“Are you sure you have to go alone?” Gaspare asked as Iom shouldered his pack.
“This time yes.” He took Gaspare’s hands, pulling him close. “I’ll be back before you know it and I’ll make it up to you.” He leaned in, grinning as he kissed him, satisfied when Gaspare blushed.
“Just be careful.”
“But then it wouldn’t be any fun.”
“Don’t worry so much, I’ve been there before. Two days there, two back, then you can do whatever you want to me.”
Gaspare’s face turned a deeper shade of red. “Stop.”
“I love you and I’ll be back soon.”
“I love you too.”
Iom left, heading away down the road. He usually brought Gaspare with him, but there was something special he wanted to get for him this time around. It was as he was as he was sleeping his first night out that he felt something cold pressing against his throat and he woke, blinking and bringing into focus the men standing over him. “Well he’s a pretty one.” The one who he was sure was the leader said.
“How much do you think that monster will pay for him?” Another asked.
“Wait.” Iom finally found his voice. “I don’t want any trouble.”
The leader kicked him in the stomach and Iom gripped his stomach as the air left his lungs. The man crouched down, gripping his hair and pulling him up so their faces were close together. “Oh it’s no trouble at all.”
Gaspare paced in the living room, worry eating at him. Iom hadn’t returned when he said he would and he knew something had to be wrong. “Gaspare?” Daray’s voice brought him up short. “Are you okay?”
“No,” he sighed, taking a seat, “it’s probably nothing and I’m probably being stupid, but Iom hasn’t come back yet. He was supposed to be back two days ago, but…”
“That doesn’t sound like Iom, he’s adventurous, but he wouldn’t make you needlessly worry.” He turned to Alvah.
“We’ll find him.” Alvah said.
Gaspare felt at least a little better knowing his Uncle would search for his mate, especially since he was doing it for Daray. Alvah had shown in multiple ways since they had been together there wasn’t anything he wasn’t willing to do or go through for him. Gaspare didn’t think anything said it more clearly than the day Alvah rushed into the sunlight knowing full well the horrendous effects it had on him because he felt Daray was in danger. No matter what it took to get Iom back he knew Alvah would help him do it.
They took only things to cook with and a single change of clothes for each of them before rushing out. They didn’t want too many things weighing them down. Gaspare took the lead since he knew the most about where Iom had been heading on his journey. Daray gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze “we’ll find him, even if he got into trouble he’s resourceful and strong”
Gaspare, trying not to get too much into his own head decided to push the conversation to Daray’s new abilities “you’re doing so well at controlling your new strength as a vampire. It takes most much longer to be so good at it”
“Alvah has been a very patient and persistent teacher but in good ways. I’m really happy with my progress too”
Iom fiddled with the collar around his neck, his fingers sliding over it, looking for any kind of line. He had been messing with it since it had been forcefully put around his neck and all he knew is it was covered in symbols and had a loop in the back for a chain. “You know, if you keep fighting, it’ll only be worse.” It was another one of the monster’s servants, a man about his age named Adan. His brown eyes were fearful, ashamed, his voice a whisper.
“I don’t care, I refuse to be his plaything. I have to get home.”
“You can’t leave, not with the collar and hounds. He’ll…he’ll punish you.”
The worst Iom had received so far was a beating, but that had been from the men who had captured him when he had tried to escape. He had managed to severely injure one of them. The monster though had only made threats and promises that Iom knew would be kept. He had seen it on the faces of the others here. When they served their master dinner, when they were forced to feed and bathe him, and when they would come back from his room. Iom shook his head, he didn’t care how much pain he was put through, he wouldn’t be that creatures toy and he wouldn’t die. “I’m getting out of here and I’ll bring help.”
Adan shook his head. “It’s no use, it’s easier if you just…”
“Don’t worry, I’ll get us out, I promise.” He turned to Adan. “I might need your help.”
“I can’t, if he found out…”
“He won’t and if anything happens I’ll tell him I forced you, so just listen to my plan.”
Adan looked like he might cry or completely shut down on him. By the looks of the poor man he had been here a long time, being abused and fearing for his life. Eventually a look of resolve came across his face “okay” His voice didn’t have the resolve his face did but Iom was glad he could get him to help. “you wont regret helping, I have an in with two pretty incredible vampires. My best friend also became one, not too long ago but he’s getting really good. Maybe we can even get Mabel to help. I don’t know what she is but she’s a woman you don’t want to cross”
“why don’t you know what she is?”
“I don’t pressure her. I think she’s embarrassed of what she is”
“I can tell you all about everyone I know once we’re out. I just want you to be confident in knowing that all we have to do is get to them and this monster will never have us or any of the others again. He’ll be lucky if he’s still breathing when they are done with him”
“Do you smell that?” Gaspare asked as he came to a sudden stop in the middle of the road.
“It’s Iom.” Alvah said.
“I can smell it too.” Daray added. “His soap.”
Gaspare turned towards the woods, spotting a smaller trail leading into its interior. “He went this way.” He headed off and they followed. “Why would the scent be so strong?” The thought worried him. Was he out here wounded? It was shocking finding his pack with everything turned out of it and scattered about. He bent down, picking up the book he had gifted to Gaspare. “He was here.”
“So were others.” Alvah said. “Men, four of them.”
“They took him, they had to have taken him. They can’t have…you don’t think they would…”
Alvah grabbed him by his shoulders and gently shook him. “Stop and smell the air, Gaspare, their scent heads further down the trail and there is no smell of blood or death.”
Gaspare swallow as he hugged the book to his chest. “I know, I’m sorry, I’m panicking. I just can’t lose him.”
“You won’t.” Daray said. “Iom has been to many dangerous places, he won’t let himself be killed, he’s too stubborn.”
Iom could tell that his plan terrified Adan, but it was the the best he had come up with. He knew the monster had to have some sort of key or spell for the collars. “I need you to find it for me, Adan. It must be in his room.”
“But what if he catches me going through his things? He’ll hurt me…he’ll call his friends in to hurt me.”
“I’m going to distract him. He’s had his eye on me since I’ve been here. I can keep him focused on me long enough for you to look through his things and he won’t think twice about your scent being in there so don’t worry about that. I’ll meet you in my room, get this thing off of me, and then go get help.”
“I’m a good runner, trust me. I’ll get away and I’ll come back, I swear. I won’t leave you all here. I need you to trust me.”
Adan nodded, he had already decided he was going to take this chance at freedom no matter the risk. This was such a miserable life and he knew if he let fear make him back down he’d never be able to forgive himself. Not only would he still have to deal with everything he was put through here but he’d have to feel like it was his fault for not even trying when a good chance presented himself. Iom was so confident this would work and his vampire friends would help. It was hard not to trust a man this sure of himself.
They both set the plan in motion, Adan going to their captors room and Iom actually seeking out their captor to flirt with him just enough to keep him busy awhile. If this didn’t work Iom knew this would come back to haunt him but he had faith in Adan. After however long he had been here he knew just the desperation of wanting freedom would drive him to find what they needed.
“We can’t just stop.” Gaspare argued. “He could be hurt, or…we have to keep going.”
“Just long enough to eat.” Alvah replied.
“We can’t, we have to find him.”
“Gaspare.” Daray gently interjected. “Let’s eat, okay? We haven’t had anything since we left, we’ve just been going. So let’s at least eat, then we’ll get going again. Besides, it’s night, a little break won’t hurt.”
“Just for a bit.”
Gaspare swallowed down the lump of fear in his throat and nodded. He wasn’t hungry, but he ate what Daray made anyway. All he could think about was what Iom might be going through. Once they were finished and everything was cleaned up, they headed out again. The night was quiet as they followed Iom’s scent and that of the men who had taken him. It was the scent of blood that brought them up short a little while later and they were relieved to find it didn’t belong to Iom, but one of the men. “He must have hurt one of them.” Gaspare said.
“Pretty severely too.” Alvah added. “He must have bid his time, not revealing what he was until he attacked one of the men.”
“See? He’s alright.” Daray said as he squeezed Gaspare’s shoulder.
Iom had not slept, even though he knew he should have. Even Adan had stayed up with him, listening to him going over the plan a couple more times as if trying to hold onto his resolve. They had gone their separate ways before everyone woke and were both ready to do what they had to. The monster was outside behind the house waiting for his breakfast and Iom had volunteered to take it to him. It was still surprising how normal the creature looked and how charming he came off when he spoke, but everyone knew this was just a mask, that his human form was merely there to deceive. He could feel the creatures eyes on him as he stepped outside and he raised his own, making eye contact for a few heartbeats before looking away. The creature was more than interested in him, he could smell it.
“I see you’re already getting used to being here. Bringing me my food, how sweet” Iom set his food in front of him and the creature took the opportunity to grab his hand “won’t you sit with me” Iom was proud of himself for not instantly jerking away. He even managed to keep the disgust off his face “sure” sure might not have been the best line but their captor might catch on that something was up if he appeared too comfortable anyway. The man smiled and kissed his hand which made Iom want to punch him. It was obvious this thing was used to being able to do whatever he wanted regardless of others feelings.
Iom sat as soon as he let him go “are you acquainted with my name yet?”
“Hm, It is Baikuntha” Iom nodded and Baikuntha began eating. Iom said “I guess I figured I may aswell get used to being here” Baikuntha swallowed “You will like me eventually”
“I’m an amazing lover” Iom almost couldn’t stop himself from rolling his eyes.
Iom crossed his arms and legs. “You’re not the first to say something like that.”
“I am sure, but I mean it.” Iom huffed and looked away to which Baikuntha responded to by reaching over and grabbing Iom’s chin and turning his face back. Iom could feel his strength, but he wasn’t intimidated, he was irritated at being grabbed again. “I could show you.” He let his fingers slid down and hook into the collar around Iom’s neck, pulling him closer. “I’ve never had someone as beautiful as you.”
“I’m sure.” He forced an amused smile onto his face. “I don’t see a difference between me and the others you have here.”
“Then I want you in my room tonight, after all, I could have taken you the moment you arrived here.” He let Iom go, allowing him to lean back.
“And what happens if I refuse?”
Baikuntha chuckled as he took a bite of his food. “Now why would you do that? I want to see you tonight.” Iom could guess what would happen if he said no. He had a feeling this creature would lose his temper and if he wanted to escape then he couldn’t afford getting the crap beat out of him. He simply nodded and Baikuntha smiled. “Good.”
Iom wondered if Adan had found what they needed. He certainly hoped he was at least in the room searching. Iom knew Adan might need a lot of time so he needed to keep Baikuntha talking. He didn’t want to keep talking about sex, the more they talked about it the more chance he ran of giving away how repulsed he was by the idea but it was somewhere to start while he thought of something else “What sort of things are you into in bed, anything I should be worried about” Baikuntha grinned “It depends”
“On you, stay on my good side and it’ll be nice” He internally groaned thinking about what an asshole this man was. He couldn’t wait for Gaspare and Alvah to hand him his ass and free all these poor men being sexually abused and kept under threat of worse happening to them. Adan had even spoke of Baikuntha’s friends abusing them if they misbehaved too much and he could only imagine. Some beings could come up with some ridiculously twisted things to do to others.
“Define, being good. I mean, one man’s bad is another man’s good.”
“I think you know. You come to me when you’re called, you don’t disobey, and you don’t fight.” He shrugged. “It’s simple really. If you listen, you’ll be treated well.”
“You’ll be happy here as long as you follow the rules.” He smiled. “What about you? What things do you like?”
Iom shrugged. “This and that.” He didn’t really want to use the things he and Gaspare did together. “If I’m being honest, I haven’t done much.”
“We’ll have to change that then.”
“Perhaps I prefer vanilla.”
“No one prefers something so boring and lazy.” He pushed his plate away and turned more to face Iom, letting his hand rest on his knee. “There are so many exciting and new things to experience, things you couldn’t even begin to imagine. I can show you.”
Iom was hopeful this man wouldn’t have the chance to try and show him. His touch right now sent a terrible feeling through Iom. He wished there was some way to know what Adan was doing. He wanted nothing more than to get away from Baikuntha and quickly. Just in case Adan still needed time he decided to put his hand on Baikuntha’s, praying it wouldn’t push things too far forward. All he wanted was to keep his attention. Many things about Baikuntha told Iom he was growing more excited so he decided he shouldn’t touch him again once he managed to smoothly take his hand back.
Baikuntha laced their fingers but once Iom turned the conversation into something more normal he pulled away, happy Baikuntha didn’t protest. “I have things I wish to do before I see you tonight Iom. I am eager so don’t think about changing your mind.”
“I am too curious now” Baikuntha smiled, what a freaking sucker,or he was just that cocky., so used to having his way at this point.
“Someone tried to cover their tracks here.” Alvah said as he walked around the area they had come to a stop in. Iom’s scent had become weaker and it had taken him a moment to realize someone had tried to cover it up.
“With what?” Gaspare asked.
“Animal scent. Perhaps there was something they didn’t want anyone to find.”
“So which way do we go?”
“I’m not sure, give me a moment.”
“I know, trust me, I know, but if you want to find him, you must stay calm.” He squeezed Gaspare’s shoulder. “How about we branch out and see if we can pick his scent up again.
“Okay.” Alvah knew what Gaspare was going through. After nearly losing Daray, he understood that fear and desperation, but he also knew if they panicked, they might not find Iom.
Iom worked around the house, slowly making his way to the room he had been given. He could hear Adan’s quick heartbeat even before he entered and he quickly closed the door and turned to him. He looked terrified. “Are you alright, Adan?” He asked gently.
“I…I was nearly caught by one of the others, but I don’t think he saw me take anything.” He swallowed. “I…I found these.” He pulled a small book and small metal rod out of the waist of his pants. The rod was made of the same metal as the collars. “I think this is a key and the way to use it is in here.” He handed them over. “When are you leaving?”
“Tonight, as soon as everyone is sleeping. He asked me to come to his room.”
Adan’s eyes filled with concern “then you better hope you make it out…if you stand him up…he” He didn’t want Adan pulling up too many painful memories for himself so Iom said as comfortingly as he could “Hey, I’m going to make it and I’m going to bring my mate and his Uncle. Don’t worry about me. Even if I am punished, I can handle it. Just worry about you okay. Go ahead and leave my room before others start talking. I don’t want him running in here jealous because he thinks I’m flirting with everyone” Adan stood “if you end up needing help just come find me”
“Thank you Adan, I’m sure you’ve done plenty for me. Thank you for trusting my plan. If he finds this, as part of my gratitude I will not tell him who helped me, no matter what he does.” Adan shook his head “No, if he guesses you had help don’t do that…I’ll just face the music for what I’ve done.” Adan left and Iom got to reading, skimming more than anything to hurry things along.
The sun was nearly all the way down by the time Iom came across what he was looking for and his heart actually jumped in excitement as his eyes moved over the text. He wouldn’t leave his room until everyone was down. It would be better that way so none of them were hurt if worst came to worst. He read over the words again then took the rod and pressed it to the collar. There was a code phrase for each collar that he had written down and Iom said his as softly as he could. He heard the collar click and he pulled it from around his neck, looking it over for a moment before closing it and watching the seam seal completely. He hid the key and book under his mattress then went over to his door and cracked it open a little. He could hear people moving around as they got ready for bed so he stood there, listening to every creaking floorboard, breath, and heartbeat.
He knew he only had this one chance, that he would have to be sprinting the moment his feet touched outside the house. Baikuntha had three hounds as far as he knew. He took a deep breath and was relieved when the house finally fell silent. He stepped out, gently closing the door and listening. He wondered how long the monster would wait before coming to investigate. He move as quietly as possible, keeping his breathing soft as he made his way past each room.
It was incredibly tempting to run but Iom continued to remind himself that being quite was key to getting out. Even when the door came into view he knew he wasn’t free, not yet. He had only made it through the beginning stages of getting out of this horrible place. He pushed the front door open, hating it made noise. He begged with the universe that Baikuntha hadn’t heard. If he did hopefully he continued not to suspect anything. As far as Baikuntha knew everyone was still wearing their collars which meant they could only get so far if they went outside.
Iom didn’t take the time to shut the door again. That would only add to the risk he’d be heard. He simply ran while he finally could, darting through the grass as fast as his legs would carry him. The very second he registered something slamming into his forehead he was out, not realizing what happened until he woke in what he assumed was Baikunthas bedroom “Iom, really?” It was Baikunthas voice. It was still as calm as ever but he could hear the fury underneath that tone. “what gave me away?”
“You really think you have any privacy as my new toy? You really think I’m an idiot, that I own all these men and have so many others out there collecting for me by chance?”
“you’re powerful, I can feel it coming off you. Some think they can be all brawn and no brain” Baikuntha was leaning over Iom who was chained at the wrists to his bedposts… He grinned a few moments though still, there was nothing amused about him now. “I was so looking forward to you Iom but you’ve left me with no choice but to kill you”
“You wont make me feel like anything is my fault”
“Oh? Really?” Baikuntha walked away, coming back with a severely beaten, barely even alive looking Adan. Baikuntha sucked air through his teeth “see, this is definitely your fault. I had completely broken this one. He’d do anything I asked, would endure anything at this point without a complaint and would even go out of his way to make sure I was happy…that is…until you. See, Adan is why you have to die. The fact you swayed him to do something against me tells me how dangerous you are to keep. Now Adan, Adan I’ll keep alive and he’s going to pay in so much worse ways for stealing from me than just the beating I gave him and I want you to die knowing that Iom. That you made this mans life a million times worse”
Some of the menace was seeping out, distorting that calm voice he always tried to keep. He could tell that this did infact hurt Iom and the triumph he felt was enough to make that facade falter just a bit. “why the fuck are you this way!? Its not like you’re even fucking ugly, you could have a real mate”
“I didn’t start this because I was lonely, I started this because I wanted to, because I can”
“How long has he been like that? Why did you wait so long if you knew what we were doing?”
“Why do I do this all? It can all be answered the same way, for my entertainment. It was amusing to see you think you could actually get away. To see if Adan could really go through with it, to see just how clever you would be with your break out. Even now, you aren’t dead yet because my fun would be much too short without this delicious dialogue. I’m also hoping this mate of yours finds us before I finish tonight so I can kill him in front of you” Iom laughed “You’re strong but Alvah and Gaspare could destroy you any day”
“I would love to see them try, I really, really would.”
Iom glared at him, angered that he had toyed with him and with Adan, that he had hurt Adan even though it hadn’t been his fault, and angry at himself for not thinking Baikuntha could be playing them. “Adan, I’m sorry, truly sorry for everything.” He said, his eyes never leaving the monster’s.
Adan laid curled up on the floor, his hands covering his head, his body shaking in fear, but Iom could hear him whispering, “It’s okay.” Over and over again.
“Hush now, Adan, once he’s gone, we can start your training over.”
Gaspare, Alvah, and Daray raced through the darkened woods, their noses locked on Iom’s scent. Gaspare had hated how long it had taken to pick it up again, but at least they were back on the trail and they had decided to follow it rather than rest. They were all worried about Iom and knew another delay could mean something bad might happen.
Iom thrashed and kicked, trying to use his legs to push away from the monster, but the creature kept him pinned in place by his throat, pushing down when he fought to hard. Baikuntha’s sharp nails dug into his skin, leaving rows of red, bleeding wounds. He felt one dig even deeper into his stomach and Baikuntha leaned closer. “What if I spilled your guts right now, Iom?”
Iom spit in his face. “Fuck…you.” He choked out. He knew the beast was getting off on his pain and if he could ruin it for him, he would.
Baikuntha growled at him, his eyes shifting to a bright yellow, the eyes of the monster. He started to slide the nail up and Iom’s cry of pain came out strangled. Baikuntha suddenly jerked back with a pain filled roar and it took Iom a moment to realize Adan had managed to get up and retrieve the decorative letter opener on Baikuntha’s desk. The monster spun, backhanding Adan so he flew back into the bedroom door, unconscious. Baikuntha twisted, trying to pull the letter opener out of his back.
Iom thought fast, he couldn’t break these chains but they were directly attached to the bed. He was vampire and it was just wood, strong wood but he knew if he tried hard enough he could break the bed and hopefully quickly while Baikuntha was distracted. Adan obviously couldn’t take much more abuse and that last stunt might make Baikuntha change his mind about killing him off. He wanted Adan to live for the freedom he would have as soon as they were found. He didn’t deserve to die in this place, he couldn’t let him die some monsters toy. you can do this, you have to Iom said in his head as he grabbed on to the piece of bed one of his chains was connected to and destroyed it “fuck yes” He actually said out loud.
Baikuntha growled again, lunging at him but one arm free was all Iom had needed. Iom hit him as hard as he could then used all the strength in his legs to make him stumble backward. The combination gave him enough time to break the other part of the bed. He was still attached but much more mobile and he’d use the pieces of wood instead of treating them as a hindrance.