breakfastofchampions: (nelius)
[personal profile] breakfastofchampions
Title: Dangerous Pet
Universe: Wind & Foxes
Characters, pairings: Vithje
Rating: PG13
Warnings: None
Word count: 1,073
Summary: Vithje got a RAW DEAL.
Notes: Written for [community profile] origfic_bingo, for the prompt "nervous breakdown". Set in the days of the Kelisav Empire, which is "olden times" from the perspective of the main characters of W&F. Also, that summary up there is the best one I have ever written.

His days are empty now. His days are a long, endless silence. He is not called for. He is not wanted. He stays in his room. Where else should he go? Where does a sorcerer go when his emperor does not want him?

He does not have to emerge from his quarters unless Amer wants him, because he can go wherever he likes without physically leaving the room. He can see anywhere in the palace, in the city, and many places beyond. He can hear people talking, unless they make some sorcerous effort to hide their words.

Vithje knows what the court has to say about him. The emperor's pet is going mad.

Once, an emperor's personal sorcerer was almost his equal. Once, the two were partners of a sort, but that was generations ago. The dynamics of power have changed since those times, and the bonds restraining an emperor's sorcerer have grown thicker and heavier with each new emperor, each new sorcerer. Until now: Amer and his sorcerer Vithje, the pet. It is not Amer's fault. Amer was a child when they were bound. Amer didn't know what was happening to them. Amer still knows very little, in Vithje's not entirely kind opinion--or else, he knows but hardly understands.

Some days, more and more often now, Vithje wishes he had not been born with his gift. It made him this thing not quite human anymore, bound to a master who has forgotten him. It is a curse, these days, to be a sorcerer of both low birth and great power. Vithje would imagine what it might have been like to be raised by his parents, to earn his living as they did, but he had been taken away from his parents soon after his birth. It is considered a risk for him to know who they were. It might compromise his loyalty.

A true human could live and love as he wanted. A human could know the name of his family, at least. A human would have some meaning in his life beyond Serve the emperor, always, which is the command that has been written into his mind, burned into his body, made his greatest law.

"I'm a pet," says Vithje, tasting the words, the concept, as he looks out the window. If he says the words without rancor, they are not forced from his throat. From his high palace room, he can see the garden, warmly starred with flowers and lively with birds, and the spires of the city rising beyond.

"A pet," he says again.

They say that the emperor has broken Vithje's heart, and that is why he is going mad. Is that true? Is his heart broken? Is he going mad? Vithje does not think he is experiencing any emotions as strong as that. He does not feel mad. Maybe he would be angry with Amer, but the possibility of that emotion was stripped from him when he was a child, before he could even speak.

No one comes to visit him, except the women they send to him. He is like a pet in that, too, bred for his good qualities. It's not that he doesn't enjoy the pleasure of sex, the kisses and caresses and companionship of the women, but he would prefer to be able to choose for himself, to like someone, to fall in love.

How could he fall in love? Amer's name is all he knows, because he is Amer's pet.

He wishes he could see his children someday, but they, too, would compromise his loyalties. The other sorcerers will hide them from him. He wonders what his sons and daughters will be called. Would they grow to love him, if they were allowed to know him? If he were a prophet, he would look into the future to see their faces. That would be enough, to see the faces of his children, smiling, to know that they would be happy, and not treated as he has--(that disloyal thought is forced to flicker out before he's able to complete it).

Vithje finds himself on his hands and knees. He does not remember lowering himself to the floor. There are few things he is allowed to do, on his own. Law and sorcery have bound him more tightly than ropes, but he has his senses. He cannot act as he likes, but he can feel. He feels the smooth, cool stone of the floor beneath his hands. He pushes his awareness out into the stone, a little, so he can feel the stone from the inside.

On the table across the room, Thorn begins to hum, a low noise that only his ear can hear. Thorn is the one thing that belongs to him, the singer that amplifies his power. Made by him, it can be used by no one else, a sharp and narrow instrument that raises its voice to offer its assistance whenever he uses his gift. He doesn't need Thorn now. He doesn't wish to do anything too complicated. Little things are all he can do without his emperor.

Slowly, Vithje, without moving from where he kneels, sinks down through the floor, and farther, deeper, until he finds himself--his consciousness--in the earth. He is alone there. Why would anyone else be there? There is no use in the earth. There is power there, but it is not practical. Nothing that binds Vithje has anything to do with the earth. Nothing keeps him away from it or says what he can do there. If it does not affect the world above, it does not matter.

Maybe Vithje has gone mad, without realizing it, because suddenly, inexplicably, he does something he has never done before. He takes a piece of his spirit--so small it hardly matters, so why would he bother?--and he binds it to the earth. Then he does it again. Again again again. Haltingly at first, then more quickly, he breaks his spirit down and blends tiny scraps of it into the earth. There, where no one can see him, he does the only thing he can do: something meaningless that ties him down. Why would he give himself more bonds? Perhaps because bonds are all he knows, so even when he has the freedom to act for himself, he does nothing but bind himself further.

Because he is a pet.
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