The Eighth House

by Iona Hoyle

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© Copyright 2014 - Iona Hoyle - Used by permission

Storycodes: Solo-F; F/f; M+/f; naked; bond; slave; hood; ceremony; majick; captive; hist; oral; climax; cons; X

“Welcome to the Hall of Choosing, Lady Jana.” The magus in charge of the ceremony of choices was polite at least, although he had no need to be. He was in his fifties, dressed in the opulent robes of a master, just a step down from the council itself. I was just an apprentice at her moment of choosing, one of the hundreds of eighteen year old women and men set to graduate from the College of the Art and make the choice that would define us for the rest of our lives.

How must I have looked to this man, who must have seen thousands of us over the years? Just one more eighteen year old woman among many. A little shorter than most, perhaps. A little prettier than many, with the curves that had occasionally attracted attention through my stay here. My flame red hair and green eyes marked me out a little, too. None of those things was so rare that he would not have seen them before, though.

‘Lady’ Jana, he called me, as though I had more than the barest trace of noble blood. Any trace of wealth remaining. I had barely enough of both to get accepted here, at the College, learning the same lessons all the others did of languages and numbers, philosophy and the theory of the High Arts of magic. Just theory. The college was strict about that before the choosing.

“Do you understand the nature of the choice that you are to make today, Lady Jana?”

I nodded. It was impossible for anyone born in the Hundred Kingdoms not to understand this choice. The same choice we must all make: to accept a life of the ordinary, as an educated but fundamentally normal member of the Kingdoms’ peoples, or to risk it all for a chance at more. Despite my nod, the magus kept going. He obviously relished his moment of glory, pompous bastard.

“A thousand years ago, man wrested the secrets from the gods as we bound them. We tore secrets from them with whips of fire glass and rods of white gold. Five hundred years ago, we learned that there was a reason why such things were secret. Magi were too numerous. Too undisciplined. They almost destroyed us all. Thus, the choice was born. Magi were bound into service, given their freedom only once they had earned it with their wisdom and their power.”

The smugness there, of course, of a man who was confident of both.

“The choice you face is simple,” he said, looking at me so sharply that I wondered for a moment if he was one of the House of the Mind to know my thoughts. “You know all the theories of magic, but you can walk away now before you gain any power. Live a life. Be free. Or you can declare yourself chattel and move on, hoping that one of the Houses sees a Talent within you.”

I knew the choice. It was a choice I had been thinking about ever since Lydia and the slave-woman…

“Fuck! Yes! Just there!” Lydia cried out as she came, theatrical even in that, reaching down to grab the slave woman’s breasts in a bruising grip that brought a cry from her in turn, though not of pleasure. Bound under Lydia, spread eagled, she could do nothing to stop her.

I thought about leaving when they came in, but I didn’t. I couldn’t help watching her. Watching both of them. Lydia was blonde haired and beautiful, slender and exquisite. We’d shared a room, shared a bed, shared other lovers, plenty of times. Mostly when Lydia pushed me to do it. She made no secret of the fact that she was better than me. More nobly born. Richer. The only way things could work for us was if I did everything she wanted. Her just noble enough friend, willing to do half her work for her.

The woman beneath Lydia was somewhere in her twenties, large breasted and dark haired. Lydia had taste, at least. She came down from her pleasure slowly, looking over at me.

“Don’t you want to join us, Jana?”

I held up my book. “I have to study.”

“For what? The choosing is later today.”

“And I need all the learning I can get before then. Before I have to leave.”

Lydia looked across at me sharply. “You’re going to be ordinary? A clerk somewhere?”

“You’re going to risk ending up as a slave?” I countered.

“Like this slut?” Lydia slapped the woman’s breasts. “It’s not a risk. I know I have the Talent.”

“You might think that, but-”

“Don’t be stupid, Jana. I know. I got tested last summer.”

I frowned at that. I’d heard some of the wealthy got their children tested before they came of age, but I’d never met anyone who would admit it. “I didn’t think that was allowed.”

“Oh, everybody does it. Haven’t you?”

I shook my head. I couldn’t afford something like that. Anyway, I didn’t have the powerful friends Lydia’s family did to protect me if someone found out.

Lydia sighed. “Sometimes I don’t know what you’re thinking. Sure you won’t join us? Then I’m going to get a drink. Don’t untie this. I’m not done with it yet.”

* * *

The master mage gestured to two tables, one to either side of him. On one sat a plain grey robe, identical to my white one save for its colour. The colour of a clerk, a college trained nobody. Someone who might get a good position, perhaps, maybe even marry someone more important, given time. Well, time, and a better name than mine. Or there was the other choice. A simple white cloth hood.

“Your time as a novice here is done, Lady Jana. Please divest yourself of the robes of a novice to make your choice.”

He didn’t smile, but I could guess that he enjoyed this part. Who wouldn’t? Pretty young women and men undressing for him? I knew why they did it, of course. It was nicely symbolic. It made the choice seem… more, somehow.

I started to undress, thinking about the items on those two tables. Thinking about the hood. The hood that was meant to ensure that those testing for Talent could not be swayed by the identity of the one being tested, by fear or favour. But it was also another symbol too. A symbol that, for the brief time the test took, even the most talented was a slave. Even the greatest mage started out humbled and naked before their council.

“Quickly, please,” the magus said. “There are many students who must choose today.”

I stripped. I deliberately hadn’t worn anything beneath my robes. Did the old bastard’s eyes flicker down to the fullness of my breasts? That pale skin? The triangle of carefully trimmed hair below? I stood there, willing myself not to blush, still trying to make up my mind what to choose.

* * *

“Here,” I said, moving over to the slave woman. “Let me untie you.”

She shook her head. “Please, Milady, don’t. Lady Lydia will be angry with me if you do.”

I stopped, perched on the edge of the bed, unable to stop myself from looking at the dark haired woman tied there, her naked skin slick with sweat. The mark on her shoulder, curling around almost beautifully, proclaimed her as what she was. Either she’d been taken in some war between two of the kingdoms, or she’d committed a crime, or…

“Are you sure you don’t want to fuck me?” she asked, and I had to admit that she was beautiful as she stretched in her bonds, looking up at me with a knowing smile.

“What’s your name?” I asked her in return.

“Tessa, Milady.” Her breasts were large, the aureoles round and firm. She was obviously aroused.

“You like being tied there?” I asked her.

She smiled lazily. “It has its moments. And I am a slave. I failed my choosing. Pleasing students isn’t the most arduous thing I have to do.”

She failed. She’d thought she had magic when she didn’t. I couldn’t help reaching out to touch her shoulder.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

“Don’t be sorry. I made my own choice. Please will you fuck me?”

“You really want me to?”

Tessa looked at me, and I could feel the desire there in her gaze. It matched the desire I could feel rising in me. I wanted her. I knew I did, but I’d never had the desire to be the one hurting or controlling others like this.

“Oh, yes, Milady. But please don’t untie me. Lady Lydia really will punish me if you do.”

* * *

“You must choose,” the magus said.

I looked from the robes of the ordinary to the hood. Even this morning, I would have chosen the robes without hesitation. Now though… now I had that certainty, that doubt, all mixed together. I had a piece of knowledge I shouldn’t have had. A piece of knowledge that changed things.

“If you do not choose,” the magus said, “then it will be the robes by default. Our order has no time for those too timid to take the power we offer.”

I nodded then, but not towards the table with the robes. “I’ll take the hood.”

“You’re certain? You understand that from the moment you put it on, you are chattel?”

“I understand.”

“That if no House chooses you, you will remain chattel, marked with a slave mark, kept and sold?”

“I understand.”

“You make this choice freely, knowing the consequences? Knowing that there is a price for seeking power that no noble station or money will sway?”

“I do,” I said.

The magus nodded, and I thought I saw just the barest hint of respect there. “Then take up the hood and lace it on yourself.”

I moved to the table, lifting it and bundling my hair inside as I pulled it over my head. The white material of it was completely opaque, leaving me blind, giving me the sensation of being hemmed in on every side. There were laces up the back, and I fumbled with them, struggling to tie it tight. Finally, finally, it was done. I just hoped that Tessa was right…

* * *

I undressed in front of Tessa before moving to her hungrily, my lips meeting hers, our tongues dancing together between us. My hands moved over her body, exploring, cupping her breasts and enjoying a fullness that matched mine. I gasped as she leant up as far as she could, taking my nipple into her mouth and sucking hard.

I slid my fingers down across her belly, grazing her thighs before moving back up to find her opening. She was already wet and ready, thanks to Lydia’s earlier ministrations, and she gasped as I slid a finger into her, curling it to find exactly the spot I wanted.

“Please…” she begged.

I moved my mouth to her, my tongue flickering over her clitoris.

“Please… let me taste you too.”

Oh, I wanted that. How I wanted that. I moved up to her head, kneeling astride her, sitting as Lydia had done. Unlike my friend though, I bent over Tessa, my tongue finding her even as her own clever mouth moved against me. From the first moment that her tongue darted up to flick me, I could feel the pleasure stirring in me.

It wasn’t just pleasure though. I could feel something else too. Tessa sucked at me hard, making me moan, and I felt something stirring behind the pleasure, deeper in me. Something that wrapped around the core of me, pulsing and rising with my heartbeat, strengthening as my breath grew shorter.

“Oh, oh…”

I tried to keep pace with Tessa’s ministrations. Tried to match her touch for touch, lick for lick. I could barely keep up. The pleasure threatened to overwhelm me. If Tessa had been free, she would have had me helpless with it in seconds. As it was, I held out for as long as I could, trying to give her the pleasure that Lydia would never have thought to give her. Finally, finally though…

The orgasm exploded through me, and I felt something else explode in that moment. Power. Power that rocked out from me, raw and untamed, impossible to hold back. I somehow managed to roll from Tessa, panting and looking at her. She recovered first, although I seemed to have given her at least a little difficulty with it.

“Talent,” she whispered with something like awe. “You have Talent.”

* * *

“Walk, slave.” The magus took hold of my shoulder, guiding me from the room of choosing into a chamber beyond. A chamber I could not see, but which I knew well. The choosing took place in the great theatre of the college, with its seats for the heads of the houses, its rows of terraces and benches for all others who wished to watch. I could imagine the heads of the Houses there, looking down at my trembling form as the magus who had attended my choice walked me in.

I couldn’t help thinking about them. There would be a stern faced killer from the House of War, whose skills lay in manipulating the air into something harder than steel. Who could fashion armour from it that could stop a sword dead, and blades that could cut through steel. There would be a serene figure from the House of the Mind, able to know my soul with a touch or less, able to make me think what she wanted with enough time. I knew the House of the Body’s leader was a white haired healer, who refused to use its other talents of rejuvenation and transformation. There would be a talisman and device bedecked tinkerer from the House of Makers, a solemn seer from the House of Knowing. There would be a dark cloaked representative of the House of Summoners, and a brightly cloaked one from the House of Walkers. Seven Houses. Seven Talents. I did not know which house would choose me for mine, only that I had one.

Who else would be there? How many others, come to watch the trials? How many others, staring at me? I blushed inside my hood at the thought, feeling the heat rise through my body.

“Stand here, slave.” I stood, and I felt a wooden post at my back. The magus lifted my arms above me, and I felt metal click into place around my wrists. So that I could not run. So that I would not pull away if they chose to put the mark of a slave on me, rather than the secret marks of one of the Houses. There was no inflection in the way the magus did it. Nothing that might give away who I was. I could hear him move away, and I didn’t know what I was meant to do next. All I could do was wait.

* * *

“You have Talent,” Tessa repeated, while I lay beside her.

I’d felt it too. The roiling surge of energy feeding into my pleasure, building it. Taking from Tessa while I pleasured her, building into wild, untamed magic.

“I shouldn’t be able to do that,” I said.

“But you can. You could be one of them. A magus.”

“We don’t know that,” I insisted, letting my hand trail down her skin.

“We do,” Tessa insisted. “You must.”

Lydia would have slapped her for that. I just rolled her left nipple between my fingers, enjoying the moan that came from her.

“Why do you care what I do?” I asked.

“Because… because it can’t all be people like Lady Lydia,” Tessa said. “Because you’re better than most of the rest of them. Because you’re beautiful and you want it, I know you do. Because… because I got this.”

I could imagine how that felt, trapped as a slave, knowing that someone else had the Talent to succeed but did not make use of it. Even so…

“It could just be a mistake. A one off.”

Tessa smiled, and I could feel the heat rising in me again. “We could always test again.”

We did. Thoroughly.

* * *

No one was making a claim. Not the war mages, or the summoners, or the mind mages. None of them. Couldn’t they see my Talent? Oh, what had I done? What had I done? In that moment, I wrenched at my bonds, knowing that they would not yield even as I tried to break them.

“Stay still.” A man’s voice next to me. Soft, but filled with authority. “It will hurt less if you are still.”

I cried inside my hood as his fingers touched my shoulder. What would happen to me now? No, I knew what would happen to me now. I knew everything that would happen to me now. I would be taken and sold, probably fucked within the hour. Maybe… maybe Lydia would buy me. She would be a true magus by now, and rich enough. It wasn’t a pleasant prospect. I was just a slave now.

Agony shot through me any I screamed, bucking in my bonds. I could feel the symbol in my shoulder, the power rising up through my flesh as this member of the House of the Body touched me. I could feel the slave mark burned into me with power, leaving me shaking there as the pain faded.

I’d been a fool. I could have been ordinary, but I was arrogant enough to think I could be something more. To grasp for something I couldn’t have. And now…

Hands unfastened my wrists, but only long enough to bind them behind me. Something slipped around my neck, and I felt the tug of a leash as my captor pulled at it.

“Walk, slave.”

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