146: Viktor’s Song

on January 30, 2008 in 05: The Weekend Shift

In Which A Hostage Situation Arises

Viktor’s song was angry and foreboding. It was fast and relentless. It pounded into you. It tore at you and demanded your attention.

He’d just been dicking around with a couple notes before… now it was like he was fucking the entire concept of music, and fucking it hard, ogre-style, with the harpsichord alternately moaning in pleasure and screaming in pain.

Even though I was hardly a musical whiz, I could tell the piece lacked a certain polish… but the roughness seemed to work for it.

It wasn’t a “pretty” song, but it was far from terrible, and impressive in its speed and intensity. It was the emotion behind the music that was harsh… the sound itself was oddly beautiful. It was hard to believe that such big hands could move so quickly and so deftly, that a man with only two arms could seem to pull so many voices out of an instrument at the same time.

Had Viktor never played like this for Steff? Or did she just not have the taste to recognize it for what it was?

The raucous song ended abruptly. I’d say it was anticlimactic, except he just stopped at what seemed pretty damn climactic to me, at a swelling sort of crescendo when it sounded like all the different strands of the song he’d been weaving in and out were all coming together. He just stopped, and brought his hands down on the keyboard again with a roar of frustration.

His whole body tensed when he did this… I think he must have been holding quite a bit back for the sake of not destroying his instrument.

“Wrong,” he muttered. “Wrong, wrong… wrong.”

He played a single note, the lower of the two he’d been toying with during his little soliloquy, then snorted and mashed the keyboard again

“Speak,” he said.

I hadn’t been expecting this, and blurted out the first thing that popped into my head.

“I liked it.”

Viktor waved one massive hand and turned away.

“You do not know anything,” he said. “You are as bad as Steff, who only wants to know when I will write something she can dance to.”

Well, that might explain something: Steff was a pop music junkie, with no appreciation for the… well, I couldn’t think of a word for Viktor’s music. It sounded kind of classical, but it wasn’t. It kind of rocked. Actually, it–and I promise to never use this phrase again–rocked hard, but it wasn’t rock and roll.

“Stand,” he said, and I did.

I was more than a little clumsy at it, because my legs weren’t a little stiff and my arm had fallen asleep beneath me.

“You handle passivity well,” he said, when I’d steadied myself on my feet. “Like somebody who is accustomed to it.”

I don’t know how I would have answered that if I’d been allowed to. Not talking and trying to stay perfectly still while he ignored me might have been incredibly awkward under another circumstance, but the truth was I had no clue how to act in front of somebody like Viktor, period. Being passive was easier.

“It will be necessary for us to speak with one another now,” he said, going over to Steff’s desk. He pulled out the chair and turned it to the side. “Sit.”

Though I was a little squeamish at the thought of being seated so close to the grisly semi-animated arm and the assorted bones which cluttered the desk, I did as I was bade. I did not feel at all relieved to finally be allowed to sit while Viktor stood and glowered over me. Then, he went over to his harpsichord stool and sat on it. He was still looking down at me, but we were on closer to an equal level.

“Answer me: you wish to date my Steff?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Tell me why.”

“She seems so sad inside,” I said. The blunt command had prompted my reply without thought or reflection.

“And you think this will make her happier,” Viktor said. He swiveled the stool around and fiddled with something on the keyboard, then began to play… silently.

“Imagine that we brought Steff back in here and I told her that she may go on a date with you, or she may have an hour to do anything to your body that she wishes,” he said, his fingers gliding easily over the keys. “Try to guess which she would choose.”

I swallowed uncomfortably. Steff had once expressed regret over never having been on a “real date”, but she’d repeatedly expressed interest in doing shocking and even frankly horrible things to me for fun.

Was he actually proposing this? I wasn’t sure how confident I was that Steff would jump at a chance for a night out on the town or whatever over an opportunity to play out one of her more disturbing fantasies… say, in the vaults of the necromancy labs.

Of course, I had my safeword, but it seemed cruel to offer Steff something I wouldn’t follow through on.

“Tell me, do you understand what I said to you before?” Viktor said. “About what would happen if you hurt Steff?”

“I, um, think so,” I said. He hadn’t exactly been ambiguous, but I wasn’t completely sure why he’d chosen to give me that warning.

“If you do not understand, ask,” he said.

“Were you… was that your way of giving me permission to date her?”

“I will not give you permission,” he said. “I will tell your owner my decision at a later time. That was my way of telling you that if you do receive permission, you should think carefully before you act on it. You are a dangerous creature… far more dangerous than my own kin, but not as dangerous as I will be to you if you fail to keep my Steff safe.”

He played a little bit more. I couldn’t translate his hand motions into sounds, but it seemed an altogether lighter piece of music, much more mellow and with his hands frequently drifting into the higher end of the keys.

“Here are the rules you will follow if you date my Steff,” he said. “She drinks no alcohol. She takes no potions or herbs which affect the mind. If she does these things in your presence, you will pay. If you hurt her in the process of preventing it, you will suffer. Safewords and blacklists will not apply in this case. This is not BDSM play. This is a man who is also an ogre protecting what he loves. I do not think you will have to do anything… Steff will know that you are hostage to her behavior.”

I thought he was probably right. Steff always seemed to be genuinely concerned about me. Would that give her the willpower she needed to practice self-denial, though?

“Steff is on punishment now,” he continued. “She is to be mine exclusively, physically, until further notice. This does not change if she dates you. She frequently disobeys me in this sort of matter, but in this case I feel it is important that she does not. If she strays with another, you will share in her punishment. If she strays with you, you will take all of it for yourself.”

He paused, and played what probably would have been a rather dramatic chord if he’d had the sound turned on.

“You will not enjoy this sort of punishment, not even a little bit,” he said. “If you do not wish to abide by these terms… if you do not wish to be subject to penalties for the actions of another… then you do not need to date my Steff. There is no agreement or disagreement. You do not date her if you cannot accept.”

He gave me a good, long look.

“Now that you understand all of that, you may speak freely for a time,” he said. “You have no doubt noticed that Steff is upset by something?”

“Um, yeah, actually,” I said. I probably should have relaxed to be allowed to speak, but suddenly I felt like there was pressure on me. I could no longer fall back on my assumed objecthood. I had to perform as a person now. Making polite conversation would have been a stretch, but this one thing really did need talking about. “I wanted to ask if you knew why.”

“She will not tell me what happened, though she swore it had nothing to do with you,” he said. “I have heard stories about the things you’ve done lately, you see, and so I was prepared to kill you when she came back to my room late at night, distraught… destroyed.”

I almost protested that I hadn’t done anything to her, but of course, Viktor already believed that, or else he wouldn’t be speaking so calmly to me.

Or maybe he would be speaking calmly. It was kind of a chilling thought.

“This is not something I can safely beat out of her,” Viktor said. “I want you to find out for me, if you can. I offer no threats for failure. I am not sure she will tell anybody, but I believe she might tell you. Which do you think Steff would choose, if we asked her? Torture or romance?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I do not either,” Viktor said. “It would be… interesting… to find out.”

I shivered at the way he inflected the word “interesting.” Viktor was smarter and more refined than Belinda, but he was also more of a true ogre. I guessed that being too “interesting” to him was probably not healthy, even with his hands-off attitude to torture.

“Can’t she hear us talking?” I asked. I’d wondered about this before. She was right outside the door, and had whatever hearing she’d inherited from her elven father.

Viktor shook his head.

“Not even if she is still standing by the door,” he said. “The proper knock on the door triggers a chime, but no sound enters or escapes this room. It is necessary for my music, as well as Steff’s.”

Steff had mentioned something about soundproofing, but it seemed prohibitively expensive to me. It was easy to do an area of silence. It was harder to make an area that kept sound from entering or leaving. To make that kind of spell permanent was pretty energy-intensive, especially if it would just have to be undone when the school year was over. Of course, it could be attached to the wall hangings and the carpet…

Then I remembered Viktor’s silent footsteps. Heavy fabric like the carpet and the wall hangings would naturally absorb sound. If that property was enhanced, the way I’d enhanced the insulating property of the shower curtain only permanent, then you could have a portable, reusable soundproofing kit.

It still wouldn’t be cheap, but cheaper than an aura of total silence.

“Would you actually offer Steff that choice?” I asked.

“You are not mine to offer,” Viktor said. “You are beneath me, lower than me, but your owner does not belong to Steff and thus the two of you do not belong to me.”

“Do you… do you honestly believe I’m beneath you?” I asked. Being allowed to talk, to converse was making me a little bit bolder. “I mean, I kind of submit willingly. I’m not actually that weak.”

“Yes, you submit willingly,” he said. “You are passive. You could be strong, but you are not… and that means your physical abilities only make you a more desirable and dangerous possession.”

“I’m really not a person to you,” I said, feeling oddly detached from that observation. When Kyla had acted like anything non-human was an animal, I’d felt personally demeaned. With Viktor, it all seemed so… impersonal. “You’re sitting here talking to me but I’m still not a real person to you.”

He nodded.

“I will not apologize for my upbringing,” he said. “I would not apologize to somebody closer to my level, because I do not believe it is wrong. Most of the people here are neither above nor below me, but you have voluntarily placed yourself beneath another and named yourself as her possession. Why should I argue that this is not your true nature?”

I didn’t have an answer for that.

“Do you have anything else you need to say?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“Then we are done speaking,” he said, and I understood that my conversation license had just been revoked. “I will retrieve Steff.”

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3 Responses to “146: Viktor’s Song”

  1. Ryzndmon says:

    Am I the only one that wants to see Victor and Ian form the first Metal Band?

    Current score: 12
  2. Cadnawes says:

    I actually kind of like Victor. He is honest, and is making the most ethical decisions he can in order to meld his nature with his culture. He is going out of his way to involve only the willing, which sounds like it is positively unheard of in his homeland. Plus, I think I would enjoy his music.

    That said, I would dearly love to see Mackenzie kick his ass.

    Current score: 12
  3. Lara says:

    For the music that Viktor was playing silently later in the chapter, I was involuntarily imagining that he was playing Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in Eb, specifically how it is played at the end of United States of Eurasia by Muse. It fit very well with my mental image of the scene.

    Current score: 0