skittish they can be?" Kouga nodded briefly at Sesshomaru, not pausing for the pharaoh's answer, "Trust me when I tell you, my liege, this girl . . . she is an ideal lover for one of your stature and needs."
Sesshomaru turned and began walking again. "If she is not, I will take your 'deductive reasoning' as a personal insult. I am certain we understand each other."
Kouga gave a short bow, hiding the scowl that momentarily marred his handsome features. "Of course, my liege."
"What is her name?"
"Her true name," Kouga began as he widened his stride- trying to catch up to the pharaoh without having to suffer the embarrassment of rushing to his side- "is unknown; long forgotten even to her. She somehow came to call herself Kagome."
"What a very odd name."
"It is unique, my liege, as is she."
"You are nervous," Kanna observed in her usual dull monotone as she fussed with the delicate, lacquered shell-tubes that encased the long, dark locks of Kagome's hair.
Kagome turned to the young albino girl, who'd served as her hand-maiden ever since Lord Kouga had gotten it in his head to have her behave as a lady of refinement- you are nobility, Kagome, but you can only regain your rightful place by showing nobility in public . . . and being a wanton lioness in private; come here, let me teach you, Kouga had said- and placed her fingers over Kanna's, stilling the girl's hands. Fussing was simply not Kanna's way.
"Not as nervous as you, it would seem. What's wrong?"
Kanna took a long moment, her constantly dim grey-black eyes roving about before she offered a response. "I am certain the pharaoh will like you, mistress, but . . . what if he makes you send me away?"
"Why would you think he would do such a thing?"
"Because I am strange," Kanna muttered, once more glancing about as though she feared being overheard.
Unable to help the frown that graced her lips Kagome reached out, gently sweeping the girl's hair over her small shoulders- she was well aware that Kanna was distressed over the simple, yet bizarre, fact that she did not even truly resemble other albinos, that people always found the dark, endlessly deep-seeming pools of her eyes unsettling. "I will not let him send you away."
"You can hardly stop him, he is our king."
Kagome's jewel-blue gaze wandered as she thought this over- Lord Kouga gave her the world on a gilded platter; the pharaoh was not likely to be so generous. "If he does, then I will leave, too."
"You would?" The girl's voice reflected a tiny shading of wonder- any show of emotion from her at all was a rare thing.
"You and I are part and parcel of the same package, Kanna," Kagome murmured gently, tapping a finger against the tip of Kanna's nose. "I know what it is like to live beyond sheltered walls. I would not allow you to face such a fate alone- if you go, than so do I."
". . . Thank you, mistress," Kanna replied simply, a barely visible half-smile lifted one corner of her small mouth so very barely that had Kagome not known the girl so well, she would have missed the sight entirely.
"I do not think it will come to that, however."
Kanna's head tipped to one side as she returned to straightening Kagome's adornments. "How can you be certain?"
Smiling, Kagome lifted a hand to her mouth and stage-whispered, "Because I hear tell that the pharaoh's family line- hmm, perhaps it is even all of the Dog clan- have hair as white as your own."
Though Kanna's eyes didn't look to brighten at all, they did open a fraction wider at this news. "Truly?"
"He could not send you away for your appearance without it being an insult to himself, as well."
Both girls gave a start when the white curtain at the chamber's pillared entrance was pulled back suddenly- as much at seeing the pharaoh, himself, standing there, as for the fervent hope that he'd not just overheard them gossiping about him. Those sharp gold eyes lingered on Kagome for a long moment before moving to land on the white-haired girl standing at her shoulder and then he was gone again, the curtain billowing as it fell back into place.
"Am I to understand," he murmured levelly, turning on his heel to face Kouga, "that a concubine has her own handmaiden?"
Kouga shrugged lightly- he should have known this would take a bit of explanation. Why could Sesshomaru not be a simpler man and just accept such a gorgeous and generous gift without making a fuss about details? "The Priest clan was a noble house- ergo, Kagome is a noblewoman. I felt it proper that she become accustomed to living like one."
It did not go unnoticed by the Wolf that the pharaoh's spine had gone pin-straight- as minute as a change as that was from the man's usually severe posture- as he folded his arms across his chest. "The others of my harem are commoners, you realize . . . they are beautiful, but common. How am I to take this gift from you without considering what future implications you intend?"
Kouga fought the instinct to mirror Sesshomaru's stance, instead forcing his arms to stay hanging casually at his sides- a show that he felt no need to guard himself, or his purpose. "Placing her here with you is a suggestion, nothing more."
Silver eyebrows arched incrementally. "How can I be certain of this?"
"First," Kouga began with a weary sigh, "I understand you well enough to know that if you are given any reason to suspect that one is trying to force an action from you, you will go the opposite route- or take no action at all- simply to show that no one manipulates the pharaoh. Second, the time will come when the people demand an heir; they will need to know their future is secure. As you will only produce one with the female whom you choose as your mate, if you do not choose a queen the people will demand that you abdicate the throne."
Sesshomaru's features were graced with a light, thoughtful scowl, then. It was not that these were things he did not know, simply that they were things he rarely allowed himself time to consider. He had an empire to run, wars to wage, Khemite occupations of foreign lands to oversee. Other than assuring that his carnal needs were catered to so that they did not serve as a distraction, he never bothered with such matters.
"My clan has just as much of an interest in keeping the throne within the Anubis tribe as yours does," Kouga went on calmly, keeping his voice low enough that the two females waiting on pins and needles in the pharaoh's bed chamber did not overhear. "Abdication would give room to the other tribes to put their own candidates forth. The people might not accept their king selecting a commoner as their queen. Not only is this girl nobility, she is the last of a tribe thought to have been slaughtered entirely by our empire's greatest enemies. The revelation of her existence alone will be cause for celebration." He leaned towards Sesshomaru a little then, dropping his words to a mere thread of sound, "Even if the people accepted a commoner queen, there is no telling what that queen's own tribe would do to see their will done via your chosen bride. Kagome knows that her very life is owed to the Anubis- that she would have died on some filthy street had it not been for one of our tribe. Her loyalty is to us and, therefore, to you."
Sesshomaru did not like that everything the Wolf had just said made perfect sense- not one little bit. Still, there was the chance that he would find her not fit to satisfy him, how very pleasing she was to the eye notwithstanding.
"It is something to consider," he said at last. "However, even that consideration hinges on whether or not I will even enjoy her."
I have no doubt that you will, Kouga thought, biting back the scoffing laugh he felt itching inside of his throat as he watched the pharaoh lift the curtain and continue into his chamber. A few moments later a slightly wide-eyed Kanna came bustling out, her dark gaze landing unerringly on his.
"He has no intention of sending me away," she informed in a bored and airy tone.
"You seem puzzled."
A barely detectable frown creased the little girl's mouth. "I . . . do not know what I should do while the pharaoh inspects her. I do not like the idea of being bored."
"You could explore the grounds," Kouga suggested, clasping his hands behind his back as he turned away from the chamber to stride through the corridor beside her. "If memory serves, the palace atrium has a man-made waterfall."
The impossibly vague change in her expression was akin to a normal person's face lighting up. "Interesting."
A long time had passed as the two had simply observed one another, the white haired girl standing off to one side of the chaise upon which Kagome had neatly seated herself. Sesshomaru couldn't tell if the child was ready to jump out of her skin or fall asleep standing up.
He pulled his gaze from her mistress long enough to look into Kanna's blank face. "Leave."
The females exchanged a quick glance. Kanna began to step around the chaise, but Kagome's hand shot out instantly, latching gently around Kanna's dainty wrist. She could feel the pharaoh's eyes boring down on her as he waited for her to explain herself.
"Where is she to go?" Kagome asked simply, hoping to prove to Kanna that she was correct in her earlier assumption.
Sesshomaru's gaze flicked downward again- tracing over her, over her full lips, stained ruby by some type of berry balm, over the white linen garments that hugged her curves and bared tempting bits of her sun-bronzed flesh to the eye- before he bothered to grace her with response. "Wherever she likes. I should think it would be most awkward for her to remain here for what is about to transpire."
The inspection . . . of course, Kagome thought, nodding as she relinquished her hold on Kanna. "It's alright, Kanna. Go on, I will find you when we're through here."
Kanna gave a short nod, pausing to bow to the pharaoh before scurrying out of the chamber.
Kagome was trying so very hard not to raise her eyes to the pharaoh, but it was so difficult- the glance she'd stolen when he'd been briefly distracted with speaking to Kanna had proved utterly breathtaking. Like all the people of Khem who'd never before seen the man with their own eyes, Kagome had heard tell for so long of how very beautiful their king was said to be. He was so tall, his limbs and torso all long lean muscles and golden flesh- from stalking the battlefield under the blazing Khemite sun, no doubt- accented so richly by his fine, white linen kilt and polished gold-and-onyx adornments. Even his hair, long and silvery-white as it fell behind his shoulders and draped down just past his hips, seemed some sort of accompaniment intended to serve the purpose of accentuating his regal, almost inhuman beauty.
He was all gold and white and utterly dazzling to the eye and she could not help that she wanted to see more of him. It felt like a betrayal for a brief second- only a few minutes ago she'd thought Lord Kouga the most handsome man she'd ever seen, now she was forced to place him second to her pharaoh- but she reminded herself sternly that she'd known this day was coming; that she'd been brought here for the pharaoh.
How could it be a betrayal of Lord Kouga when this was Lord Kouga's idea?
(Reviews are greatly appreciated. I'm not sure I even like this chapter very much myself XD, but I did need to get it out of the way.)