Escaping the eternal grip of his owner had never really been a possibility. When Sincerity called for him, Lute had no choice but to answer.
Dress came in the middle of the night. There was no lock to their shared cabin, which allowed her to creep in quietly while Bell and Harp were sleeping. Lute was not asleep. His back was still burning, and being in any position for too long made things much worse that they had to be. Laying on his side served to pull at the closing wounds, keeping them from healing. Laying on his back was simply not worth considering.
He saw her standing in the doorway - illuminated by the single candle that she was carrying in a little lantern with her. She was swinging it back and forth over the faces of the prone figures below her, undoubtedly looking for him. Dress offered an almost vindictive smile when her eyes found his and she saw that he was awake. A simple gesture to follow came after this, and then she turned around and walked away, confident that he would follow. He did.
It might have been late at night, but the ship was far from asleep. The mate's watch were scurrying back and forth across the deck and the rigging, shifting the sails in the most minute ways to take full advantage of the wind. The mate himself, a tall and formidable man with a scar on his jaw line, was standing at the wheel, directing his watch from above with a skill that was obvious. A single wave of his hand would set three of his crew to work, while the returning motion would set their task and direction. The railings were being checked, the decks scrubbed and the weaponry polished. When Dress and Lute passed, Lute still showing signs of his injuries, the look that passed between the mate and Dress was not one that Lute liked at all. Something utterly disturbing was going on there.
As short a walk as it was between Lute's cabin and Sincerity's own, Lute found himself enjoying the look of the ship at night. The moon was high overhead, bathing the entire deck in a silver glow. The sails billowed, at time evenly and at times not so. The most important part of the scene were the movements of the people. They went to their work, one after the other; never running out of tasks to perform. Somehow though, they never bumped into each other, or blocked each other off. All of the simple clothed and simple mannered crewmen were perfectly aware of everything around them, including exactly what everybody else was doing. Watching them all engaging in the simple life made Lute envious. Marching towards Sincerity, he felt almost as though he was being marched to his death.
He had been unconscious when he had previously been brought to Sincerity's room, and also when he had been dragged out of it, so he still didn't know the way. Thankfully, Dress knew where she was going. Up a ladder from the wheel deck was a smaller deck close to the stern of the ship. There, there were two doors. One, judging by the ornate colouring of the door, was the Captain's cabin. The other, likely usually reserved for the first mate or the ship's doctor, would be the one where Sincerity slept. Dress knocked sharply on the door, then turned around and walked away again, leaving Lute alone in front of the door. By now, Lute was sure that Dress didn't like him. A moment later, he heard Sincerity's voice calling him inside, and he walked in after a second of preparation.
She was not alone. Instead, she was just finishing dinner with the Captain in the middle of the room. The Captain, with his back to the door, made no remark or acknowledgement of Lute's entrance. Sincerity, however, gave him quite a wide that made Lute feel small and edible.
And this would be the musician I called for, she said upon Lute's arrival, though it was directed at the ship's Captain. Though Lute could only see the man's back, the long hair, rigid posture and short sleeved jacket over bulging muscles painted an impression similar to that of the first mate. These men were designed for intimidation.
Sincerity, of course, was unimpressed by this. I shall have him and his friends prepare themselves up here tomorrow morning for the entertainment of yourself and your guests, she continued to her dinner guest. I'm sure the rest of the noble vultures will find the company of your vessel far superior to all of the rest of them. I can ensure you that your name shall be the first one raised when another journey is planned amongst our court. After all, you are being extremely courteous and gracious in keeping your guests pleased.
We aim to please, my lady, answered the Captain, though his tone was apathetic enough to make it sound like a lie. We're always happy to have rich people paying us to go places.
Sincerity offered him a laugh that was completely out of character. By now, Lute felt as though he was intruding, but he was also being ignored. Well, I believe it's far too late to carry on now, Captain, announced Sincerity. I shall brief your new entertainment, and then I must prepare for bed. I'm sure that you understand; I am to meet a new potential husband after all.
Very well, my lady, the Captain drawled. He made no goodbye, and no significant effort at a well mannered withdrawal. Instead, he leaned to the side and almost rolled out onto his feet, then strode straight out of the cabin with an evident strut in his stride. He didn't even glance towards Lute as he passed him by and slipped out of the room.
Did you get all that, Lute? Sincerity asked of him, dropping the noble speech, as well as the upright posture in her chair. She was wearing a new dress today. It was royal blue, with a high collar and a wide flair to the skirts. When she left the table, and beckoned him to follow, the movements of the skirts drew his eye. Keeping his focus though, he followed her past the table and towards her bed.
A plain, white nightdress had been laid out across her sheets. Expecting to be told about her plans for him, Lute began to turn, but she didn't let him. Come and help me with the bindings, she instructed with her back to him. Of course, she was referring to the thin ties at the back of her dress.
Isn't Dress supposed to do that for you? asked Lute.
She's not here, you are, stated Sincerity simply.
As improper as it was for an indirect servant, especially a male, to be helping to remove his owner's clothing, Lute had no choice but to do as he was told. While Lady Sincerity was standing still and waiting for him, Lute moved close up behind her, despite the frantic objections of the lines on his back, and began to fumble with the strings that bound the fabric to her body. She was patient with him, but his inexperience with such things became very clear. He was more used to pulling dresses over the head of whatever girl he was trying to sleep with.
When the knots were finally loose, she bid him to turn around and he took the chance straight away. The sounds of shifting fabric and falling clothing assailed him from behind. Right now, Sincerity was barely clothed behind him, and, instead of having herself dressed and undressed by her personal attendant, Sincerity had Lute in the room to take off her clothes.
He jumped a little when he felt her hand fall onto the back of his neck. Are you going to turn around on your own, or am I going to have to order you to? she whispered directly into his ear.
Lute spent a moment trying to think of a way out of what would undoubtedly happen next. Bell's voice was in his head, reminding him not to get involved, no matter what, with Lady Sincerity. Next, Bell's voice again instructed him that he should get out before anything dangerous happened. Finally, Bells voice demanded that he promise to get away from Sincerity and, most definitely, not come back to the owner's cabin. Now though, here he was, with Sincerity breathing on the back of his neck. She knew that she was going to get what she wanted. Lute had no chance of resisting.
Before he turned, Sincerity blew out the candles behind her, leaving only the tiny flicker from the table candle to illuminate her body.
So yeah, I'm thinking about doing an adult Lute piece like I did with Disbelief. If you're interested, head on over to the relevant blog and post a comment. It will only be available for a limited time.