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The Red Sash

By L.E. Bryce


The nobleman Tamasin owns a lush seaside villa and three handsome young catamites. Each one vies for the right to wear the red sash, which marks him out as the master's favorite for the night. But when disaster strikes Tamasin will discover that only one of his lovers is truly loyal to him.



Tamasin had never planned to own a foreign catamite, yet with one trip to Sull's portside slave market, and one look at the honey-skinned youth on the auction block, and he had given in. The ongoing war between the desert kingdoms on the mainland meant an influx of Tajhaani and Juvan slaves. There was not a single coastal community on the island that did not have its share of dark-skinned laborers, as they were now cheaper than native-born slaves.

Urrit came at a bargain, for reasons Tamasin found shocking. When asked, the slave trader ran his hand down the young man's sleek muscled arms and shook his head disapprovingly. "Too old," he said. "Seventeen is too old for a master's bed. But you find him pleasing, so for you I will make a special price."

Tamasin suspected the man's "special price" was still too high by Tajhaani standards, yet when he learned what skills Urrit possessed he threw back his head and laughed, realizing he had not been fleeced after all.

Through signs and the few Thrindi words he knew, Urrit had explained that he had learned his craft at a school where bed-slaves were trained. Tamasin listened, then wondered if he had somehow misunderstood, for such things did not exist on the island. Only later, after three hours of the most erotic, exhausting lovemaking he ever experienced, had he realized that it was true.

The moon rose full over the sea, silvering the waves, yet on the heights around the villa the air remained warm. Servants opened the shutters to admit a faint breeze, while Keftu went to fetch Urrit.

There was no ceremony. On any given night the chosen one simply appeared at the door and the servants, hustled by the steward, withdrew to another part of the house. Tamasin, clad in a plain linen robe, watched smiling as Urrit knelt at the edge of the carpet, a Tajhaani custom no amount of cajoling could get him to forsake.

"Stand up, Urrit," laughed Tamasin, "and come here."

Urrit rose gracefully and approached. The sash banded his narrow waist, its rich color and decoration complimenting his darker coloring. Kohl lined his eyes, a desert custom rarely seen on the island yet one that Tamasin did not mind. "There is ritual to follow, master," Urrit said in his halting Thrindi.

"If I want ritual I'll go to the temple. Would you care for some wine, or anything else?" Tamasin gestured to the carafe on the table beside him. As always, he knew what the answer would be. Urrit never drank or took any other liberties in his presence. Lovemaking was an art for him, and even in this strange land the proper forms must be observed.

Tamasin rose and took Urrit in his arms for a kiss. Kissing was a skill the young man knew well, readily teaching his master tricks Tamasin then used with the other catamites, and with his wife, when Yansi showed interest in making love. Each time the kisses began with the lightest touch of lips, becoming firmer and more vigorous by degrees, building to the point where their tongues met. Exquisite tension. By the time their tongues were in each other's mouths Tamasin was painfully hard, ready to push Urrit down on his knees and take him.

He never did. Yes, there were moments when he wanted to dispense with the stylized foreplay and begin a kiss with his tongue deep in Urrit's mouth. He wanted to nibble Urrit's ears and throat, yet whenever he tried he felt his partner withdraw from him. Never outright refusal, of course, just a subtle shift in tension that let him know his actions were inappropriate. Quite simply, he could tell Urrit that he wished to make love a certain way, but once engaged could not deviate from the path his partner believed they must follow.

Tamasin could have insisted. He could have reminded Urrit that he was the master and this was not Tajhaan. Lovemaking should be natural, and what was more natural than lying beside one's partner and exploring intimacies of self as well as body? Urrit had been in his house long enough that his master should know him better, yet Tamasin oftentimes felt he did not know the young man at all. He wanted to--wanted to lie close when they were finished and simply talk, but Urrit did not seem able to give more of himself than what lay on the surface, and Tamasin did not want to spoil their nights together by forcing him.

When he had tasted his fill of Urrit's mouth he drew back. "Now take off your clothes for me."