Eli’s plans are set in motion. His first target: Lord Brever, Count of Althay. Meanwhile, Eli’s and Alric’s transformations continue unabated. This time, the plug stolen from the dragon’s lair appears to have undergone some changes of its own.
Eli liked to think he was a good actor.
It certainly took some skill to sit across Lord Brever, Count of Althay, while pretending to look interested. Eli wasn’t sure how long it had been since the noble started talking about his Althay, a small province of no particular note to the northwest of the capital.
Eli gratefully accepted a cup of steaming tea from Alric, whom he’d borrowed from the palace staff for today’s meeting. It was a very strong and smarting tea, which Eli was glad for. It helped him stay awake, though he had to wrinkle his nose at the aggressive aroma.
Lord Brever seemed inordinately proud of his little province. He called its recent prosperity a "labor of utmost love and sincere devotion," thrice in as many minutes. He boasted of Althay’s cultural significance and its rich soils, fool that he was.
Even Eli, who’d only read about Althay in passing while preparing for this meeting, knew that the province’s recent good fortunes were owed to the mines that had recently been found. Lord Brever struck Eli as someone whose head was firmly stuck in the past and up his ass.
That said, it was rather peculiar that despite the apparent incompetence of Lord Brever, the province of Althay was running smoothly. It told Eli that the man seated across from him was little more than a figurehead.
Someone else was running the show in Althay. Lord Brever was little more than a figurehead and too stupid to realize it.
"I believe commendations are in order, Lord Brever," said Eli. "I am certain the kingdom well appreciates the contributions of Althay."
Lord Brever chuckled heartily and puffed out his chest. "Of course! Her Majesty, the queen, is a good friend!"
"Is that so?" said Eli.
A wide grin split Lord Brever’s face. "Her majesty is godmother to my eldest, and she often calls me to the palace to seek my counsel on very important matters of the state."
Eli nodded and smiled. Some people volunteered their secrets without the need for prompting. It seemed that Lord Brever was one such person, which made Eli doubt that the matters the queen discussed with him were not of any particular importance at all.
"Surely, Sir Blackblade recalls the festivities that followed his return of the Stars to our kingdom?" said Lord Brever.
Eli fought the urge to roll his eyes as the nobleman looked at him expectantly. He nodded. "Of course," he said, with a gracious smile.
Lord Brever took a deep breath. It almost seemed as if he knew he was going to go on a long, meandering ramble. "Ah, perfect! Well, this simply must stay within these walls, Sir Blackblade. I am afraid that the other nobles might cause some trouble for her majesty if they realize that she favors me over them.
"If you truly wish to discover the nature of the deep and meaningful relationship between the queen and me, Sir Blackblade, you need only know this: prior to the beginning of the celebration, the queen herself consulted me as to how we might welcome the Northmen delegation to the capital.
"Naturally, this was a matter of grave importance to the security of our nation. The Northmen have ever been steadfast allies of the kingdom. Their loyalty, bravery, and ferocity ensured that when Ishanda invaded, we could repel the enemy forces with great ease.
"In truth, I have some Northman blood in me, as well. Not much, mind you, Sir Blackblade. Nevertheless, I like to think that my Northman ancestors would be glad to see that I continue to uphold their steadfast, loyal, and brave legacy."
Eli only half-listened as the count rambled on. He glanced over to where Alric was standing to the side.
The young footman was the picture of professionalism—for all of three seconds. While Lord Brever was busy telling the story of how his great grandfather’s great grandfather met a Northman girl and fell in love, Alric made a mock-gagging expression.
Eli had to stifle a laugh. He turned back to Lord Brever before the old fool could notice that he’d stopped paying attention. "Pardon me, Lord Brever. I should not wish to interrupt such a riveting story of courage, heroism, and romance, but a thought has just occurred to me. You mentioned that her majesty often calls you to the capital to seek your advice, did you not?"
"Yes," said Lord Brever.
Eli deprived the count of the opportunity to extend what should have been a simple answer into yet another rambling anecdote. "Pray, forgive my ignorance, my lord, but it would seem to me, uneducated as I am in matters of governance and without wishing to cast aspersions on what is no doubt a profound bond between you and her majesty, that Althay would be suffering in your absence."
Lord Brever smiled. "There is nothing to forgive, Sir Blackblade. It is only natural to think that a territory would suffer and flounder in the absence of her lord. And indeed, such would be the case were I not wise enough to ensure that she would be well-taken-care-of while I am away.
"All that I know about running a province, I have imparted to my eldest son. He takes good care of Althay, though if I am being honest, Sir Blackblade, he is still rather inexperienced."
In all likelihood, the real power behind Althay was Lord Brever’s eldest son. "Pray, forgive me once again for my impertinence, Lord Brever, but does your eldest have good relations with his godmother?"
"Of course," said Lord Brever. "Her majesty has often confided in me that she sees Lukas as a son. They often share correspondence, which warms my heart. I think, in future, she might wed one of her daughters to him. I believe he would make a fine king consort, some years from now."
Lord Brever winked at Eli. "Hopefully, long after her majesty and I have shuffled off the mortal coil," he said, laughing boisterously at what Eli supposed passed for a joke to the old fool.
Eli barked a fake laugh. "With an upstanding man for a father such as yourself, Lord Brever, I do not doubt that your son will one day accomplish great things," he said.
Lord Brever nodded sagely. "All his life a man works toward building a strong and proud legacy yet, in the end, he can only hope that his sons will build upon it greater things still," he said.
After a moment, Lord Brever’s expression changed. He looked forlorn. "Alas, I am afraid that my son Lukas is too green still. I have done my best to teach him well but such is the hard-headedness of youth."
Eli had suspected that there were some tensions in the count’s household. Granted, the old man was grating enough that Eli was sure such a thing was an inevitability. All the same, he was glad for the confirmation.
"What has he done to make you believe so, my lord?" said Eli, prying for details he could use to his advantage.
Lord Brever sighed. "The lad does a fine job of managing Althay while I am away but does nothing to improve it. Each time I give him the opportunity, he squanders it.
"The boy is too obsessed with these ‘mines’ that they’ve found in our lands. I have told him, time and again, that putting our hopes on mines is the height of stupidity.
"There have been mines in Althay before and they have always run dry but our fields have never failed us. If only he would expend half as much effort on our farmers as he does our miners, no doubt he would surpass me.
"And yet, he refuses to listen. I have pled with her majesty to help my son see the light but he is stubborn!"
Eli glanced at Alric. He had to suppress a smile as the footman rolled his eyes.
"Lord Brever, I am certain that age and experience will teach your son the lessons that he needs. Do you remember what it was like to be a young man? There is a certain foolhardiness that accompanies youth, and that is not like to change for as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west," said Eli.
What Eli was about to say was dangerous. He had no idea how the count would react but he had to meet the young Lord Brever so the risk was acceptable. "Perhaps your son has simply had enough of older people telling him what to do and how to do it," he said. "Though I am no spring chicken any longer myself, perhaps the smaller gap in our ages will render him more amenable to my advice."
Lord Brever’s face lit up. "You would do this for me, Sir Blackblade?" he said. "I have tried all that I can to teach my son that for generations, we of House Brever have always tended to the land and that the prosperity of Althay is owed to our rich cultural history and abundant fields. Always have I failed but perhaps you are right. Perhaps the words of a younger man such as yourself would finally open his eyes."
Eli waved his hand in front of his face. He tried his best to look bashful. "It is no great matter, Lord Brever," he said. "I shall take great pleasure in helping a lost young man back onto the right path."
"It is a great matter, Sir Blackblade," said Lord Brever, a fiery determination in his eyes. He leaned forward across the table and, in a lower voice, said, "I am not getting any younger as the years pass by. I know that I do not have many sunrises left to see.
"Long have I anguished over my dear Lukas’ refusal to see reason. If you were to convince him… Nay. Even were you simply to try. I would be able to sleep easier at night, and I would owe you a debt of gratitude."
Eli was almost moved, but he didn’t much care for gratitude. It was a different story, of course, if said gratitude came with a little bit of coin.
"I should be more than happy to do this for you, Lord Brever," said Eli. "I cannot guarantee it will work, but I swear before the gods that I shall do my best to give your son advice that will see to the continued prosperity of your Althay."
Lord Brever reached across the table and grasped Eli’s hand. Eli had to resist the urge to snatch it back. "I cannot thank you enough, Sir Blackblade," he said.
Just as quickly as he’d clasped Eli’s hand, Lord Brever pulled away. He reached for a leather pouch at his waist, hesitated, and removed it from where it was looped around his belt.
The pouch clinked with coins as Lord Brever pressed it into Eli’s hands. "Take this, Sir Blackblade," he said. "I wish I had more to give but this is all that I have on my person."
Eli pretended to be surprised. "My Lord, this is simply too generous," he said. "I simply cannot—"
"I insist," said Lord Brever. "This is but a paltry sum, Sir Blackblade. If you can succeed, if you can secure the future of my Althay, then all the coin in my treasury would be insufficient to repay you."
Eli scratched his cheek. "If my lord insists," he said, as he set the pouch on his lap. "I appreciate your generosity."
Lord Brever smiled at Eli. He got up and said, "If Sir Blackblade does not mind, I shall take my leave now."
"Lord Brever. I insist you stay a while longer," said Eli. "I have so enjoyed our conversation."
Lord Brever simply shook his head. "I am afraid I must decline, Sir Blackblade," he said. "But I must make haste for Althay so that I might arrange for my dear Lukas to come and pay you a visit."
Eli nodded. If Lord Brever was so keen to leave, he wasn’t going to stop him. "Then, in that case, I wish you safe travels and good health, Lord Brever. We should have tea again in future—when the opportunity presents itself."
"That we should, Sir Blackblade," said Lord Brever, accepting his coat from Alric without paying the footman so much as a second glance. "That we should."
As soon Alric returned from seeing Lord Brever out, Eli deflated and let out a sigh of relief. Dealing with the doddering old fool had been an ordeal.
"I know not where Lord Brever gets the impression that he and her majesty are the closest of friends," said Alric, gently closing the door behind him. Eli quietly watched him as he went around, tidying up.
Eli chuckled. "Her majesty is a cunning woman. I cannot see her willingly indulging the overtures of a fat old idiot like Lord Brever," he said.
Alric shrugged as he put away the tea set. "I had heard that Lord Brever was a great warrior."
"Once, perhaps," said Eli, shuffling along to give Alric space on the couch as he slipped behind him and scooped him up into his arms. "One wouldn’t think it, to look at him."
Alric laughed, quietly. "The years have been very unkind to him, it seems."
Eli nodded. "Indeed. To think that they’ve dulled his wits so, rendering him stupid enough to believe that welcoming a foreign delegation was a matter of great import to the security of the kingdom."
"To be fair," Alric countered, "it could be."
"I might not be too familiar, pet, but even I know that the Northmen are a more practical people," said Eli.
Alric nodded. "If the stories are to be believed," he said.
"I know the type," said Eli. "Some gold and, perhaps, warm furs would have satisfied them. They did not need half the gifts they were lavished with."
Eli pinched the bridge of his nose. "I had wondered why they were showered with such luxuries. To think that it had all been at the behest of Lord Brever… It is almost too good."
Glancing over his shoulder at Alric, Eli continued. "I have my suspicions, but do tell me, do you think her majesty had any hand in funding the gifts?"
Alric thought on the question for a moment. His eyes met Eli’s as he shook his head. "Her majesty is shrewd. You said so yourself, my lord. I do not think she would brook something so needlessly ostentatious being done on her own dime."
"I thought so, as well," said Eli. "I imagine she convinced Lord Brever that it would bring great honor to his house to fund the entire thing."
Alric laughed. "The count seemed so proud of his threadbare Northman heritage that I imagine he thought doing such a thing would improve relations between them and Althay.
"Although, I imagine that whatever goodwill Lord Brever might have curried with the Northman delegation would have evaporated the moment he opened his mouth.
"With every inane anecdote, I became more and more convinced that either his wife fabricated her death and fled, or he quite literally talked her to death."
Eli chuckled and allowed his head to rest against Alric’s shoulder. He sighed. He enjoyed the warmth. The feeling of safety and security that he felt in Alric’s arms was something of an addiction. If it were practical, he would have never left.
"I think it is a credit to the young Lukas Brever that Althay has not been taken for all it has by other, more ambitious Houses," said Eli. "It must be rather difficult having a father who practically leads himself down the garden path."
The two settled into a comfortable silence for a few minutes. They were content to bask in each other’s company. For a short while, at least.
"What did you think of the situation in Althay?" said Eli, breaking the silence.
Alric hummed and pressed his lips to the base of Eli’s neck. "I must confess, my lord, I had my doubts," he said.
"Oh?" said Eli. "Pray, tell," he murmured, rubbing his thumb on the back of Alric’s hand at his middle.
Alric laughed, nervously. "Well, you said that we would take the nobles for all we could and that we would start with the weakest Houses, my lord. I did not anticipate that you would pick House Brever as our first target."
Eli said nothing and waited for Alric to continue.
"I must profess, my lord, I do not much pay attention to the politics of the kingdom," said Alric, having the grace to sound bashful. "It is difficult not to pick up pieces of information here and there from household gossip, however."
Eli nodded. "Naturally," he said. "Some of the best informants I have had in my career have been members of household staff. Those who keep their ear close to the ground are very skilled at collecting interesting little facts."
Alric smiled against the small patch of scales at the base of Eli’s neck. "In any case, my lord, I had heard that despite being one of the smallest provinces, and historically one of the poorest, Althay had experienced something of a renaissance in the last ten or so years.
"I had not considered that the province’s sudden reversal of fortune could be attributed to a fundamental change in its leadership. I had thought that it was owed primarily to the mines."
Eli nodded. "I will admit," he said, slowly, "I did not know for certain whether House Brever would make a good target—though I did have my suspicions."
"Hmm… I’m curious, sir. What exactly, made you suspicious?" said Alric.
Eli laughed. "I learned a fair bit about the mining industry during a string of thefts from some rather well-known mines. However rich the ore a mine produces might be, unless the property is well-managed, it will be practically worthless."
"Ah!" said Alric. "I see. So, you thought the mines were, alone, insufficient to explain Althay’s dramatic reversal of fortune?"
"Just so," said Eli. "The fact that Althay had languished in mediocrity before then also told me that Lord Brever, in one way or another, an incompetent buffoon.
"Buried in the deluge of inanity that the count spewed during our conversation was one fact that can hardly be disputed: despite being one of the smallest provinces in the kingdom, Althay’s fields are remarkably productive.
"Upon learning this, one necessarily must ask the question of why this agricultural advantage wasn’t leveraged into increasing the province’s revenue. The answer is inescapable: the industry was mismanaged, and rather badly at that.
"Either Lord Brever hired someone to govern the province in his stead, who did not know the first thing about what he was doing, or Lord Brever himself hadn’t the faintest clue about how to run a successful territory.
"Doubtless, anyone with half a brain should be able to tell that the latter is the case after even a brief conversation with the count."
Eli was rather proud that things had played out pretty much exactly as he’d anticipated. He’d always had a sharp with but even so he’d sometimes struggled with drawing correct conclusions from disparate pieces of information.
It was as if there had been mental changes to go hand-in-hand with the physical transformation of Eli’s body. He couldn’t deny that he felt clearer, these days, as if his intellect were more honed and capable of seeing connections that he would have otherwise missed.
It was an exhilarating feeling. Eli felt like he had the world at his fingertips and could scarcely wait to see what else would improve about him.
Eli felt that he was being refined, little by little. It was as if he’d started out standing at the base of a tall staircase with a perfected version of himself standing at the top, and every small change took him one step closer to the pinnacle.
If the trend held, Eli did not doubt that Alric would soon follow in his footsteps. Though they lacked the money, now, they would have it soon enough.
Between the two of them, they could probably take over the kingdom—Nay, the continent.
"Do you think that, perhaps, her majesty is inviting Count Brever to the palace as a favor to Lukas?" said Alric, shaking Eli from his thoughts.
"Full certain of it, in fact," said Eli. "It is in the kingdom’s best interests if all of its provinces prosper. Doubtless, Lord Brever’s idiocy is keeping Althay from reaching its full potential."
"And while he’s away, Lukas can take the necessary steps to preserve the future of Althay," said Alric, with a strange sort of wonder in his voice.
"Most like," said Eli. "Unfortunately, Lord Brever is too myopic to see that most—if not all—of Althay’s prosperity is owed to his son. He refuses to believe that traditional methods from centuries ago are ill-suited to the modern world and thus sees his son’s progressive policies as an act of open rebellion.
"Althay is caught in the crossfire between father and son right now and it will remain so until Lord Brever dies and Lukas can take over. The young Lord Brever is probably just biding his time waiting for the older to pass."
"Huh," said Alric. Eli could practically hear the gears in his head turning. "But do you really think Lukas can afford to wait? Granted, I think Lord Brever will most likely die in the next few years. Even so, I do not think the other noble houses will simply stand idly by."
"You would be right," said Eli. "Lord Brever’s most recent stunt has likely put young Lukas in a tough spot.
"To lavish the Northmen with such luxurious goods, Lord Brever no doubt had to spend a substantial portion of Althay’s money. In doing so, he has weakened the position of House Brever in a significant way.
"Not only that, but Lord Brever has signaled to the opposition that, at the moment, Althay is essentially a fort with an open gate. It seems to me that Lukas’ first proper introduction to the great game of Houses is going to be through a baptism of fire."
Alric chuckled darkly. "I think I can see where you are going with this, my lord. Correct me if I am wrong, but does this not mean that the young Lord Lukas will be feeling even more pressure to resolve the matter of succession as soon as possible?"
"That would be right," said Eli, with a devilish grin. "For as long as Lord Brever is in charge, the mines that hold the future of Althay will be vulnerable to outside attack. I would like to say that I have confidence even Lord Brever wouldn’t be stupid enough to sell the rights to the mines to another lord for a pittance, but I have met him."
"True enough," said Alric, with a laugh.
"Not to mention, I intend to put the idea in his head," said Eli.
There was a pregnant pause as Alric tried to digest what Eli had just said. "Wait. What?" he said, sounding utterly baffled.
Eli bared his teeth in a savage grin. He could practically already feel all the coins falling into the palms of his hands and adding to his growing hoard. "Since Lukas is clearly obsessed with the mines, from Lord Brever’s perspective, it should not be too difficult to convince him that by selling them off, he would be helping his eldest son’s ‘delusions.’"
Alric made a sound of consternation. "But how does that help us?" he said.
"It forces Lukas into a more desperate situation," said Eli. "And the more desperate a man, the more willing he is to part with his money."
Alric gently laid Eli on the bed. He clambered atop him and leaned down to kiss him.
Eli chuckled as Alric’s weight pressed down on him. He could feel the young footman’s hardness pressing against his thigh. His own cock strained in his under breeches.
One would think that having to sit through an audience with Lord Brever would kill any amorous moods. It seemed as though it had the opposite effect, though. Eli felt as if he’d survived a harrowing experience, and felt an almost desperate urge to celebrate.
"Had enough of our serious talk?" said Eli, with a chuckle, as Alric pulled away to break the kiss.
"Not at all, my lord," said Alric. He leaned down and pressed his lips to Eli’s collarbone, nipping gently at the sensitive skin just above it.
"I find it incredibly arousing, how cunning you are," Alric whispered, almost breathlessly. He humped his hips into Eli’s, rubbing their cocks together through the fabric of their breeches.
"And I can scarce contain myself when you show me why it is that you are considered a master thief—the only one to have ever stolen from a Dragon Sovereign and lived," Alric murmured.
Eli bit back a groan as Alric slid his hands under his tunic and pushed it up. Alric’s hot breath ghosted across his chest, making him tingle.
The loose summer tunic suddenly felt a hundred times more restrictive than chains. Eli moaned as the fingers of one of Alric’s hands splayed over his stomach, right above molten heat pooling in his belly. He raised his arms over his head to let Alric pull the shirt off with his other hand.
"I freely admit, my lord, it took all of my willpower not to put an end to your suffering and ravish you in front of that fat, old, fool," Alric growled, rubbing his cheek against the side of Eli’s face.
"Would that you had," Eli breathed, turning his head so that Alric could do to the other side of his face. It was the effect of some, more recent, changes.
Eli had been the first to notice it, a few days ago. His sense of smell had sharpened significantly. Alric returned, smelling faintly of blood, and he’d gotten worried.
It was fortunate that it was nothing more than Alric helping out in the kitchen because one of the kitchen hands had gotten ill. Eli might have torn the castle apart, brick by brick, if it had been anything more serious.
Two days later, Alric reported that the same thing had happened to him. He’d realized when he absentmindedly pointed out that one of his fellow footmen smelled like one of his other colleagues and received strange gazes.
"Lord Brever’s unpleasantness lingers on you, my lord," Alric growled, continuing to rub his face against Eli.
"Then I suppose you ought make sure you drown it out," said Eli, tugging at the bottom hem of Alric’s shirt. The more skin-to-skin contact they had, the more the young footman’s scent would rub off on him.
Alric straightened for a moment to peel his tunic off. Fortunately, he’d elected to remove his coat before taking Eli to bed. This way, he didn’t have to worry about damaging anything. Tunics were cheap. Livery coats were not.
As soon as Alric had tossed the tunic off the side of the bed, Eli reached up and pulled him down. One hand around the back of the young footman’s neck while the other caressed the side of his face, Eli whispered, "You are lucky you smell of tea, rather than a senile lord."
"I shall rectify that shortcoming soon enough, my lord," said Alric, the corner of his mouth tugging upward into a small smirk as he leaned down and pressed his naked upper body against Eli’s. "I should like to smell of handsome and cunning master thief, instead."
Eli chuckled. The heat in his stomach was spreading slowly throughout his body. His ass itched, feeling empty despite the plug inside of him. "You had better make it quick, pet," said Eli, in a low and suggestive tone, "I grow impatient."
"You need not worry, my lord…" said Alric, trailing off as one hand slipped down the front of Eli’s pants to grab at his cock and squeeze it.
Eli bit back a moan.
"I shall be very thorough. I shall mark you with my scent outside and in," Alric murmured, before capturing Eli’s lips in his, once again.
As they kissed, Alric hooked his fingers into Eli’s breeches and under breeches, tugging them down to Eli’s knees in a single motion. Unlike what Eli had worn to the handing-over of the Stars, these breeches were not quite so tight. Between that and Alric’s newfound strength, they were removed with remarkable ease.
While Alric pulled the pants off of Eli one leg at a time, Eli twisted around in bed so that he was lying on his stomach. He spread his legs and arched his back, easing his ass cheeks apart to expose the rose diamond at the base of the plug firmly seated inside of him.
Alric’s hands alighted on Eli’s ass with a pair of gentle smacks, making the supple globes ripple at the impact. Eli groaned, pushing his ass into the young footman’s touch as Alric pried his cheeks further apart.
"I do not pay you to be a terrible tease, pet," Eli huffed, as Alric rubbed at the base of his plug.
Alric chuckled. "On the contrary, my lord, you do not pay me at all," he murmured.
Eli shivered as he felt Alric’s hot breath on his ass. Another patch of scales had appeared, right at the base of his spine, a small triangle that dipped ever so slightly into the cleft of his ass.
A low, desperate moan interrupted whatever clever quip Eli would have said in response. The pleasure he felt as Alric’s teeth grazed the very edge of the patch was nigh-orgasmic and it took all of his willpower not to come then and there.
"If anything, Sir Blackblade," Alric murmured, as he slipped two fingers behind the flared base of the plug, "I pay you to allow me to be a terrible tease."
For a moment, Eli wondered whether he truly did prefer confident, assertive Alric over the meek, uncertain Alric he’d first met. It was an open question, but as he felt Alric tug at his plug he was pretty sure that the answer was yes. Gods, yes.
"Fuck, Alric," Eli moaned. Taking the plug out and putting it back in had become such a routine over the last few weeks that he scarcely noticed it anymore.
Not so, on this occasion. The pressure was intense in a way that it had not been, before. Each time Alric tugged at the base, Eli’s insides tingled, almost as if something was gently scraping against his inner walls.
"W-What are you doing?" Eli gasped, straining as Alric pulled with increasing urgency.
"Nothing, my lord," said Alric, though he sounded about just as puzzled as Eli did. "Pardon me, but have you gotten tighter?"
Eli couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the question. "How do you think I should know?" he said.
Alric chuckled, easing up on the plug for a moment. "Well, I was merely wondering if you’d noticed any recent changes in the area," he said.
When Alric put it that way, Eli supposed the question had its merits. The two of them had been experiencing some rather dramatic bodily changes. It wasn’t out of the question that something might have changed, back there. "Not that I was aware of," said Eli.
"Huh. Strange. I just don’t recall it ever being this difficult to pull out, my lord," said Alric.
Eli groaned as Alric tugged again. His hole burned as it stretched around the round base of the plug. "T-trust me, pet, I-I know firsthand w-what you mean."
"Almost there, my lord," Alric cooed, gently pressing down on one of Eli’s ass cheeks for leverage as he worked to pull the plug free of Eli’s hole. "Just a little more…"
Eli whined, fingers tangling in the sheets as the plug stretched him out. It wasn’t particularly painful as, after all, Alric’s cock was still bigger than it, but Eli didn’t make a habit of taking Alric’s cock dry.
With one last groan, Eli was able to push the widest part of the plug out. The rest of it followed with ease, though his eyes shot open as he felt strange ridges that hadn’t been there before rub against his hole on the way out.
"Um…" said Alric.
Panting, Eli turned his head to the side so that his cheek was resting against the mattress. "What is it?" he said.
"I think you should see for yourself, my lord," said Alric, sounding amazed, concerned, and alarmed, all at the same time.
Eli did not know how he was supposed to feel, given all that had just transpired. "Wow," however, was the first word out of his mouth as Alric gently laid the plug where Eli could see it.
The small metal bulb had swelled. At its widest, it was probably half as large as Alric’s cock. The sudden growth of the plug wasn’t the most astonishing thing. Where there had once been faint etchings that seemed to resemble a scale pattern on the metal, there were now what appeared to be genuine scales.
The scales were relatively tight to the profile of the bulb, sticking out only a small amount from the metal surface. They seemed to be made of the same metal and, fortunately, their edges seemed to be relatively smooth.
Eli supposed the scales explained the ridges he’d felt as the plug was on its way out. "That’s… I did not expect that," he said.
"Nor I, to be honest, my lord," said Alric.
Unable to help his curiosity, Eli reached out to touch the plug. It was hotter than he expected it would be and certainly hotter than he thought his insides were. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t noticed it, though, then again, there had been a strange but subtle heat in his belly since the last time Alric slipped it in him.
The scale that Eli touched disappeared back into the metal of the bulb, to his surprise. He had not even pressed down. As he touched another scale he discovered that even the slightest pressure could push the scales back into the bulb.
Planting one elbow into the mattress, Eli pushed himself a tad off the bed. He reached for the plug and ran his fingers over it, pushing all the scales back into what was, ostensibly, their original position.
When Eli was done, the plug was smooth all over once more. Moreover, it was still bigger than he recalled it being. He’d thought the unfolded scales were the primary contributor to the change in size, but no, the bulb itself had grown.
"That… That’s rather strange, my lord," said Alric.
"Y-Yeah," said Eli, examining the plug closely. "I suppose it is only to be expected for a treasure that came directly from the hoard of a Dragon Sovereign," he murmured.
Eli tried to get the plug to open again, but couldn’t manage to. The scales remained firmly shut, and the bulb remained stubbornly smooth.
One thing Eli didn’t understand was why he’d felt the scales on the way out. Surely, if he could press them down with such ease using his finger, they would have all been flattened by the tight ring of his asshole on the way out.
Eli suspected that the plug might have been enchanted to only revert once pulled out, but couldn’t be certain. The prudent thing to do would have been to stop using it until such time that he was sure about what it did, but he dismissed the idea offhand.
Whatever else the plug was capable of, if it was meant to harm him, Eli was sure it would have done so, already. Alric’s cum was far more important to keep inside him than whatever concerns he might have had about the nature of the plug.
If anything, Eli was just glad that he wouldn’t have to deal with the scales on the way in. He didn’t even want to imagine how it would have felt, though he had to admit he was a little curious.
"Not to be crass, my lord, but…" said Alric.
Eli jumped as he felt the heat of Alric’s thick meat settle between his ass cheeks. He hadn’t even noticed that Alric had undressed while he examined the plug.
"It is alright," said Eli, laying the plug down on the mattress as he dropped back onto the bed. "I was beginning to wonder what was taking you so long."
Alric chuckled. "Ah, of course. My apologies, my lord," he said, rubbing his cock up and down the cleft of Eli’s ass.
"Do not apologize, pet. Fuck."