The soft lighting up against the vaulted ceiling made the dungeon look cosy. Quiet music could be heard whenever the whips and floggers paused or were put down. Someone in the room moaned and gasped.
A much harsher spotlight was aimed at the stage, and a small crowd of kinksters dressed in black, latex and leather gathered to watch. A tall man with long blonde hair wearing a top hat and a black suit went on the stage and spread his arms. "Good evening people, welcome to the Sven and Gali show. I am Sven and please give her a round of applause: Gali!"
Octavia stepped onto the stage, wearing a little blue dress and her long hair in a braid as usual. She smiled and closed her eyes in a modest expression. The little crowd was full of friendly faces, Dan, Artemis, Emrys and others, but the spotlight made her feel shy.
"I will start with the Trick with the Balls!" Sven announced with a flourish. "Gali, did you bring the balls?"
She smiled mischievously. "Yes, I'm holding your balls in my hand."
As the crowd chuckled, she ceremoniously offered him a set of five red balls, one by one, and he started to juggle them. When he was successfully keeping all five of them up the air, there was a polite applause.
"You must be so focused right now, Sven." Octavia started to speak in her melodious hypnotist voice. "The balls and the movements of your arms take up all your attention right now. Let your world grow smaller and smaller, more and more focused on the balls. Nothing else matters. Focus on your balls."
"Focus on my balls." Sven muttered and another chuckle rose from the crowd, but it died down when he started to repeat that phrase, over and over, as he continued to juggle, staring up at the balls in the air. His voice took on an eerie monotonous quality, like a robot stuck in a loop.
Octavia moved behind Sven, groping his butt first and then reaching around to touch his crotch. There was no reaction from Sven, he repeated the mantra without pause. Octavia grinned as she fondled the belt of his trousers and pulled it loose. The trousers dropped down to his ankles and Sven's erection was visible through a black thong. Even when the crowd cheered and clapped, Sven continued to stare up and repeat his mantra.
Octavia took a step back to let everyone admire the spectacle and then raised her hand in the air, ready to snap her fingers. "Thank you, Sven. That was amazing. You can now drop!"
When she snapped, Sven's eyes closed, his head slumped forward, his arms dropped to his sides and all of the balls fell to the floor. She waited for the audience to finish cheering and then she touched him on the shoulder. "Sven. Sven, wake up!"
He jolted awake and seemed momentarily confused. Then he smiled at the audience and exclaimed: "The Trick with the Pants, everyone!" He kicked the pants to the side of the stage, walking around in his suit and top hat and his thong now.
As they applauded again, he started to search for the balls on the floor, while Octavia waited patiently. He picked up one of the balls and gave it to her. When he turned and bent down to look for the next one, she slapped him on the buttock. Her mischievous grin made the audience laugh again. He brought her a second and a third ball, but there didn't seem to be any more lying on the floor.
"Where are the others?" Octavia asked in a stage whisper.
He shrugged as he looked around some more. Then he asked her: "What did you do to my balls?"
Staring at his crotch, she replied: "Nothing yet. They're red, not blue."
As the audience laughed, Sven squinted at her, thinking.
Octavia placed her hands on her hips. "What are you looking at?"
"People always say you have balls, Octavia… I mean, Gali." And Sven approached her and put his hand under her skirt. She yelped in mock shock and when he pulled his hand back out, he was holding the last two red balls.
"The Trick with the Balls, everyone! Thank you." And they both bowed until the applause died away.
With another flourish, Sven announced: "And now, the Trick with the Box!"
Octavia frowned for a moment and asked: "What's the Trick with the Box?"
"I want to put my balls in your box, Gali." He emphatically waggled his eyebrows and vaguely gestured with the red balls in the general direction of her skirt.
Laughter erupted from the audience as Octavia squinted with disapproval. She turned and walked off-stage for a moment to fetch a box the size of a pile of books, decorated with many tiny mirrors on the lid and the sides. When she returned to the stage, she handed the box to Sven, and he gave her the red balls.
"I will now make my balls disappear in Gali's box!" Sven grinned as he opened the lid and showed the box off. It had a left lid and a right lid that could open and close independently, and it seemed to be empty and otherwise normal.
It was unclear whether the crowd laughed at Sven's joke again, or at Octavia rolling her eyes as she ceremoniously handed Sven the first ball.
Sven dropped the ball into the box and closed both lids. "Abracadabra!" He grinned at the audience as he angled the box right side down and opened the left lid. "And look! It's empty!" After showing it to the audience, he closed it again, then angled the box right side down and opened the left lid. "Completely empty! See?" He closed the lid and held out his hand for the next ball.
Octavia handed him another red ball and turned away from him, disparagingly shaking her head as he made the second ball 'disappear' in exactly the same way.
"And the box is still…" he paused to angle and shake the box. "...completely empty! See?"
As she handed him the next ball, she grumbled under her breath, but just loud enough for everyone to hear it. "Sven… What are you doing?"
He staunchly continued shaking the box before opening one of the lids and showing half of the bottom of the box to the audience. "I'm making my balls disappear in your box!" As if repeating the joke would make it any better.
With a sigh Octavia grabbed hold of the box, even though Sven was still holding it, she stuffed the last two balls in it and shook the box. The noise the closed box made suggested there were several balls inside it. Sven blushed and opened his mouth to speak, but she shook her head at him while she stared him down.
For a moment they stood there, their hands on the box, and their eyes locked. The audience watched with baited breath. Then Octavia started to speak.
"Am I the only one here who can do magic? This enchantment that makes your mind go blank and open? I want you to pay attention for a moment. No jokes. No distractions. Just my eyes. Lulling you to sleep."
When she pulled the box out of his hands, his eyes closed and head flopped down dramatically as he swayed on his feet. Seemingly worried that he would fall, Octavia dropped the box on the podium to grab him by the shoulders and hold him steady. Behind her on the floor the box broke open, showing the empty bottom to everyone in the audience, all of the balls had disappeared. The audience cheered and applauded quickly, impressed but also impatient to find out what would happen next.
When all was quiet again, Octavia continued: "Have you ever seen one of those illusionists from Vegas, Sven? The way they dance across the stage? The air of mystery and power in their every move? I'm certain you can do that too. As you take a deep breath, you can just feel yourself changing, growing more confident, more graceful and mysterious. You'll wake up a real illusionist on three. One, suave and charming. Two, elegant and ready perform real magic. And three, wide awake." With a hand on his shoulder, she looked at him expectantly.
Sven's posture changed as soon as he opened his eyes. Somehow, he looked even taller than before. He took his top hat off with a flourish and a bow, and then he dashed off stage with the grace of a real showman. When he returned a moment later, he pulled a large box the size of a closet onto the stage. It was decorated with lots of tiny mirrors, just like the smaller box. He placed the box center stage and then went down on one knee in front of Octavia to kiss her hand.
Octavia giggled and blushed. "What is this, Sven? Where did that box come from?"
He gave her a smouldering look and jumped to his feet again. He opened the box to show it off, and when he closed it again, he also took the time to turn it around to show off the glittering mirrors on the sides and the back of the box. When he was done, he opened the box again and theatrically motioned to Octavia, giving her another seductive look.
"You want me to get in the box?" She laughed nervously. "You're not going to saw it in half, are you?"
He inclined his head and took a step closer to cup her jaw in his hand. This moment of eye-contact was so different than a few minutes ago, he was leading her now, convincing her to step into the box, with only his eyes. She took a deep breath and finally nodded. He backed away and held the door open for her. As she stepped inside, something rattled against the side of the box.
"What's that?" She picked it up and tuned to show it to the audience. "Sven, everyone knows I hate chains. They're heavy and cold and ouchie." The audience had a quick laugh at the role reversal and her choice of words.
The chains jangled ominously as Sven slowly pulled them out of the box to show off the length and the fact that one end was bolted to the inside of the box. Then he slung the chains around her torso and arms and pulled it through another metal loop inside the box. Then he pulled the chains through a hole in the side of the box and stepped aside to pull the chain whilst showing to the audience how uncomfortable that made Octavia.
With her arms pressed to her sides by the chains, she squirmed and complained: "Sven, what is the point of this exercise? I'm not actually enjoying any part of this. What are you going to…"
Sven reached over to place his finger on her lips. Her eyes grew large and a hush came over the crowd. Dan approached the stage with a nervous look, but Talon laid their hand on his shoulder and moved in to hold him close. It seemed to be all part of the show, after all.
With a flashy move, Sven pulled the chain tighter one more time and Octavia grimaced at the crowd. Then he closed the door of the box and turned the box around while holding the chain taut. When he had taken the box full circle and returned to the same place again he smirked at the audience. Suddenly, he pulled the chains out through the hole in the side until all of it was lying in a pile at his feet, no longer attached to anything. As the audience applauded politely, he bowed and then moved to the front of the box. But as he opened the door and showed the audience that the box was empty now, he tripped over the pile of chains and fell on his back.
The cheers from the crowd turned into concern as several people tried to get up on the stage to check on Sven. He sat up and gave the audience a goofy grin.
"The Trick with the Box, everyone!" He rose to his feet and urged everyone to get off the stage and just applaud. He seemed to be back to his old self, not a hint of grace or smoulder. He wandered around the stage for a moment and then approached the audience, clearing his throat.
"Have you seen Gali? Where did she go?"
There was a moment of confused silence before Octavia walked onto the stage from the side with a beaming smile. "Sven, you goofball!"
They joined hands and bowed for a moment, letting the crowd applaud.
Finally, Sven raised his right hand above his head. "And now, the Trick with the Hand, everyone!"
The audience went quiet and waited for the next trick. Octavia also raised her hand just like Sven. And then they both waved. "Goodbye! Thank you."