A Thousand Lords And One

Chapter 2 - A Sense Of Destiny

by alectashadow

Tags: #cw:incest #cw:noncon #cw:sexual_assault #dom:female #f/f #f/m #pov:bottom #sub:female #bondage #clothing #cw:fascism #D/s #dom:male #dystopia #foot_fetish #foot_kissing #foot_worship #humiliation #hypno #hypnosis #institutional_sadism #multiple_partners #oppression #pov:top #sadomasochism #scifi #slavery #sub:male #worlddomination


I sense the unfolding of my destiny.

It was written long ago. I was always meant for greatness. The moment the Lord Rulers first ran for office with their joke-party, in the last elections ever held in human history… that’s when my future was sealed.

I was only a child, then, and I didn’t know I’d be one of them, soon.

But not soon enough.

It’s criminal, really, how long it’s taken the world to acknowledge that I, Irmgard Gast, am nothing short of Lord Ruler raw material. But at least now I know that I was right.

I’ve been Awakened, and in a short time I’ll crush that formality of a challenge against two losers, and go on to finally claim what is mine.

Of course, it is a bit of a travesty that two lesser creatures as Carolina and Ragnar were Awakened: a slave girl and a guy from an insultingly common family, it’s basically a slight to present them as my peer competitors.

But the more I think about it, the more I realise it makes a weird sort of sense. Of course this “challenge” requires some cannon fodder for me to slap around, before I’m inducted into the inner sanctum of the true power residing at the heart of the world.

I smile. My family has been stuck in the doldrums of regular wealth far too long. Outlandish wealth, to be sure, but… mundane, really. Ordinary.

Rich people have always existed. A wealthy family such as mine is something you might have seen before the Seizure Of Power as well, and therefore… inherently human.

In the New Order, there is no more damning insult than that.

I run a hand through my hair, reassuring myself. The indignity is almost over. Soon, no one will be able to doubt me any more, although frankly any doubters just need but to look at me: I am every inch a queen.

The jade and opal necklace declares it. The glossy sheen of my black boots proclaims it. The form-fitting leather trouses and greatcoat affirm it. I am a queen-in-waiting, a goddess waiting to be born.

To so many petit bourgeois people - like the Bothnias, for instance - dominance is just a word. So is slavery. They've adopted the trappings of the new order, but not its philosophy, its ethos.

They don't understand the artistry of true mastery, not like I do. The deft skill required to slowly peel away at a human mind, until you irreparably damage it, and the victim ends up begging to be enslaved: their only option left for self-fulfilment.

They don't get the velvety cruel aesthetics of dominance and submission. Not like I do. A girl like Carolina – made for breaking, really – is wasted on two dummies like Arthur and Audra. They have her do their homework. God, how dull and unimaginative is that?

But no matter, no matter. Their incompetence just makes my talent shine all the brighter… and gives me a perfect excuse to have some fun with the livestock girl.

I reach the Botnhias' apartment, my heels clicking ominously on the polished marble floor of the hallway – a poor excuse for one, truth be told, but consistent with their limited bourgeois means.

My reflection in the mirror-lined hallway is like a rippling fractal of my power and superiority. The Awakening is making me feel more than human already, as if I’ve been kissed by the sun itself. I wonder if I look different to myself only, or the outside as well. Even my features look different to me today.

I’m confident, regal, splendid - a predator, elegant and ruthless. The corridors stretch out before me like an open field before a conquering general.

It’s Arthur who greets me, with his usual befuddled expression. I’ve only been here yesterday, and he didn’t expect me to pay a second visit so soon. Especially when his sister Audra isn’t at home.

He knows nothing of the Awakening, of course. How could he? His limited mind is not receptive to the astral, otherworldly psionic language of the rightful rulers of mankind. His ears are deaf to the music of the spheres.

The only time he’d ever feel a thought from a Lord Ruler, would be if he is being compelled to obey an order.

Note to self, I’ll have to make sure he experiences that some day, after my ascension.

I spy Carolina in the background, tending to her chores. Her mother Georgia and her brother Utah aren’t in sight. She’s scantily clad in a see-through bedlah, appropriately baring much of her chattel flesh to display.

She raises her head at the intrusion, a hint of surprise lighting in her eyes, before they harden when she recognises me.

Of course she can begin to guess why I'm here.

My dear Carolina. My victory over you may be preordained, but did you really think I would ever let you go off easy? No mind games? No… preparation? What’d be the fun of that?

"Hey, Irmgard," Arthur says, hesitantly. "Audra isn’t, uh… Did you want something?"

With a sly and mischievous grin spreading across my face, I coyly ask, "would it be alright if I borrowed Carolina for a little while?"

My eyelashes flutter innocently as I speak, my tone soft and playful. "I'm planning on going out shopping, and could use a slave to chaperone for me. May I have her collar and leash?"

Even from out here, I hear Carolina's sharp intake of breath. Slaves don’t control their bodies, their minds, their actions. They are tools, and utility is their religion. Only thus can the chaos of the old world give way to a rational, structured optimisation of the human species… and its herders.

Slaves soon learn their own bodies will never belong to them. The fact that this resignation doesn’t inoculate them from pain is what makes it truly delicious. Yes, she logically knows she has no say in this… but she still hates it.

She also knows - as well as I do - that Arthur wouldn't dare refuse me. Both because I'm his social superior, and because the dumb fool still thinks he's actually going to score with me eventually. Ha! As if I'd ever fuck someone so bland and lowly as him. He’s not a slave or even a grunting labourer, to be sure, but…

When set next to a Lord Ruler, even he looks just like chattel to me.

"Sure," Arthur says, always too eager. "Anything you want, Irmgard."

Anything I want. How delightful. The thrill of power is intoxicating as I watch Arthur scramble to fetch Carolina's collar and leash for me, a task he wouldn't ordinarily demean himself to do. But he's doing it now because I asked him to.

Oh, yes, I’ll definitely pay him a visit after my ascension… and it won’t be to fuck him.

Carolina tries to muster the best approximation of dignity a slave is capable of. She returns my stare, her dark eyes a storm of defiance. How delightful it will be to break her, to conquer that spirit and turn her into a docile sex toy with no self-esteem and no intelligence.

There is no better sport in this world than that. No higher cultured pursuit. Taking these mere human beasts of burden, slowly flaying their self-esteem and identity until the animal beneath is exposed…

Then building them back up, artfully, methodically, into a fully enthralled version of themselves…

Tightening your grip, strangling their independence, their ability to think of themselves as people, until it’s utterly snuffed out…

It’s the New Order’s falconry, and poetry, and jousting, all rolled into one. The ultimate pastime for us of the elite, with the ultimate reward, too.

She really is wasted on such an unimaginative owner family as the Bothnias.

"Thank you, Arthur," I say with a smile that doesn't quite reach my eyes as I accept the leash from his hands.

I walk over to Carolina, closing the distance between us. "Don't worry darling," I coo as I clip the leash onto her collar, "we're just going out for a little stroll. I’ll walk you back to your owner soon enough. I know how much you hate being separated from him and Audra!"

“Yes m-m-ma’am,” she says, as she is required to. God, that stutter, she did that yesterday too. The creeping uncertainty… I can see fear swimming in her eyes now, but she quickly looks away.

She follows me out the door with docility born of necessity. As we walk down the beautiful marble corridor again, towards the exit, I can feel every single one of our steps echo through the walls. It’s a fateful sound… almost like a clock, counting down to my hour of victory.

The world outside, though, is not so empty. On the contrary, it’s a kaleidoscope that swallows us whole. Everywhere we look, it’s a triumph of visual and tactile glory, a work of art sculpted by the Lord Rulers’ minds.

People are clad in leather, adorned with boots and gloves - or even more extravagant attire. Some don gauzy silks that whisper in the wind, while others wear translucent bedlahs that reveal tantalising hints of skin.

The wealthy display their status through armlets of gold and opal and jade, dripping with precious gemstones and delicate silks. They flaunt their riches through glistening gold armlets and shimmering silks, but even the slaves are adorned with trinkets and baubles - a reflection of their masters' powers.

Reduced to less than human, they exist to be used and admired. Their masters lead them around on leashes like prized possessions, and as well they should. There is no better possession than a slave, and we should all be grateful that the Lord Rulers bestowed this insight upon us.

No longer are the energies of myriad individuals scattered and wasted in billions of piecemeal efforts, without structure or direction. Instead, the will of the Lord Rulers reshapes, reorders, and redirects. People too weak to stand up for themselves are put to good use, so they can finally contribute according to their limited talents.

It's a beautiful world. Much better than the dreary, colourless thing it used to be, before the Seizure Of Power. Pleasure reigns supreme, a never-ending feast for the senses.

Soon, it'll be my pleasure too.

With a sly smirk, I turn to Carolina and casually ask, "Do you know where we're heading?"

I’m genuinely curious if she’s figured it out. She must have expected me to try something, surely. Even if this were a real fight – and it clearly is not – our starting positions are hardly equal, like all things in life.

She is nothing but a slave, with no time of her own and no resources to mobilise. She can't train her dormant psionic powers, can’t simply begin exploring the astral plane. And even if she can – I can just barge in at any time and nuke all her arrangements, spiriting her away.

She’d be naïve not to expect me to press that advantage. But is she clever enough to understand how I intend to toy with her?

It seems not. That’ll make her reaction all the more magnificent to behold.

As we approach the bustling slave market known as the Candy Shop, I study Carolina's face closely. There it is - the moment when realisation dawns on her.

Her confidence drains away from her all at once, like strength literally leaving her body. Her features contort and her eyes fill with fear. Her muscles tremble and slacken, a wonderful, surprisingly erotic display… the ebbing of resistance.

It breaks her heart, to be back here. It stops just being a game, and it plunges her straight into her personal nightmare. It's a sight that brings me so much joy, to see her suffer in the same place where her life has been destroyed.

Slave markets are as common as one would expect of a civilised society. There is nothing more valuable than this commodity, after all: it is the ultimate finished product, requiring tangible raw materials and intangible inputs on a mind-boggling scale.

And the end result? It’s just art, pure and simple, art in its most unadulterated form… and a very good investment, too.

The Candy Shop isn't just any market. It’s huge, an open-air area of commerce sprawling over a suburb’s worth of surface area. Its tight alleys bustle with the noble traffic of enthralled human flesh, its vendors boast as wide a selection as the owner of good taste could dream of.

But maybe most importantly…

It's the same market where Carolina and her family were sold into slavery. There is no greater downfall, no greater defeat, than plunging to the status of property. This place holds so much pain for Carolina, and I will revel in every second of it.

As we walk towards the entrance, Carolina's steps become slower and more hesitant. Her eyes dart around nervously, avoiding any lingering glances from passersby.

“Do you dream of this place, I wonder?” I say, in a neutral voice that contrasts with my sadistic glee. “Does it keep you up at night? Does your heart pound at the prospect that some day, you might return here, to be sold once more?”

I take pleasure in this moment, knowing that I have power beyond that of status and wealth, right now. No, I own her mind. Just by bringing her here, I’ve bypassed her defences, gotten inside her head. I intend to do a lot of damage in there.

As we make our way through the crowded alleys of the market, I take in the sights and sounds of my surroundings. The noise is everywhere: people shouting and bargaining, the sound of whips cracking against flesh, moans and little whelps of pleasure and pain.

The air is thick with the scent of sweat and perfume, mingling with the rhythmic beat of drums and the grunts of pleasure from behind velvet curtains, as clients have their way with the flesh on offer.

This is, of course, mundane slavery, human slavery. Collars of leather, not thought. Even so, it’s impossible not to be enraptured by this highest display of civilised commerce, and the aesthetics of power.

My eyes are drawn to the elaborate displays of human merchandise - sculpted bodies glistening with sweat, adorned with jewels and feathers, being paraded and auctioned off to the highest bidders, as befits their status.
Decorations, tools of labour, sex toys. Freed from the trappings of their pretensions at humanity, they are now lesser, and all at once… more.

It delights me so, to see them sold like they're nothing more than livestock. The thought of owning them, controlling every inch of their being, sends shivers down my spine in anticipation. Oh, how deliciously sinful it is to see them objectified and traded as nothing more than exotic pets or fine art pieces.

No matter how many slaves grace our household, I always want more. I always want to re-experience that thrill, which is why I often visit the Candy Shop even if I don’t feel like buying. And in truth, I do intend to buy today. We could use one more breeding male as part of our livestock in the estate.

But that’s not the deeper reason why I’m here today.

I watch as Carolina's lips quiver and tremble. She’s trying to hold her composure, but I see right through her. She may be walking beside me, but the divide between us is immeasurable, because I get to identify with the clients, and she doesn’t.

Worse: she identifies with her merchandise. A small voice in her head is telling her that this Awakening is just a cruel illusion that will soon be stripped away from her. Life has always been cruel to her, so why would that change now?

Even though she may have escaped this place physically, it still holds a firm grip on her mind. That small, insidious voice is telling her that she deserves to be property.

I intend to snuff out every other voice in her head, until that tremulous one is all the introspection she’s capable of. After I defeat her – and Ragnar, naturally. After I claim her as my slave. Not a slave to the household, but to me alone. After I train her.

After I break her.

Her, but not her family. I have something else in mind for them.

“Tell me,” I say at last. “Do you recognise anyone at the auction bloc? The merchants, the handlers, the tamers?”

Carolina shivers, but I stop to stare at her, leaving her no option to evade the question this time. She already looks so much weaker than she did minutes ago. She can’t help but stammer, which makes my smile stretch even more.

“M-m-ma’am, when you’re a slave…” her voice drops to a whisper. “You have to know these things. Who is gentle, who is cruel. Who’s in it for the money alone, and who’ll give you a bit more food if you gently nurse his cock…”

Yes. Yes. “Could you point out the cruelest to me?”

“It’s been years, ma’am, but…” Carolina’s face furrows in concentration. “There’s Hobb and sons, if they’re still in business… but ma’am, why would you like to know?”

She’s walked right into it. Oh God, so predictable, so perfect.

“Because,” I tell her, with the most patronising tone I can muster, “that’s where I intend to buy the next breeding stud for my household, silly. When you’re defeated and transferred to me, I’ll need a male slave to get you pregnant, obviously. Don’t worry, I’ll exowomb the litter afterwards.”

I keep my eyes fixed on her face. It’s lovely, the transformation, the moment of puzzled confusion, and the way it slowly begins to morph into slowly dawning horror.

“I’ll make sure to pick two different merchants to sell your mother and brother to,” I continue. “That way, the three of you will all end up having different owners, will likely never see each other again. We’ll have to think of something else, something fitting, creative. I guess I’ll ask you to help with that choice. After all… that’s what a dutiful slave would do for her new owner.”

“N-n-no,” Carolina says, taking a step back, and for once, I’m not annoyed at the breach of etiquette. The fact that she’s forgetting her manners is a sign that I’ve truly punched through her defenses, now. There’s no way she’ll go into our fight with a clear mind, not anymore.

She knows that once Utah and Georgia are sold off, she truly, surely, will never see them again.

The Bothnias may protest when I buy all three of their slaves, of course, but you don’t say no to a Lord Ruler. Besides, I’ll be generous if they don’t piss me off, and pay premium for all three of them. That way the Bothnias can buy themselves a new set of slaves, and still come out ahead.

That little price is worth it, because the impact this will have on Carolina is simply priceless.

Separation does wonders for breaking a submissive mind - it destabilises and disassembles it. It will make it even easier for me to manipulate and control her. It will greatly aid me in completely breaking down Carolina as an aspiring, independent human being.

And with her family gone, there will be nothing left for her to cling onto except for me, the wealthy, superior girl who conquered and tamed her. Who denied her ascension to godhood, and claimed her for herself instead.

God, just thinking about it is making me breathe a little faster. There’s no denying the heat between my thighs. I might just make use of one of the private rooms here, and give Carolina a taste of her future life. Literally and metaphorically.

But before I do that, there is one more stop we need to make.

I smirk as I approach a discreet stall tucked away in a corner. The dealer greets me with a knowing smile and hands over a small vial filled with clear liquid. The price is exorbitant, but well within my means.

To a newly Awakened mind, this is the psionic equivalent of what coffee is to a mere human. It’s probably overkill, let’s be honest, but why should I forgo any advantage before the fight?

On Carolina’s face, shock has been replaced by defeat. She just looks so exhausted, which of course I absolutely love. Her eyes are filled with a mix of envy, rage, and the beginnings of despair as she looks at me. Finally, she’s starting to truly comprehend the power I hold over her. Aww, so cute.

I wonder if I can make her cry.

"This," I lift the vial to her face, "just cost me more than your entire family ever cost the Bothnias when they bought you here."

I have no way of knowing if that’s literally true, but neither does she, and that’s enough for me. Her eyes flicker to the vial then back up to meet mine.

Even underneath all the fear, tiredness and defeat, there is still a distant fire in them, a last spark of defiance that I intend to extinguish. It amuses me, her futile attempts at rebellion. It only makes my coming victory that much sweeter to anticipate.

I lean in closer, taking immense pleasure in watching her stiffen under my gaze. My voice drops to a whisper, a soft yet chilling promise. "You were on your knees for me yesterday. Can you deny my skillful, guiding hand?"

She swallows hard but doesn't respond, her lack of words confirming what I already know - she is afraid. Because yesterday, I did completely dominate her, and today, I’m playing her like a fiddle. Given endless time and unlimited access to her body and mind… how else could I transform her?

"Remember all the things I told you, what I want to do to you," I say, so close to her now that our lips are almost brushing. “Imagine how much more they will hurt, once I literally destroy your only chance at ever escaping slavery. When I tear your family apart…”

Carolina is rigid, desperately trying to be as passive as possible as my arrms envelop her, as my lips gently rub against hers. Her eyes are wide and vivid, a myriad of emotions flickering in their depths. They finally settle on fear - raw, unadulterated fear.

I can’t wait to make those eyes go glassy and empty.

"Imagine," I breathe onto her lips. "The pleasure of complete surrender. The intoxicating feeling of your very humanity being peeled away from you." My fingers trace down her neck, sneaking under her collar, eliciting a shiver from her. "Being nothing more than my canvas. There is no greater surrender. No greater act of love. No greater act of utility.”

Her eyes were glaze over with lust and fear, a heady combination that only makes me want her more. "You think what we did yesterday was humiliating? I can make you submit in ways you've never even dreamed of, girl," I murmur against her throat, before pulling back slightly to watch her reaction.

I see her struggle to maintain her composure, but the fear is still evident in her eyes. The fear that I will use this power against her. The fear – no, the knowledge - that I will break her.

Leaning closer, I bask in the fear that radiates from her body. My voice drops to a seductive whisper, sending shivers down her spine. "The Bothnias are too milquetoast. I’m sure you’ve never had the chance to see true power.”

I want her. I want her right now. I’m sure the merchant Hobb will not begrudge me if I use his shop’s pleasure room to ride Carolina’s face. I will be buying a breeding stud from him, afterwards.

"Have you?" I purr, gently tugging at her ear lobe with my teeth. "Have you ever seen a slave mind just… unravel?"

I see the struggle in her eyes as she tries to remain still, but it only adds fuel to the fire within me. Because deep down, she believes me.

"Do you understand now, Carolina?" I ask softly, almost tenderly as if genuinely concerned for her well-being. "Do you see why you can never win?"

I don’t wait for her to answer. I wrap my fist around her leash and give a sharp tug, and the way she immediately half-stumbles forward, the way she complies with the pressure like a trained dog, tells me all I need to know about this pathetic bitch.

"Come, doggy,” I coo.

She follows.

Hobb makes no protest, especially after I point out a tall and muscular specimen as the one I want him to ring up from me. The male is expensive, as well he should be – he looks the immaculate embodiment of masculine slavery. Strong, yet docile, virile, yet utterly broken.

The criss-crossing scars left on his back by the bite of the whip, and his impeccably submissive demeanour as he poses for prospective clients, say everything there is to know about that.

I drag Carolina – stunned into silent compliance – into the pleasure room, a small space with minimal furniture, the bare essential for prospective customers to try out the human cattle they might like to purchase.

There’s no need for preambles. I’ve been working her mind all morning, and now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of my labour. I throw her on the bed, disrobe, climb atop her, and unceremoniously sit myself on top of her.

She emits a soft, defeated oomph sound as my weight pushes her head down into the mattress. I press my legs tight around her face, enclosing her in the grip of my thighs, a sheer experience of visual and tactile sexual power. I want her to feel taken, overpowered, destroyed.

I start gyrating atop her face, making sure to squash her nose and lips, using her as a passive object for my own sexual stimulation. I’m sure she hates it, down to her core. I’m sure she’s spent every hour since the Awakening, dreaming about social mobility, being freed of slavery, and her family with her…

For a while, it let her feel like a person again. And now, I’m taking it all away. Pressing her into the dirt. Reminding her that she’s nothing.

She hates it, I’m sure, but what must destroy her even more, is that she’s helpless to stop it.

I press down harder, enjoying the muffled piglet squeals vibrating against my cunt, as I master her very breath with my sex. She writhes beneath me, so weak, so inherently inferior – until I lift myself off her face, letting her take in a precious lungful of air.

And then, I sit back down.

Her eyes are red and puffy, glistening with tears. They look up from between my thighs, a sight so sexy that it makes me instinctively grind even harder against her face. God, after I beat her, I am going to spend the rest of my life fucking her into complete submission.

This is what I was born for.

And when at last she complies with my unspoken will, and her tongue snakes out to render proper homage, I know that deep down, she realises… she was born for this, too.


“You yielded to your animal instincts, it seems.”

What? I wheel around, too confused to even be angry yet – who’d dare say such a thing to me? And whose business is it of them?


“You,” I say to the unassuming young man standing before me. Ragnar.

“Me indeed,” he says, inclining his head in mock acknowledgement. His reserved demeanour and calculated calmness is surely an affectation. He’s a nerd, a loser, bookish to a fault, too queasy to enjoy the proper pastimes of a member of high society – like slavery.

Thart’s only fair, I suppose – he’s not part of high society, after all. Still, by rights he ought to be intimidated and overawed by my mere presence. His refusal to be deferential unnerves me, almost as if he’s somehow cheating.

Does the bookworm think he’s catching me at a vulnerable moment, straight out of the pleasure room? He should know better. If he smelled Carolina’s face right now, he could smell my pussy juices on her skin still.

"Well, hello, Ragnar," I say at last, trying to regain my composure. “Why are you poking your nose into my business?”

He arches an eyebrow. “Irmgard, in a manner of days, we’re going to be battling it out in a psionic struggle whose true nature can only be described, but not truly understood beforehand,” he says, in that pedantic, punctilious tone he uses instead of sarcasm. “Until then, your business is my business.”

That smarts. It smarts more than I care to admit, because of course, it’s exactly the same motivation that led me to seek out Carolina today. But that just angers me even more, because it’s not the same! These… creatures are not my peer competitors. They’re not really in the fight.

They just exist to give me someone to crush.

Uggh, the gall of this guy. At least, years of slavery have softened Carolina’s will, prepared her for destruction. But when Ragnar learns his place, it’ll come as a shock to him, I suspect.

"Very well then," I concede, my voice a calculated stab of cordiality. "I’m sure your experience of sex is animalistic. You’re a simple boy, I know. But forging true slaves is not instinct, it is art. I guess I’ll just have to, uh… show you first-hand some day,” I say, batting my eyelashes at him.

He eyes me carefully, then looks at Carolina, and finally back at me. "I don’t see a slave with her owner," he replies finally, brushing some imaginary dust off his coat. "I just see a girl who wanted oral sex, and a girl who provided it. Under duress, to be sure, but please, don’t call it art. That’s awfully presumptuous. You just wanted to get your rocks off, say it, it’s not that big of a deal."

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. Instead, I put on a well-practiced smile, even though I hate how I feel like he’s leading me on. Like I’m not in control of the conversation.

“I’m glad to see you’re so acquainted with my subconscious,” I say, mock-sweetly. “I would expect no less of such a scholarly mind. I can only hope I’ll be able to answer your theory with some of my… practice.”

I make to walk away, tugging Carolina’s leash, satisfied at my comeback – but Ragnar is apparently not done yet.

“Ability is utility,” he begins to recite. “Utility is value. Value is dignity. Dignity is freedom.”

I turn towards him once more, giving an exasperated sigh. “Can you get to the point, please?”

“Haven’t you ever wondered what dignity means, in that slogan?” He cracks a cold smile and says, "Powerful people don't need to remind others they're powerful. They don’t rush into pleasure rooms in a fit of sexual lust."

I laugh in his face.

"Ah, Ragnar," I say, shaking my head and chuckling. "Such quaint notions you have about power. I’m afraid that, once again, your reading is not serving you so well as, ah, let’s say… first-hand experience.”

“The Lord Rulers do not look kindly upon insecurity,” he says, more sharply now. “They don’t need to stomp their feet to be obeyed, they don’t need their slaves to sexually gratify them… they just take what is theirs. All they need do is send out a single thought, rippling like the sea in storm… and their will is done.”

I blink, trying to follow where this is going.

“If you win the fight, and fuck the loser, then she is your just reward, and indulging is a sign of civilised behaviour,” Ragnar continues. “But until the fight, she’s not just any other slave… and you haven’t beaten her yet. By fucking her now, you’ve only showm that your baser instincts control you. Obviously you, as an aspiring Lord Ruler, know their ethos well enough, and what they have to say about something like that…”

"Do not presume to lecture me, boy,” I say, any pretense at cordiality forgotten. “You should focus on savouring these last moments as equals," I tell him, my voice low and threatening. "Well… not really equals."

His gaze remains unflinching, cool as the steel blade that he carries at his hip – a ceremonial item to make himself look important, I suppose, as if I would ever forget that he’s of common blood.

"We'll see," he says, his voice steady. "But no matter how much you spend, Irmgard, no drug will win the battle for you. Do you really think the Lord Rulers so mundane?"

The drug, too? How long has this rat-faced prick been shadowing me today? My hands ball into fists. God, I want to punch the smugness out of his face, but that would only prove his point.

The unfortunate truth is that he’s right, after a fashion. He regards me with an indecipherable gaze, his steady blue eyes reflecting nothing but cool calculation.

“Believe me when I say,” I snarl out at last, “if I really was governed by my instincts, this conversation would have already turned into something far uglier. Let’s go, Carolina. It won’t be long until he’s forced to learn the meaning of true power.”

It’s a poor comeback, I know, but all I could say to salvage my injured pride. Ragnar doesn't rise to the bait but simply nods, the corners of his mouth twitching in what might be amusement or disdain.

"I suppose I will," he replies nonchalantly, adjusting the cuffs of his well-tailored coat.

Glancing at Carolina, who's been silent throughout our exchange, I notice her gaze fixated on Ragnar - her countenance suddenly a little more spirited. Of course the stupid bitch would feel grateful for this white knight display, never mind the fact that Ragnar is technically her own rival as well. If she thinks he’ll go easy on her during our battle, she’s an idiot.

He just wants her for himself, that’s all.

Fuck. Why couldn’t he just stay out of it? Right now, I’d be basking in the afterglow of making Carolina eat me out to multiple orgasms, instead of seething at this indignity.

I sigh, trying to calm down. I still scored a victory today. Carolina will soon be mine, and as for Ragnar… there will be time to make him pay. With interests.

A bookish, loser boy without a spine can't stop destiny, and there is only one truly meaningful victory left for me to claim: The Lord Ruler's position.

Individual battles notwithstanding, the war is far from over.

In the new order, it's never over.

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