Chapter 4:

All in the Name of Service

Afflicted by Snow

Note: I forgot to mention that this work
would have adult themes in the summary,
so please be wary of that!
Any actual NSFW will be limited to select
chapters which will be flagged accordingly
As another note, things get worse before
they get better and the romance is
more along the lines of a slow burn, 
along with it not coming too much
into play until much later
(Though I'm sure most people
imagined that from how it's been
so far lmfao)

     It seemed like the manticore would only show up annually, considering that in the two years since it had only appeared once each year. Typically the forest would alert Linias of its resurrection, then once he confirmed that his Master was safe and asleep he would sneak out to fell it once again. In the process he collected a few extra slight scars, but nothing as bad as his eye — at least not yet.

And in terms of his mutilated right eye, he was able to heal it after the allotted month and regain some of his sight, though it remained discolored and cloudy compared to its silver counterpart. If he wasn’t told to wait so long to heal it, it probably would’ve been completely functional but it thankfully didn’t bother him too much.

Though he didn’t heal the scar it left and never did for any scar for that matter. He’d heal the wound to a close, sure, but never the scar itself. He wanted a reminder of his mistakes so that he’d never perform them again.

Now at the ripe entry to young adulthood age of 18, Dharax believed it was time for Linias to expand his capabilities beyond combat and for that there was only one teacher: Mitsuyo. As the owner of The Fox’s Den, the largest brothel chain in the world, she was a master of both verbal and nonverbal communication and conversation as well as the art of pleasing others.

Many considered the kitsune to be conniving and self-interested and that was in no means a lie. The only reason she even agreed to teach Linias in the first place was not only because of a supposed ‘debt’ she needed to repay to Dharax but also because she saw it as an investment. After all, who knows when a tool like Linias would be useful in the future.

Behind the curtains Dharax had made all the arrangements, all Linias had to do now was make his way to her brothel every other night once Haetia was sound asleep. It would be the first time he’d go to another village outside of Gwyneira since he wasn’t allowed to stray too far away from the town in the first place; unless it was to fend off trespassers of course.

Even without the guidance of the foliage he was still well off when it came to navigation and so in no time he found himself at the brothel house.

Right as soon as he entered he was greeted by the fabled and unmistakable owner of The Fox’s Den, considering her extravagant yet revealing kimono and long, voluminous jet black hair.

“You must be Linias, right? Oh who am I kidding, of course you are! Not many people match your description anyways. Plus, I can tell when Dharax has had his hand on someone. Come, come!”

Mitsuyo flipped around, tails pridefully swaying behind her with attentive furred ears as she parted the crowd with just her aura alone. The brothel was as busy as Linias imagined it to be and frankly it was overwhelming. He wasn’t used to such boisterous crowds of people, let alone how much nudity was being flashed about him.

Of course he knew of the concept of lust and sex but it wasn’t something that interested him since he was taught early on to forgo any such desires. The only reason he was being taught all this more thoroughly now was because Dharax and Haetia’s father both thought it best for Linias to be able to tend to all of Haetia’s needs, including sex if necessary. For now that was a far off future however, since Haetia was still only 11, but as always Linias always needed to be several steps ahead and prepared for anything.

Soon enough they reached a private and surprisingly quiet bedroom which only consisted of the two of them. Mitsuyo sat on the edge of the bed, directing Linias to remain standing in front of her while taking an extensive inhale from her kiseru pipe.

“I’m sure you know why Dharax sent you here right? As in what I’m supposed to be teaching you?”

“Yes…” Linias paused, unsure what honorific to use. “...Ma’am.”

“Oh please, I’m old in retrospect but not that prickly. Mitsuyo is fine. Take off your shirt.”

Linias did as he was directed and turned around slowly as she gestured the motion with her pipe.

“Eugh–I mean, sorry. Just I can tell that Dharax has his vile grip on you. You’re still young and you’ve already got scars! I knew I had my work cut out for me but…” The brothel’s owner sighs, simultaneously exhaling a cloud of smoke.

Then, at the call of her whistle a group of employees enter, forcibly seating Linias down and studying every speck of his body all while giddily whispering to each other about how to embellish him.

“We’re gonna fix…this…” she gestured again with her pipe, “up. Not every person likes the sight of scars and what I’m going to teach you is how to be a people pleaser so that needs to change. What people CAN generally appreciate are some tattoos. Those kinds of threatening ones - no - but I mean the nicer ones. If you don’t have an idea of what you want I’ll have them suggest some things to you–”


“Flowers?” Mitsuyo double blinked, eyeing Linais up and down to search for a hint of a joke.


“I mean, that’s fine, that’s perfect actually. I just didn’t think a victim of his would say FLOWERS of all things. Maybe you’re not as tainted as I thought you were.”

Once again Mitsuyo gestures to the group with her pipe and immediately they get to work sketching over the scars. The instant one tries to sketch over his scarred right eye, Linias slaps their hand away.

“Not my eye.”

They look back to Mitsuyo for confirmation, to which she nods albeit a bit questioning though she infers why.

As the employees work on covering the other scars with floral tattoos, the kitsune begins her lesson, “So, this stoic thing Dharax has you doing, you’re going to have to learn to switch it on and off because in order to be appeal to others you’ll need to be an actor, that is be whatever the other person wants you to be. A friend to talk to, an affectionate boyfriend, a passionate lover, or even an abuser, whatever it is. In short, whatever Dharax taught you, put it aside for now. The only thing you should carry over is the skill to watch people and know their intentions. That’s a core aspect of pleasing others. I’ll bounce between teaching you all the aspects of a conversation and the hands on things, but when it comes to the latter I’ll just be observing. I’ll have some of my employees actually work-work with you since this,” she points to herself, “is very expensive and also not for sale.”

The needles pierce his skin and he slightly winces but it’s nothing that he isn’t used to already.

“You’re special, you know. I wouldn’t want to teach someone as young as you, but as Dharax said, ‘A horse should learn to gallop before it gets used to a trot.’ Though I’d disagree.” Mitsuyo taps the embers out of her pipe. “We’ll leave it at the tattoos for today. When you get more scars, as I’m sure you will, make sure to get them covered up again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a business to run.”

She bounces off the bed, Linias only just realizing she was walking around barefoot and on her toes this whole time.

“Oh, before I forget. I’m quite the informant I’ll have you know, so if for some reason in the future if you have a desire for information, you know who to come to. For a price that is.” The ebony fox smirks, a conniving shine sparkling her sharp, hot pink irises.

He didn’t necessarily trust her but it’s not like he had many options nor choices in that regard. At the least it felt…different, the whole atmosphere around her that is. Likely because all he’s ever known was Gwyneira and a bit of the area around it, but even he knew that soon enough there would come a time where they’d have to leave Haetia’s hometown and all of this was just preparation for that day.


     As instructed, Linias went every other day to be taught by Mitsuyo while Dharax watched Haetia in his stead. He didn’t have a preference for men or women anyways and he especially needed to maintain that neutrality for his ‘acting’. Surprisingly, the lessons taught by Dharax in the past somewhat overlapped with Mitsuyo’s from time to time, at least in the aspect of not becoming attached to people.

And in nine years, Mitsuyo wrapped a bow on him and declared her lessons over. So, it was back to watching Haetia 24/7 for Linias. By this point, he had accumulated even more scars, mostly from the vengeful manticore who slowly began to appear less and less as it likely began to come to terms with its defeat.

Some scars even tainted the back of his hands, but he covered them all with floral designs all the same – all except his right eye that is. That, he wished to remain as is as a permanent reminder of his duty and what would happen if he faltered.

Now 27 and Haetia 20, it was much harder for Linias to deal with the Young Lord. He was always bringing home some form of boy – never girls unless for a makeover party – and it was always Linias’s job to take care of them after the fact, and today was no different.

     Haetia waddled through the hallway–probably tipsy–with a young man clinging his waist…and Linias not too far behind. They were always residents of the town so he wasn’t too worried about them pulling a fast one on his Master. Dharax and Haetia’s father both rest assured that not a single resident here would even think about harming him and with how much everyone spoils him Linias didn’t really doubt that fact either.

The young man stopped in front of the entrance to the bedroom, staring down Linias from a cautious yet not all that safe distance. “He’s not gonna follow us inside is he?”

“Of fucking course not–Ugh, ew.” Haetia rolled his uniquely dyed eyes. “Linias stand over there or something.” He shooed him towards the opposing wall, to which the servant listened.

“Woahh, so he really does do whatever you ask?”

“If you want you can have him, his ugly blank face is such a mood killer. Here, watch this. Linias, sit on all fours.”

As his Master directed, Linias once again obeyed. Haetia did this every time someone pointed out Linias’s presence (as known as it was in the town), so at this point he was used to it. This was nothing compared to some of the other times Haetia sought to impress his friends.

“Hah! He actually did it! Pant why don’t you?” The young man, thoroughly amused, tried his hand at an order as well, but Linias didn’t budge. “Aw, what the fuck is wrong with you?! I said pant!”

“He only listens to me dumbass. Come on, before he ruins my mood.”

Tugging the young man by his shirt, Haetia pulls him into the bedroom and slams the door not before glaring at Linias one last time. Once the door shuts, Linias stands back up, dusting off his shins and leaning against the wall.

It wouldn’t take very long for Haetia to toss them out, he knew that for certain since it happened every time without fail. Linias knew more than anyone else how hard the Young Master was to please, especially in bed.

In the meantime, Linias occupied himself with playing with his vines. As much as he was taught not to have connections of any sorts, he still kept his secret friendship with nature. It was the only thing that he let see his real and genuine emotions (although he never noticed it himself), not whatever acting Dharax or Mitsuyo taught him.

Just as he expected, Haetia was soon enough shouting his name and barking orders, “LINIAS!”

Almost breaking a sigh, Linias bid farewell to his vines and retracted them before entering the bedroom.

On the ground was the previous young man holding his cheek in pain, probably from a slap.

“Get him out of my sight and teach him a lesson! The nerve you have to tear the condom like that– I’m not your fucking girl!”

“W-Wait I-I’m sorry I just–!”

Before he could finish his sentence, Linias already seized the man by his hair and drug him away.

“And be quick about it! I want to shower!” Haetia barked another order before Linias closed the door.

The man kicked and pleaded in Linias’s hand but he gripped him all the same, just like the others. He hauled him all the way outside of the estate and then met his fist with his face before the man could get another plea out. Same as always.

Haetia was a special kind of person, that much was obvious. One of the reasons other than his blatantly unique appearance was the fact that despite being a man, he could carry children. No one ever explained the why to Linias – like everything else – so he believed it to be just the way he was born just like the rest of his unusual appearance, similarly to how some plants had both male and female genitalia.

So, this happened quite frequently: Haetia would bring someone home, they try to self-proclaim themselves as a father, he gets upset and orders Linias to beat them to knock some sense into them. It wasn’t just because Haetia didn’t want to bear a child either. For whatever the reason, it was a known law of Gwyneira that no one could father Haetia’s children.

Well, not exactly no one. According to Dharax and Emmett, Linias was the only one allowed to do so if and only if directed to by Haetia himself, and that exception was only known by the aforementioned pair, the elderly of the village, and Linias himself. He wasn’t all too sure of the reason himself but he wasn’t sure about a lot of things.

The main reason Dharax had him taught by Mitsuyo was that: in the event that Haetia needs Linias for his desires. In all honesty, Linias didn’t ever see that happening with how much his Master loathes him and his very existence but if it did ever happen he was at least prepared.

Linias wiped the blood off his knuckles and onto his turtleneck as he watched the young man twitch beneath him with useless bruised arms that failed to shield his face. With a long inhale and short exhale, he turned back inside.

Upon opening the bedroom door he was yelled at once more, “What took you so long! Seven minutes!? Do it in five next time, I hate sitting here with all this grime!”

“Yes, Sire.” The retainer solemnly replied before carrying his nude Master to the bathroom. With how many years he’d been clothing and bathing Haetia, he was more than used to seeing his naked body.

He set him down by the tub then turned on the faucet just between warm and cold–Haetia couldn’t stand anything above that temperature, whatever it may be. Then, he took a washcloth and dipped it in the water. Linias wrung every drop and brought it to Haetia’s genitalia, swabbing away what miniscule amount of sperm there was.

“Have they no respect?! Why does everyone think they can just carelessly come inside of me like some street whore! Ugh!” Haetia swatted Linias’s hands away, indicating he wanted to get in the bath or rather was waiting for Linias to do it for him.

So, the bodyguard obeyed and lowered his Master into the bath, then continued scrubbing him down. Not too hard, not too soft. His skin was as sensitive as he was so Linias needed to be perfect.

“He wasn’t even that good either, just like the rest of them! All talk, no action. Pea sized the lot of them!”

The ivory being before him could almost be mistaken for a woman, now that his hair reached to his ankles. Under the water his frame shone like a pearl in a crystal clear sea. Even Linias admitted that Haetia was beautiful beyond words in comparison to other men and women alike. Obviously he himself harbored no attraction nor affection for his Lord, it’d get in the way of his duty after all. But still, he was bewitching nonetheless. Graceful and elegant in appearance but not the slightest in mannerisms.

Linias lathered his pearlescent hair then poured water over it, washing away all the foam. He was sure that it didn’t really need to be maintained so thoroughly but it’s what Haetia wanted.

“Linias, give me my medication, I just want to get it over with.”

“Yes, Master.” He rummaged through the medicine cabinet and retrieved a small bottle of liquid.

Normal forms of post-contraceptives didn’t work for Haetia, so Linias had to make it himself based on his father’s directions: you mix ginseng, belladonna, and a drop of Haetia’s own blood. Like usual, Haetia had no clue what was in it and had no desire to know, nor did Linias know why that strange concoction worked, let alone why Haetia was immune to the poisonous effects of belladonna, but if it worked it worked.

Haetia snatched the bottle right from Linias’s hand and took a quick swig before shoving it back in his grasp and retching. “Blech. I wouldn’t have to take that disgusting shit in the first place if it wasn’t for all of these man-sluts. Get me out of this bath.”

Linias put the medicine away then lifted his Master out of the tub, drying him off in the process. Afterwards he carried him into the bedroom and set him by the couch, gliding his nightwear on piece by piece.

“I’m sure outside of this cramped little town there’s so much more to see. Not the sights, like plants or whatever. I don’t care about that. But the people? The city life? I’m sure that’s soooo much nicer than here. What the hell did Dad say again?”

“You’ll know when we’re to leave.” Linias recalled for him as he concluded dressing his Lord.

“That. That cryptic shit, ugh. I hate him too.” Again Haetia swatted him away, “Let me sleep, I’m quite frankly tired of all of you and especially you. The day you die I’ll be dancing over your body, I can’t stand you. I have to protect you,” he mocks, “Fuck off creep.”

The Young Master groans and flops onto the needlessly large bed, throwing the covers over with another groan.

“Goodnight, Sire.” Linias bowed.

“Shut up and sit there in silence like you’re supposed to.”

As directed, Linias seated himself onto the couch in such a way that the entire room was in view. There would be a day that they left this all behind: the village, this house, even Dharax and Haetia’s father. They made sure to remind the pair of that constantly. It would happen, whether that be tomorrow, next month, or years from now.

One day, Haetia and Linias would make their way to the Ivory Shore, wherever it was and for whatever the reason, neither of them knew. That was something they were told they’d learn as it came, and while Haetia was excited for the prospect, Linias was cautious because he knew that in reality, it would mark the start to the ultimate test of all that he was taught since he met the pale prince.

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