Getting to Know You: The Demonstration

For the record, I never intended for this to go this long; my notes on this are literally only 300 words. But, I’ve been thinking about this story off and on for months now, and I really wanted to add to it. So, here goes. I hope you enjoy!


<Previous Chapter>

You wake up to find yourself floating above the ground. You gasp in shock, your legs flailing, before you realize that you’re not so much floating as thrown over Bulkun’s shoulder like a sack of so many potatoes. Forgetting your position as his new concubine, you immediately begin pounding your fists against his back.

“Ah, haha! Vales, you needn’t begin the back massages so soon; wait until we get back to the village!” Bulkun says, laughing uproariously.

Back massage?! Me hitting him as hard as I can is nothing more than a back massage to him?!

“Come, spunky buck-whore; the demonstration is not over, yet!”

You feel your stomach sinking as he picks you up off his shoulder and puts you down as easily as you might put down the tiniest of fawns. You look up at him; he’s easily a neck-and-head taller than you, and his bulging chest ripples with what seems like impossible upper body strength. You swallow hard as you glance up at his face. How can someone so cruel have such a kind face?

Before you have long to ponder the question, he effortlessly grabs your head in one hand and spins you around like a top. You start to wonder whether Janus would allow himself to be handled so blithely. Surely not; he’s a lot tougher than you are.

But as soon as you turn around, you see him, about halfway back, with an elk holding a serrated blade against his throat. His mouth is drawn up into a sneer, but as you lock eyes with him, you catch a glimpse of something you’ve never seen in him before. It isn’t fear; it’s worse.

It’s pity.

The sinking feeling you had when Bulkun dropped you to your feet has nothing on the feeling you have now. Your own best friend is looking down on you. Your throat feels like you’ve swallowed a boulder. You instinctively take a step back and feel the immovable weight of Bulkun behind you. Before you can react, he puts his hands on your shoulders and bodily moves you forward.

Your breath catches. There, front and center, are your parents. Your eyes dart away as fast as they can, but not before making eye contact with both of them. Your mom is doing her best to put on a strong face, and your dad is holding her hands and comforting her. It’s as if you’re already dead, and they’re at your funeral. You turn your head away; you can’t bear to look at everybody in such a humiliating and compromised position, especially when they’re all looking at you like you’re less than a buck.

“I was serious about teaching you all to like yourselves,” Bulkun says, breaking the stifling silence. “Now that little Vales here has recovered from my clumsy hand, I shall show you. Sorry, little Vales,” he adds as an afterthought in a tone more patronizing than apologetic.

But what he says next makes you immediately forget his tone.

“I shall now pleasure little Vales right here in front of everybody.”

Your pupils constrict to pinpoints, and you instinctively squeeze your legs together and cover your crotch with your hands.

“Now, now, Vales,” he says, grabbing your hands and pulling them to your sides.

Not one to give up that easily and deliberately avoiding the Matriarch’s gaze, you deliberately put your hands back over your crotch.

“You cannot learn if you will not accept instruction,” Bulkun says impatiently, again moving your hands.

But no sooner does he withdraw his hands to try to spread your legs apart than you put your hands back on your crotch again.

“Enough, miserable slave!” Bulkun roars, grabbing you by the neck and lifting you off the ground in one quick motion.

Your eyes go wide, and you grasp his wrist with your hands, trying to peel apart his fingers. But you might as well be trying to pry solid stone apart; his grip doesn’t budge an inch. This is effortless to him; you are powerless to free yourself.

“Now, listen, Vales,” Bulkun growls in a voice soft enough that only you can hear but threatening nonetheless as he moves his face very close to yours, “You can continue to struggle and fight me, and I can slay your whole village in front of you. Your mother, father, friends, and precious Matriarch, all dead because of you. Is that what you want? All I have to do is give the order, and crrk!“—he made the sound of someone’s neck being broken.

Your eyes dart past him and get even wider; two large elk with bulging biceps are standing behind your parents, their expressions grim and determined.

“Think on it, Vales,” Bulkun says evenly, “One by one, I will kill them all, making sure to pace myself between them so that you feel the pain of each one individually, like a fresh lashing with each broken neck.” His voice grows even more menacing. “You’ll hear the sound of breaking necks in your dreams for years to come.”

He gives a faint smile. “I’m going to put you down now, Vales. Make your choice: stand and present your malehood for me to use as is my right, or fight me and watch someone in your tribe—someone you care about—die.”

You feel your feet touch the ground. His grasp on your neck relaxes, and his hand pulls away. You feel your legs instinctively pulling themselves together—no! You grit your teeth, ball both hands into fists, and pull them to your sides as you thrust your hips out. Squeezing your eyes closed, you turn your head away; there’s no way you can face everybody…not like this.

“Ah, ah, ah, Vales,” Bulkun says as he steps up behind you, putting his knee in the crack of your ass to prevent you from squeezing your legs closed again and reaching down to stroke your testes, “Open your eyes and look out there. Look at your parents. Look them in the eyes.”

You let out a soft whimper, your face burning with humiliation and your legs feeling like rubber.

“Come now, Vales. Hurry up; you know what is at stake. Crrrrrrrrrk,” he adds in a voice quiet enough that only you can hear.

The sound makes your eyes snap open. Your eyes dart to where your parents are. You don’t want to look. You don’t want to admit that you’re standing here, the concubine of this…beast. You want to hide somewhere—anywhere but here. But as soon as you look out, you know that there will be no hiding, that you will be made to bear your shame in front of your whole tribe. How can it be that only hours ago, the worst thing that had ever happened was the Matriarch jacking you off in front of a few peers, and now you were about to be brought to orgasm in front of your whole tribe?

Crrrrrrrrrk!

A cry comes up from the tribe, and your head instinctively turns toward the sound just in time to see a limp body slump to the ground.

“Linus!”

Your breath catches, and tears well up in your eyes. You try to start forward, but Bulkun pins you against him.

“I warned you,” he growls. “How many more will die?”

Linus’s parents are sobbing softly. His mom tries to rush to him, but a burly elk holds her back. The look in Janus’s eyes is now of infuriated defeat. The jagged knife is pricking his throat. You close your eyes and feel your tears roll down your face.

“Look at your parents, Vales,” Bulkun says quietly. “Don’t make me kill another.”

Helpless and defeated, you open your eyes to look on your parents. Your stomach turns as one and then both of them look back at you. As if it wasn’t bad enough that you’re about to be forcibly relieved of your seed in front of everyone, now your inaction has caused the death of one of your tribe—one of your friends! You desperately want to pull away; you can feel your eyelids desperately trying to close. You bite your lip hard and force your eyes to stay open.

That’s when you feel it: Bulkun’s hand on your sheath. You release your lip and begin grinding your teeth, feeling a new flush come over your face even as the burn of humiliation and regret stings your ears.

Noyou won’t give him this. Let him stroke you until his arm falls off!

“Matriarch,” he says after giving your sheath only a few gentle strokes, “Come and relieve this buck of his seed. You seem to be very good at it.”

There’s an agonized gasp from the tribe. All eyes turn to the Matriarch. What will she do?

Please, you silently urge her, please refuse him; make him stop!

But to your dismay, she straightens her posture, radiating dignity, and steps forward with a slow, deliberate step. She comes up beside you and takes your sheath in her hand.

No, no, no… Not again! Not like this!

“No, Matriarch,” Bulkun says, “We Reldehorn do not believe in wasting a male’s essence.”

Your jaw drops. Surely he can’t mean for you to…breed the Matriarch?!

“You must consume his essence, use it for your nourishment,” he says.

A collective sigh of relief is heard throughout the tribe. Bulkun laughs. “Oh, you deer,” he says, “So caught up in what you think is proper. I’ll have you know that everyone breeds the Matriarch in my tribe, from the tenderest age, and I breed everyone as the Patriarch—from the tenderest age!” He shakes his head. “But, I shall spare you poor, close-minded fools…for now. Begin, Matriarch.”

Your eyes dart to the Matriarch, silently begging for guidance.

“Do your duty!” she hisses as she gets to her knees, her back turned to the tribe, and runs her soft, warm nose around the tip of your sheath.

An image of Linus’s body collapsing in a heap jars your thoughts. You gasp and look out at the tribe, where his parents are still consoling each other. Now there’s no way you can even think of getting hard. You want to push the Matriarch away, to leave you alone to your guilt. Now is not the time for sex; now is the time for mourning!

“What is taking so long, Matriarch?” Bulkun demands. “You had him firing off by now, yet he is not even peeking from his sheath!”

“My apologies, Bulkun,” the matriarch says. “He seems to be very tense and distraught. It might have something to do with the recent death of one of his friends,” she adds pointedly, her voice icy.

“Oh, that? Ugh!”

Bulkun gestures to someone, who picks up Linus’s body and begins to slap his face, telling him to wake up. The whole tribe is aghast, and several of the warriors try to break free to stop this outrageous defiling of his corpse, only to have the knives pushed into their throats a little deeper.

You can’t help but turn away; you can’t watch him being handled so, and it’s all your fault!

A surprised cry escapes Linus’s mother’s lips, yanking your attention back to her. Linus coughs and shakes his head, blinking as though he has a headache. His mother breaks past the guard and runs to hold him. Two more guards take up positions on either side of them, making sure they don’t go anywhere.

You feel Bulkun’s hand grasp your shoulder tightly. You swallow hard.

“Let that be a warning,” he growls. “Next time, it will be for real. Now, stop fighting me, stop fighting your matriarch, and do as you’re told.”

Now close enough to hear his words, the Matriarch’s eyes widen. As she looks from him to you, her expression changes to one of absolute resolution.

“Bulkun, your lordship, may I have a word with your Vales before we proceed?” she asks quietly, never taking her eyes off of you.

“I am no fool,” he growls. “If I let you go someplace private, you will try to conspire. Therefore, whatever you must say, say it there, Matriarch.”

“Very well; it can be said here as well as anywhere,” the Matriarch replies. To you, she says, “Do your duty, Vales. Your poor behavior could have killed your friend, or any of us!”

“Do you want me to take orders from this—this usurper?” you protest, not believing your ears.

A harsh punch to your stomach gives you her answer. Bulkun holds your arms, and you sag, hanging by your wrists, your face close to hers.

“This tribe has bested us, Vales,” the Matriarch says quietly, glancing over her shoulder. “The safety of our entire tribe rests in your hands. I will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. Do you understand? If Bulkun wants you to breed me right here and now, I will do it to ensure their safety, and you will do as he says! If Bulkun wants you to breed your own mother, you will do as he says! If Bulkun wants to slaughter you right here and now”—she reaches up and grasps the scruff of your neck, forcing you to look at her—”you will do as he says. Do I make myself clear?”

You swallow, feeling the urge to cry. This whole thing is so unfair! And she is kowtowing to this…this—

“Do I make myself clear?” she demands again, her voice a deafening hiss. “The sacrifice of one young buck is worth it to protect everyone else. Would you rather your parents died? Janus? Linus?”

You gasp and glance at him, still looking bewildered by what is going on.

“Are you that much of a coward, or will you do your duty?” the Matriarch presses.

You swallow and hang your head. “Yes, Matriarch. I will do as you say,” you say dully.

“Then get that dick hard and do as your master commands,” she replies, sitting back and once again nuzzling your crotch as if nothing had happened. “If you have to imagine young does or young bucks and not my wizened face, then so be it!”

Bulkun is silent for a moment and then chuckles. “Well said, Matriarch! I should take you with me to every tribe to ensure they behave! Very impressive!”

“As you wish, your lordship,” the Matriarch replies, giving you a significant look as her nose traces once more around the tip of your sheath.

How the hell can you get hard now? Your friend almost died—your fault—the Matriarch is now futilely trying to get you hard—also your fault—and she’s just chewed you out—also your fault! You’re standing here in front of everybody, and they all expect you to get off. The anticipation for the Matriarch must be infuriating, having to sit there on her knees, trying to get you hard! With all that pressure and regret, how can you possibly—

Her hands reach up to cup your balls, and you let out an involuntary sigh. You feel your prick emerge, and you feel hot, wet breath from her nose blow across it.

This is so humiliating; being fluffed by the Matriarch! And your parents are watching, and—

Her lips close over the tip of your prick, and your eyes half-close. You feel yourself emerge halfway, sliding effortlessly into her hot, wet mouth. Her tongue is so soft, so gentle as it caresses you and slides down your shaft. You emerge the rest of the way, and as effortlessly as licking a spoonful of ice cream, she moves her head slightly, caresses your length, and laps from base to tip.

Your eyes open again. The whole tribe is watching you. There are looks of disgust, humiliation, and dismay all around. If you ever survive this, the tribe will banish you. The thought twists your guts. Everyone you love will hate you. From now on, you are a pariah. Anyone who treats the Matriarch like this will—

The Matriarch’s hands cup your balls, sending thrills of electricity through them. You let out a hoarse gasp and feel as the Matriarch licks a large drop of precum from your tip. Ohh… Her tongue tickles as it plays over you. Then it presses up against your flesh, warm, wet, soft, and slippery. It pushes your malehood up against her soft palate. Her head begins to bob, slowly but persistently. Mmf… You feel your hips beginning to rock in rhythm to her bobbing. She cups and strokes your balls in time, making them quiver and fill with seed. They grow heavy in her hands; you can feel their weight tugging against your body. A warmth suddenly appears in the tip of your dick and in the depths of your testes. The warmth spreads rapidly, covering your whole crotch with a burning, yearning desire.

You sigh, your eyelids half-open, your head tilting back in bliss. Your focus is bleary, but as your head settles, things begin to resolve through the haze of your impending orgasm.

You see your parents. They’re both looking at you, at a sight too sordid to tear their eyes away. They look mortified. Oh, shit! What are you doing?! You’re going to get off right here in front of—

“Ohh!”

It’s as if the voice came from somewhere else; you don’t even recognize it as your own as you feel the Matriarch grasp your prick at the base and squeeze firmly. Your hips thrust in spite of yourself, and you feel your balls empty themselves. The Matriarch jerks a bit but recovers quickly, her tongue flitting dexterously to draw every drop from you until you are spent completely. Your legs wobble. You forget where you are, and you lean backwards, feeling something solid behind you to support you and prop you up. Your eyes glaze over, and your mind fogs.

The only thing that you know now is that that felt really good. You feel…happy. Relaxed. Giddy, even. A smile comes over your lips, and you let out an involuntary giggle.

“Ha! I knew he could do it!”

Bulkun’s voice shatters your bliss. In an instant, everything comes back to you, and things come into crystal focus. Your parents are still staring at you, but now shame has colored both of their faces.

“Applause, applause! He has done well; there must be applause!” Bulkun demands.

The Matriarch claps first, and then the rest of the tribe follows her lead. You hang your head and turn your face away; you cannot bear to be put on display like this!

I did what you wanted; why do you have to rub it in?

“What’s this?” Bulkun demands, grasping your face. “No, no, you must bask in your glory!  Look, see your parents! See how they applaud you!”

Applaud?!

Your curiosity gets the better of you, and you look at them, only to find that they’re both gritting their teeth and applauding only because the Matriarch did so. If anything, they look more mortified now than you have ever seen them in your life. You hide your face again, so quickly that Bulkun loses his grip.

“No!” he says forcefully, grasping and turning your face once more. “You must be proud of your achievement!”

For a moment, his body quivers with rage, and you’re certain he’s going to crush your skull with his massive hands. He sighs abruptly and relaxes his hold on you.

“Vales, Vales, Vales,” he says, shaking his head. “I shall have to lead by example, I see.”

He whistled, and two elk stepped forward, one male, one female, both as naked as Bulkun and the rest of his clan. The gray-white hairs that intermixed with the ruddy brown on their noses tells you they’re older, perhaps the same age as the Matriarch.

“Sire, Damme,” Bulkun says, bowing his head deferentially, “I have won a concubine for our great nation! What do you think of him?”

“He shall do you proud, my son,” the male says.

“He is a fine, handsome specimen, truly a credit to his tribe,” the female adds. “You have chosen well, my son.”

“But, our son, you must train him,” the male says, wrapping his arm around the female.

“His tribe is weak, and he is not used to serving our kind,” the female finishes. “You must show him how to be proud and bold before your family—before your tribe!”

“Mother, Father, I obey,” Bulkun says, bowing once more. “And will you be proud of me?”

“Of course, our son!” the elder elk chorused.

“Ah, Vales,” Bulkun says, the address making you turn your head to look at him, “You would do well to have parents such as mine. Your parents are afraid—ashamed even!—when their son stands before them, elevated as the cynosure of their tribe. What cowardice is this! What ingrates they are! Now, of all times, they should stand beside you, supporting you, proud of you, yet instead they wait until last—the very last of your tribe—to applaud your efforts, they avert their eyes, they blush. No! Damn thee, unsupportive, weak parents! I must”—he took a deep breath and recomposed himself—”I must show you what is to be proud of thyself, to triumph in they emissions, to bask in thy virility and the pride of thy parents. Vales, come,” he says, moving up beside you and turning his crotch to face you. “Kneel.”

His hands press down on your shoulders, and reeling from what he said and the wave of emotions his words elicited, you put up no fight. You kneel, and his pendulous testes hover in front of your face. His prick seems to have had no trouble finding its way out of its sheath; the tip is already visible and glistening. You swallow nervously. You know where this is going. It’s not that you’re necessarily opposed to trying something with a male—the thought has crossed your mind a few times, particularly with Janus—but of course, you would never even hint at it with him. But to do it here? In front of the whole tribe? What if you actually like it? You gasp. What if you show that you like it? You gulp and shake your head. No, even if you do like it, you won’t let on. How could your parents live with themselves if it was public knowledge that their son was…that way?

“Do you refuse me, Vales?” Bulkun asks, frowning down at you.

You gasp; you were so lost in your head, you forgot that he was waiting. With a glance at the Matriarch, who gives you her usual hard, expectant stare, you mutter, “No, Master” and haltingly bring your muzzle towards his crotch.

You take a breath, and a musky, masculine scent floods your nostrils. You feel reality wither, and your mind is awash with half-formed, incoherent thoughts that tease you without revealing what they are.

Abruptly, an image of Bulkun flashes into your head, quite clearly. Around him is pure blackness; he is all there is to see, lit as if by a radiance that shines from within himself. He beckons. His meat is at half-mast, and you go to him. He bids you to kneel and spread your legs, to demonstrate your subservience to him. You look down to see yourself at full mast, great volumes of precum trailing down your shaft and stringing their way to the ground.

“You have done well,” he says. “Now, demonstrate your devotion.”

You rise slightly, and your lips touch his prick. It is slimy with pre, too. It tastes musky and a hint salty, but your mouth waters for it. As if by some unseen will, you feel yourself compelled to lower your muzzle down over it, caressing it reverently as you do.

“It seems I may have less to teach you than I thought, Vales,” a voice says.

You snap out of it and suddenly realize that you’re not in a black void; you’re up in front of your whole tribe. And—you realize with a mortified gasp—your muzzle is wrapped around Bulkun’s prick.

A glance to your left shows the whole tribe spellbound, as if each face showed a different face of outrage. Your parents are actively shielding their eyes. A pang of frustration shoots through you unexpectedly as Bulkun’s words echo in your ear. What do they have to be ashamed of? You’re doing what the Matriarch and your master demanded, aren’t you? Why should that cause them embarrassment? A wave of indignation follows the frustration, and you feel your eyebrows furrowing as if they had a mind of their own. Why shouldn’t your parents be proud of you? Why—

A tickle on your exposed prick makes you gasp in pleasure. You glance down, and your face burns. That’s why. That’s why your parents are humiliated. Just like that passing image in your mind, your legs are spread, and the tickle you felt was another of what must have been many blobs of precum gliding down your shaft and painting the floor with your submission.

Damn.

The word is out; now your life in the tribe is over. You glance at Janus. He clenches his jaw and turns his head ever so slightly, averting his eyes in disgust. You look at Linus. He stares back at you in disbelief. His eye catches yours, and as if reading your soul, his disbelief melts into grim condemnation. He, too, turns his head, closing his eyes. One-by-one, you search the crowd for a friendly face, and one-by-one, they avert their eyes.

“Have you forgotten what you’re doing, Vales?” Bulkun asks quietly, somewhat amused.

Startled, you feel the dejection that threatens to suffocate you recedes a little. For once, you can turn away from your tribe, can focus on anything else to take your mind off of the damning rejection you’ve just experienced.

“Nothing left to do but to finish,” the elk says, glancing up and seeing the stoic faces. “Ignore them,” he says, putting his hand on your shoulder. “Go back to where you were a few seconds ago. Serve your master; show him your devotion.”

You gasp, almost letting his cock slip out of your mouth. Those words—they’re just the same as the ones you imagined!

Show me your devotion.

As if in a trance, you slip your mouth down over his drooling prick once more and taste his salty fluids and musky skin. Your vision darkens, and nothing is left but Bulkun’s muscular body in front of you, his large, virile balls hanging in front of you like ripe limes waiting to be picked. Your hands move with minds of their own, reach up, and cup those large orbs. Bulkun shudders, and a spurt of slippery, salty liquid coats your mouth.

“Vales,” a voice says softly. “Vales!”

You gasp and open your eyes, and Bulkun gently guides your head to see his parents watching you both. Their faces are beaming—radiant even—with pride. Before your eyes, Bulkun’s mother spreads her legs, and Bulkun’s father mounts her from behind. The idea strikes you first as repugnant. Why should two people mate in front of everybody else? Why shouldn’t they do it in private? But the look on their faces, the rapture they both feel, it…it seems to bathe you in its energy, and you’re almost certain you can feel warmth from them, even if they are twenty feet away. A feeling of happiness —no, of giddiness—for them wells up inside you, and you realize that you want Bulkun to feel that rapture; you want to feel that rapture!

You forget about your tribe and focus only on Bulkun’s body, the way his calves twitch when you cup his balls, the way his sheath pulls back with each thrust of his hips into your mouth, the taste of his pre and the scent of that overpowering, heady musk, the sound of his breathing growing ragged. You bury your nose in his groin, feeling his long, slender prick gliding against your tongue and the roof of your mouth. You can feel his orgasm drawing near. You desire it; you crave it! You lick and swallow around his cock for all you’re worth, desperate to share the pleasure of his orgasm; you don’t care who sees!

All at once, he grabs your head with both hands, holding you very still. You feel his cock swell in your mouth, and unable to hold back, you wrap your tongue around it and give it a good swirl.

He lets out a loud bugle, and his hips buck so hard that they shove your head backward. Bitter, tangy liquid spurts into your mouth, shooting down your throat. You cough and sputter as cum comes out your nose. Your eyes bulge, and you try to pull back, but his hands hold you firmly in place. Another spurt catches you off guard, and cum begins to drool out of your nose as badly as if you had a cold. More of the stuff shoots down your throat, coating your tongue and giving it a weird, tingly feeling. His cock swells abruptly, and you instinctively protect your throat with your tongue as a third, hard spurt plasters the inside of your mouth with so much cum that your cheeks puff out. Now that your mouth is covered in it, the taste is overbearing. You start to open your mouth to let it drool out, but he quickly pulls your muzzle off his cock and clamps it closed.

“You must consume my essence; use it for your nourishment,” he says fervently, as if uttering a prayer.

Unable to argue—to do anything else, really—you grimace and try several times before swallowing the thick, slimy glob in your mouth. It goes down, and you burp. It tastes just like the elk’s cum.

Bulkun has, meanwhile, thrown his head back and has his eyes half-closed, taking deep, triumphant breaths with a hint of a smile on his face. His parents, meanwhile, appear to have climaxed and are watching you both with expressions of post-coital bliss.

But your parents… You swallow hard, smacking in distaste at the powerful taste that you can’t seem to get off your tongue, and cautiously steal a glance at them. Their eyes are downcast; their postures sagging. A space has opened up around them and the other members of the tribe.

Glancing over your shoulder, you see the Matriarch silently mouthing words to herself. Part of you wonders what she’s saying, but most of you is afraid to ask. You get to your feet and slowly turn to face the tribe.

Bulkun opens his eyes and looks about the tribe, a broad smile coming over his face. “Father! Mother! Are you proud?”

“Ever so proud, son!” they chorus. “Your concubine has already shown his submission and devotion to you, and you have rewarded him generously with the fruit of your loins; for what more could we ask?”

“And you, Vales’s parents,” Bulkun says, his voice booming, “Are you also proud? Your son has shown great respect to me today; he has proven once more that he is the best among you!”

He stands, the silence deafening as he awaits your parents’ answer.

“Great Bulkun,” your father finally begins, his voice wavering.

Your heart sinks; you know that tone of voice.

“You have come to our village, demanded my son as your concubine.” He takes a shaky breath. “This is your privilege—one we grant to all our allies.”

Bulkun beams and nods; he doesn’t know where your father is going with this, but you do.

“But then you conquer our tribe, demand that my son bares himself in front of us all. I—” He takes another deep breath and lets it out. “We strive to understand our neighbors and allies, but I hope that you, too, if you call us your ally, will strive to understand us, too. This—this thing you have demanded, here in front of all of us—it is terrible to behold. To see my son’s body used as you have, to see our matriarch used the way you have used her, to witness one of our own killed in front of us only to find out it was a cruel trick—I cannot express in words the grief and pain I feel now. But”—here your heart plummets as his tone changes for the last time—this is where the real problem lies—”To witness my son spreading his legs and wetting the earth like a doe in heat while”—he let out a forceful snort—”taking your malehood as he did, I—” He trails off; his voice cracks, and he buries his face in his hands while your mother holds him close.

You hang your head. It’s true, then; of all the terrible things that have happened, none disappointed your father more than you. You are overcome with guilt and shame. How could you have prostrated yourself like that? How could you have humiliated your entire family like that? You’re so filled with remorse that you feel glued to the spot; you deserve to stand here, humiliated, in front of your tribe. You have brought terrible dishonor down upon your family. Your heart sinks, knowing what they must do to regain that honor. You would spare them the heartache, yet you know that it would do no good. There is only one thing you can do, but stripped of your clothes, let alone weapons, you are powerless to do it. And so you wait for your parents to do the only thing they can do to regain the honor of the tribe.

“You,” your mother says, her voice harsh and foreign. The word comes like a slap across your face, making you grit your teeth and turn your face to the side. Summoning any hint of pride you have left, you lift your head again, ready to receive your mother’s words like a buck.

“Wait.”

The tribe turns to look at the Matriarch. You turn to face her, as well, and everybody waits in silence, waiting for her to continue.

“It is true, this buck has brought shame upon himself and his family through his actions today; he has shown pride at his refusal to follow his master’s orders. His cowardice has nearly gotten one of our own killed. And, I will spare those with tender ears the harsh words I would use to declare his most heinous crime, one he has committed here in plain sight of everybody.”

You feel like you’re going to throw up; on top of all of the horrible things that have happened today, you are now being put on trial before everybody! You swallow profusely, fighting back that nauseous urge and desperately willing the Matriarch to continue, to get to the “but” in her condemnation.

“But,” she says.

She takes a deep breath, as if what she is about to say troubles her so much that she must find the words to carefully express it.

“But, his circumstances are unprecedented,” she says at last.

You hold your breath; surely there must be more to it than that; that in itself is certainly not enough to get you off the hook!

“Never before have we encountered a patriarchal clan,” she continues, her pace slowly quickening. “Never before have we had a chieftain make the demands he has made today. Our celebratory banquet has always been a pleasant affair, and the consummation of our alliance has always been done in privacy. Our laws and mores are harsh—and justly so—and unforgiving—just as they should be—and who among you can say with certainty that he—for I put the burden on the males, who have far more to lose in this arrangement than the females—could have done any better, put on the spot, made to choose between breaking our laws publicly or disobeying his master? Who among you could have allowed himself to be debased, abused, and made to commit a crime tantamount to treason with myself, all in the name of doing what was ordered by a most peculiar master from a most peculiar tribe?”

Bulkun moves to speak, but the Matriarch’s hand flashes up before he can utter a word.

“Just another moment, your lordship,” she says. She exhales sharply. “I am not advocating that the laws that were broken go unpunished,” she says.

Glancing around, you see grim nods of approval at this statement and sigh; you knew you weren’t going to get off for this.

“But, there is a caveat to our great laws that considers the unprecedented.”

This statement causes a general murmuring amongst the tribe, in spite of the intruders; if there’s anything your tribe takes more seriously than its own safety, it’s its laws.

“As you are all aware, the offenses this buck have committed bring unforgivable shame upon himself,” she continues, silencing the hubbub, “And on his family. He is a lost cause, and the only remedy for his family to regain its good name is to disown and banish him, to strip him of his ancestry, and to cast him out. To his mother’s credit, I believe that is what she was about to do when I interrupted her.”

To this, your mother nods sadly.

“I propose, given the circumstances, specifically because his transgressions were caused by a conflict of the laws of our society with the cardinal rules of concubinage—conflicts that had never come to pass before—that since his decision was to sacrifice the laws of the society in order to properly serve his master—a solemn duty that we all hold in high esteem—that we allow him and his family to keep their good name. On one condition.”

You gasp, realizing you haven’t breathed for some time, only to hold your breath again as you await the conditions of your pardon.

“He must make his concubinage permanent,” the Matriarch says grimly.

You bite your lip and do your best to maintain your posture. Permanent? To have to serve this…elk…forever? To never see my family again?

“It serves as banishment of a sort,” the Matriarch continues, “Acting as a deterrent against those who would violate our laws and removing the source of the violation, lest he try to corrupt others with his…detestable ways.”

Detestable? Why is it so bad?

“But, it also allows him to serve in the capacity that he was promised, and hopefully through his actions, he will bring honor and pride to our tribe through his service. Should the great Bulkun desire to bring him along on his travels, he would be welcome back—but only under those conditions.”

You venture a cautious sigh of relief. Well, at least you could see your family again, maybe, if Bulkun ever decides to bring you back with him…if he ever decides to come back…if your tribe will have him back after the things he did today. That’s an awful lot of ifs.

“However—and I repeat—this is to be permanent,” the Matriarch says, turning to look you straight in the eyes. “Should he displease his master, his master is within his rights to chastise him in whatever way necessary, including death, if the transgression warrants. Nor is he ever to run away, as doing so will bring immediate and tenfold shame upon himself and his family. Finally, as is the case for common concubines, he is to be henceforth chattel; if his master tires of him and wishes to trade him to another tribe for a different concubine, or for wares, or for food or other goods, then that is his master’s prerogative.”

Your heart sinks. You’re to be treated as livestock, then.

“It is a severe punishment, but in light of the myriad transgressions committed this day and in view of so many witnesses, I believe it is fair. He will keep his good name, and his family’s, but he will be made to pay the price for his actions.”

With this, she falls silent, and the general murmurings of the tribe strike up again. You cast a glance at Bulkun, who seems more intrigued by the goings-on than interested in interrupting.

“Having discussed the matter, what are the objections?” the Matriarch asks.

“Matriarch,” a voice says.

You turn to look, and one of the elders says, “With this punishment, are the accused’s parents to bear a substitute as would be the law should they banish him?”

The Matriarch shakes her head. “He is not banished; therefore, the onus is not on them to replace him.”

“But we will be shorted his hunting skills,” the elder points out.

“And his scholarship,” says another.

“And our society needs each of its families to produce enough offspring as to avoid making the parents a burden in later years,” the first continues. “Who will take care of them in their old age if not him?”

The Matriarch purses her lips. “You make a sound argument, Elder,” she says. “Yes, his parents shall procreate as they have no other get to care for them in retirement.”

“Matriarch,” another voice says, “What if his lordship Bulkun will not have him as his permanent concubine?”

The Matriarch turns to Bulkun. “What of it, your lordship?” she asks. “Will you take this buck as your permanent concubine, or shall we banish him?”

Bulkun does a double-take. “My gosh, are you serious?” he asks incredulously. “I have my warriors standing by to slit your throats, and all you can do is decide how you will punish the one I have chosen as my concubine for doing what you yourself have confessed to be the best he could do given your arcane and conflicting laws?” He scoffs and shakes his head.

“It is clear that you have no desire to execute my people,” replies the Matriarch, nonplussed, “And I would remind you that while you may hold us hostage now, if you seek to do trade with us in the future, you would do well not to insult our laws as you have already insulted members of our own.”

Bulkun shakes his head again. “Fine, fine, yes, I will take him,” he says dismissively. Muttering under his breath quietly enough that you can hear him but nobody else can, he adds, “I should think it more of a release than a punishment to get out from under such draconian rules.”

Your mind is spinning too much by all that’s happening to agree or disagree.

“Other objections?” says the Matriarch.

“What if his master frees him?” a voice asks.

“He is chattel; if his master wishes to free him, that’s his prerogative,” the Matriarch replies.

“But will he then be welcome back here, as a freeman?”

The air is heavy as the Matriarch thinks about it.

“No,” she says at last. “He comes as a concubine—as chattel—or not at all; he cannot be allowed to have the status of an equal as it could allow him to spread those deviant behaviors. If his master wishes to bring him along as he would an ass or a blanket, then so be it; we will not interfere. But on his own, he shall not return to this place.”

“Isn’t that the same as exile?” someone asks.

“Without the disgrace,” the Matriarch replies. “We cannot allow sowers of discord among our ranks.”

To this good advice, the elders and other members of the tribe all nodded.

“Any other objections? Speak now.”

After a period of silence, the Matriarch turns to you. “You, then, accused, what have you to say for yourself?”

You swallow and look at your feet, realize you’re still naked, and look away. Taking a breath, you say, “Matriarch, I—” You close your eyes, set your jaw, and recompose yourself. “I am truly regretful for my behavior today; all counts—even the unmentionable one—are true, and I was resigned to my exile. On behalf of my family, though, I thank you for granting them a way to keep their good names without having to suffer the pain of uttering the words. I thank you for myself for granting me a way to maintain your good graces—and the good graces of the rest of the tribe. I—words cannot express how truly sorry I am for my actions. I hope that as I work off my penance, I will restore honor to our tribe, to my family, and to myself. To my parents, I—” You look at them, but they cannot bear to look you in the eye. You swallow and sigh. “Never mind. I–I love you both, and I am sorry for the pain I have caused you.”

The Matriarch nods. “Very well. If there is nothing further, then elders, all in favor of committing this punishment upon the accused?”

“Aye.”

“All opposed?”

Oppressive silence.

“Very well. Accused, you are hereby sentenced to permanent concubinage, to serve master Bulkun as he sees fit, according to whatever rules he shall specify. You are to be his chattel, to trade, sell, or dispose of as he sees fit, in his sole discretion. Any attempt to overthrow or run away from him will be met with permanent dishonor and exile to you and to your family. Should your master grant you your freedom, you are not to return to these parts. You may keep your good name, and your family theirs, but you shall not be allowed to return to spread your unclean ways.” She turns to your parents. “You, the accused parents, you may keep your good name on the condition that you bear new offspring to replace the one who has been stripped. This condition is to be fulfilled within the next year, or you forfeit your good name. So judged, on this day.”

“So witnessed,” chorus the elders.

“It is done. My lord Bulkun, if you would spare us any further calamity, please dismiss your men, take your concubine, and go.”

Bulkun purses his lips thoughtfully. “I had far more to teach, but I can tell already that the deep-rooted bigotry and arbitrary laws here will take far more than one feast to cure. I am impressed by your parliamentary procedure, the speed with which you deliver justice, and the clarity with which you and your elders state your cases, Madam Matriarch, but I warn you that such backwardness shall not long forbear amongst your trade partners.” He gives a nod to his warriors, who release their prisoners and vanish into the forest just as suddenly as they appeared. “Come, Vales, permanent concubine”—he snickers, but you’re too numb to contemplate whether it’s at you or at the situation—”Let’s go in peace.”

On rubber legs, you follow him away from the overturned tables and spoilt feast, past your tribe—whose condemning looks you do your best to ignore but can’t help but see—past your parents, who seem torn between hugging you and fleeing from you but who end up doing neither, out of the feast-grounds, past the Matriarch’s tent, past the village center, and down the path that leads to the edge of the village.

On seeing the sharpened wooden spikes that form a simple palisade at the edge of the village, the thought races through your mind that this may be the last time you will see this side of it. A pain in your chest twists your mouth into a grimace. You can’t breathe, and you clutch your chest, which hurts so badly that you drop to a knee, one hand on your chest, the other on the splintered wood.

Bulkun, who was walking ahead of you, stops and turns, sighing.

“There, there, Vales,” he says, lifting you to your feet and draping your free arm over his shoulder. “Nothing here but pain and suffering. I promise, things will get better.”

With that, he takes a step forward, carrying you with him, and you leave the village of your birth behind.

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