229: The Ogre’s Instruments

on June 2, 2008 in Book 8

In Which Viktor Orchestrates

I didn’t so much hold Steff’s hand as let her lean on me the whole way back to Harlowe. We seemed to be in a competition with each other, with each of us trying to walk the slowest.

We both lost.

When we got to Viktor’s room, Steff did her little knocking ritual on it. There was no immediate answer from inside, and the door remained locked.

Steff leaned against the wall between Viktor’s door and the next one over.

Of course, it was her room, too, but my mind was assigning ownership of it to the half-ogre.

She wasn’t crying any more, and she wasn’t trying to get me to let her take my place any more. She seemed to be completely drained, utterly defeated. She looked like she had when she’d first started treatment, when the potion they’d had her on had basically blocked all her emotions.

I stood staring at the knob, wondering if it would start to turn slowly, or if it would fly open, or if the lock would simply click.

If I hadn’t known what the inside of the room looked like, my imagination probably would have conjured the right images anyway: black drapery, skulls, flickering candles. As it was, it was finding all sorts of embellishments.

I was slowly convincing myself that the horror would begin the instant the door was opened, that I would be faced with something more than a disappointed half-ogre with full license to punish me as he saw fit. Maybe he had enlisted the help of another student, or students.

I didn’t really know all the students on the boys’ side, or on the other floors of the girls’ side. I didn’t know what the racial make-up was. Logic told me that something like a gorgon was unlikely. Instinct told me it was inevitable.

Then, what if he’d looked up some of the students I already knew. Did he know Belinda? Maybe he’d spoken to her, half-ogre to half-ogre, and given her a chance to position herself above me once and for all.

Then, if Iona and Feejee were so interested in speaking to other “man-eaters”, maybe they had let Viktor in on the secret as well. I’d had some pleasure at their hands, but I couldn’t deny that they knew how to inflict pain and terror on the human side of me.

What had Feejee said? Iona wanted to know if my body would still be invulnerable after I died?

But… Viktor wasn’t going to…

“Maybe he isn’t in?” I said to Steff, full of desperate hope that faded even as I spoke. If he wasn’t there at the moment, that just meant we’d have to wait. “I mean, he’s not expecting us until after class.”

“Maybe,” Steff said. She sounded like she lacked the energy to care one way or the other. “He took my key, anyway.” Maybe my impression of it as his room hadn’t been completely off, I thought. “I don’t want this to happen,” she said, sniffling. “But it’s going to. I can’t stop it.”

She looked like she was about to cry again, and the fear receded a bit. I wasn’t the only one suffering. I had to be there for her.

“Steff, it’s going to be okay,” I said. It seemed like about the fifth time I’d said this to her. “Really. I’m scared, but… I don’t blame you.”

“Not yet,” she said.

She looked away.

I didn’t know what else to say.

The door picked that moment when my eyes were off it to open, provoking a startled yelp from me.

It was Gwynedd. She seemed utterly unconcerned with her appearance, which was shocking in ways beyond her being naked except for a leather collar.

Viktor’s name was still visible in puffy pink letters on her arm, and she had fresher scars on her bare breasts, spiraling out from her areolas, as well as on her other arm and her legs. She was a good sized girl, so there was plenty of room for the “artwork” to spread out. In a perverse way, it almost seemed to compliment the soft roundness of her body.

They were just red lines, not anything gory or bloody, but they looked ugly to me. That was what a wound looked like when it healed without magic? It seemed… unnatural. I suddenly wondered about my knee. I hadn’t taken a good look at since it had scabbed over. Was it scarring like that? If it was, was it too late for healing?

It seemed weird to be worried about a little scar on my knee at that time, but I was in a mood to worry about anything.

What if not being healed was going to be part of the punishment? I remembered Kai going around with her hands in bandages at the start of the school year. I’d thought at the time that this was barbaric beyond belief, and I’d wondered how in the world she could let Sooni have that kind of power over her.

I was learning how, it seemed.

Gwynedd and Steff were making flurries of hand signs back and forth, then Gwynedd abruptly stepped back and slammed the door.

“We’re early,” Steff explained.

“Why do you have to sign back to her?” I asked. “Is she deaf?”

“Uh, yeah?” Steff said. She sounded a little surprised, underneath the emotional fatigue. “Didn’t you know?”

“I knew she was mute,” I said. “But… isn’t she a bardic student?”


“How?” I asked.

Before Steff could muster an answer, the door opened again, with Gwynedd still standing in the opening. She signed something to Steff, which involved pointing at me. Steff responded, and Gwynedd repeated part of it, and then repeated it again. It looked like she was being insistent.

“She says that you’re a shitty cunt,” Steff said to me.

“What the hell?” I asked, directing it at either or both of them.

Steff shrugged. Gwynedd nodded and gave me a bit of non-verbal communication that even I could understand, then closed the door.

“What the hell is her problem?” I asked.

“She feels threatened,” Steff said. “He took her out of the box and put you in it. He kicked her out of the room for you.”

“That doesn’t mean he likes me, or anything,” I said. “And she doesn’t seem to mind you.”

“I don’t have a vag,” Steff said. “I’m not a threat.”

“Did you… make all those cuts on her?” I asked.

Steff nodded.

“I did more, too,” she said. “But… we healed that stuff.”

“How am I more of a threat than you?” I asked.

“She lets me do those things because I’m not a threat,” Steff said. “I’m not competing for the same position as she is.”

“Neither am I,” I said. “I’m doing this because I said I would, but… that’s it.” I hugged myself, putting my hands on my elbows. The hallway seemed cold. “After this is done… well, I guess I’m going to have to watch myself.”

“She’s really not bad,” Steff said. “She’s… not really socialized. Viktor says she’s a pretty good musician, though..”

“How?” I asked again.

“Well, she can read music,” Steff said. “And she likes the way the instruments feel when she plays them. We can probably go in a few minutes. She’s just asking Viktor if she can beat on you first.”

“How do you know that?” I asked. Even ignoring the sound-absorbing cloth the room was draped with, I couldn’t believe that Steff’s elven senses were keen enough to make out hand signs by their sound.

“She said so, the first time she answered the door,” Steff said.

“Is… is she going to be part of the punishment?” I asked.

This idea was adding to my apprehension. It skewed the situation from “I broke Viktor’s rules and will get what’s coming to me, however horrible that will be.” to “A crazy woman who’s into scars and has an irrational hatred of me is perhaps going to be handed sharp, enchanted objects and told to go to town.”

Steff didn’t answer.

How could she? She didn’t know any better than I did.

“Don’t forget,” Steff said, still avoiding looking at me. “Don’t talk, don’t look him in the eye.”

I nodded. I probably would’ve forgotten, at least about the second part. Perversely, caring for Steff had done something to dull my sense of impending doom, but now that she’d gone so numb, there was nothing left to distract me. Even my irritation at Gwynedd just fed into my worry.

Would she be part of it? If Viktor’s goal was to make it just as awful as he could… but then, maybe what he had in mind was worse. Even the bitchiest human probably couldn’t compare to what an intelligent, experienced half-ogre could do.

I got one answer when the door opened again and she came flying out, her bare feet skipping on the floor as if she’d been shoved. I just barely managed to avoid being bowled over, then reached out to help steady her. She bit my hand, punched me in the chest, and then stomped on my foot.

Considering I was wearing shoes and she wasn’t, the first two kind of made the last one superfluous.

I had a moment of thinking, “At least it isn’t going to be her.” before I started thinking “That means it’s something worse.”

Steff pulled me towards the door. I wasn’t exactly digging in my feet, but I’d just been socked in my left breast. I was a little distracted.

The room was mostly as I remembered it, though the desk had been pushed into the corner by the foot of the bed and the keyboard had been disassembled. A metal table with built in restraints had been set up in the middle of the room. It looked like it was modular.

That was another question answered. He did have specialized equipment tucked away.

There was a bucket on the floor next to it, covered with a lid, with a pair of tongs next to it, and what looked like a pair of pliers. There were a series of three jagged blades with oversized handles, as well. I almost reached out to see if they were magical, but couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I didn’t really want to know.

“Get the door,” Viktor said to Steff. I hadn’t even noticed him, as he was standing in the blind corner as we came in. I remained perfectly still. I wasn’t having any trouble remembering my place. I was paralyzed with fear, my eyes locked on those three knives.

Steff shut and locked the door. The sound of the bolt sliding into place fell away instantly with the noise-damping enchantments, but it somehow managed to echo in my mind.

Locked in a torture chamber with a half-ogre.

Of course, I wasn’t actually locked in. The doors worked the other way. Everybody else was locked out. Try telling me that, though.

“You look worried, my sweet darling,” Viktor said. I heard him moving, coming closer… to Steff, not me. They were in my peripheral vision, but my brain processed them as distractions, not real people.

It was still focused on the blades.

“Do not be,” Viktor said, in measured, cultured tones. “You lasted from Sunday until Friday, almost a week. That sort of progress is more than I expected from you. For that, a small reward. You will be allowed to witness… even perhaps participate in… the chastisement of your friend, from whom I expected a little more.”

Steff made a noise that I think was her trying to say something. I don’t know if she was trying to voice her appreciation or her disapproval.

Maybe she didn’t, either. Maybe that’s why it came out like that.

Then Viktor was behind me—between me and the door!—and I could feel his hot breath on my head, could sense his looming presence.

“Before I place you into the restraints,” he said, and even with him so terribly close to me it was a moment before I realized he was actually addressing me, “I will go over a few things. There is a waiver that I will require you to sign. I have written it myself, but it is based on a selection of perfectly legal dueling agreements with which I am familiar.”

He paused and then walked around in front of me, not looking at me, but pacing back and forth as he spoke. My head was low. I couldn’t see his face, even in profile. He was just an immense, terrible presence in the room.

I resisted the urge to follow him with my eyes. There was something more terrible than the knives in the room now.

“The difference is that this one is rather more… unilateral, I think is the word,” he continued. He was speaking slowly, drawing each word out like he was coaxing sounds from some rare instrument. “It indemnifies me in the event of your permanent injury… disfigurement… or death. Originally, it specified ‘accidental’, but upon reflection that seemed unwise. In the event of anything unfortunate, it would then fall to me to prove my intentions… and honestly, I cannot be bothered. So, the waiver is total and without conditions. You will sign it and we will begin, or you will not and you will leave.”

He didn’t have to elaborate. He didn’t have to say “leave and not come back.” He didn’t have to say “leave and allow Steff to take your punishment, and then never so much as speak to her again.” That had already been established and he wasn’t going to waste words.

He walked to the metal table and slammed a hand holding a pen and piece of paper down on it.

“Go,” he said, stepping to the side without turning to look at me. “Sign.”

Trembling, I stepped forward. The piece of paper was my new object of dread, the new focal point for my fear. Once I signed it, I was effectively stuck. Even if I said I’d changed my mind, Viktor could strike me down with impunity. He hadn’t said as much, but it seemed to me like this was the point of no return.

If I signed the paper, then my last exit was closed.

I couldn’t seem to lift my arms to pick the paper up, so I looked down at it instead. It was short, if not sweet, and utterly to the point.

By signing this form, I, MACKENZIE BLAISE, do hereby waive all relevant protections and remedies of law in the event of my injury, disfigurement, or death at the hands of Viktor Constantinescu (illegible), citizen of Kilrest, the Ogre Territories.

The illegible portion was some kind of scratchy print that I assumed was an ogre clan name or similar. It did sound a bit like the examples of dueling forms we’d been shown during health class, with the exception that it was not reciprocal.

I also couldn’t help noticing that there was no expiration date on it, or any indication that the waiver only covered a single event.

“If you have any questions you would like to ask before you sign,” Viktor said, “then you may go.”

With a trembling hand, I picked up the pen, and touching the bare minimum surface of the form necessary to hold it in place, I signed and dated the form, then straightened out. Viktor’s massive hand swiped across to grab it, and then he stowed it away somewhere.

“Very good,” he said. “Your clothes must be removed.”

My hands started to move, but I stopped.

“Very good,” he repeated. “You will now remove your clothes.”

I peeled off my shirt with difficulty… why had I worn something so form-fitting? My shoes, belt, and jeans were next, then my socks, my bra, and last… with only a slight hesitation… my panties.

I stood there, naked and motionless. Fear had done what heat could not and covered me in sweat, which left me cold. Viktor came over and picked up the paddle which had hung on my belt. He chuckled and put it aside.

“We will not, I think, be needing that,” he said.

With surprising speed and agility, he grabbed me by my leg and neck and swung me up over the table. I landed hard on the freezing metal surface. Before I had a chance to recover from the shock and settle my limbs into place, he began wrenching them into the restraints.

My ankles, wrists, and even my neck were all shackled in steel bonds. The edges of the cold metal bit into my skin, without actually penetrating.

“The restraints are not magical,” Viktor said. “So when you struggle… and you will struggle… there will be no risk of injury from that. It is possible that given sufficient time and determination, you could wrench free of them, though I would react very poorly to any such deliberate attempt. I have no intention of inflicting anything more permanent than a lesson upon you, but it is indeed possible that the waiver will come into play. Some of the things I mean to do have never been attempted. It is not often that one of your unusual nature submits to torture.”

He reached down beneath the table and lifted up the bucket. As soon as he set it down on the table, I felt the chill coming off it. I had a horrible premonition about what was to come.

“We will begin with something light,” he said. “Something with very little chance of misadventure, though I doubt you will find it very relaxing. Come closer, Steff. Do not hide away. I know you have looked forward to this.”

I couldn’t see her, but I heard shuffling footsteps.

He lifted the cover off the pail and reached a gloved hand in. I wasn’t surprised to see him hold up a very large piece of ice… and yet, it was a little underwhelming. He was going to torture me with ice cubes?

Then he touched it to the bond on my wrist, and the cold started to creep through it. I tried to jerk my arm away, which only caused more pain. He held the ice against the bond until the metal felt like it was frozen through, then he put the chunk away and put the cover over it again.

That was it? One application? It had been terrible, my wrist hurt and I’d wrenched my shoulder trying to jerk away, but… it was over. If the other parts were as brief as that… it was just a demonstration, after all. Something to show his displeasure, prove he was serious, and give me a warning not to mess up again.

“The ice will be the first stage,” he said. My heart sank as I realized it was just a demonstration. The real torture was coming up. “I thought I would give you a little tour before we begin properly, so you know what you have to look forward to. Of course, I do not know whether it will be more excruciating for you to have the ice applied to your bonds, or to your bare skin, though I look forward to finding out.”

He ducked down again and retrieved the tongs and the pliers.

“These will be next,” he said. “With the average person, only so much force can be applied, the flesh can only be twisted so hard, before things begin to snap. With you? There can be no such limit. The ice will prove useful at this stage, as well. I hope the fact that the instruments are made of metal has not been lost on you. Steff, come closer!” he said, turning away. “I wish you to witness this.”

He laid the tongs down alongside me and held the pliers in his hand, opening and closing them as he moved the head of the tool back and forth over my chest, circling between my nipples as if wracked with indecision.

All thought of averting my eyes had long since flown from my head. I was looking up at his face, which seemed to be oblivious to me as a person. He was utterly impassive, entirely fixed on the task in front of him.

Suddenly, he straightened up, and lowered the pliers.

“I cannot do this,” he declared.

Again, a spark of hope flared up in my heart. It was over. We were done.

“It is too much,” he said, and that spark was fanned into a flickering flame.

“I cannot decide,” he said, and the flame died, leaving me colder and darker inside than I had been before.

“Steff, you must choose… left, right,” he said, waving the pliers over me, and then lowering them so that they touched between my breasts and dragging them down my body, until they were just touching where the folds of my labia hooded my clit. “Or lower? Hmm? What should it be, sweet Steff?”

“Don’t!” Steff croaked.

“The nipples, then?” Viktor said.


“The clitoris? You aren’t making sense, lover,” Viktor said, waving the pliers above my pubic region. “Unless you mean you cannot choose, either, in which case we shall have to do all three.”

“No!” Steff said again, sobbing. “Me… take me.”

“That is her choice, and she has said no. She would rather not risk losing you, I think. Isn’t that sweet?” Viktor said. “So, sunwise, do you think?”

“I… I won’t,” Steff said.

“You will not what?” Viktor asked.

“I won’t be with her!” Steff said. “I won’t! Do you hear me, Mack?” she said. “Tell him to take me! Tell him to take me, because I don’t want to be with you anyway!”

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7 Responses to “229: The Ogre’s Instruments”

  1. pedestrian says:

    Room 101, where the final betrayal of self will occur.

    Current score: 3
  2. Anthony says:

    Ice cubes as an instrument of torture for a demon with a cold vulnerability. That makes me wonder…

    She’s vulnerable to another form of water as well. So, what would holy ice cubes do to her?

    Current score: 2
    • Athena says:

      Ouch. Given my own lack of fondness for cold (and while arguably a vulnerability given the speed at which cold becomes serious for me vs others, it isn’t anywhere near as bad as Mack) I think I’d rather not know…

      Brings to mind the blessed bedpan comment, actually.

      Current score: 0
  3. ” Viktor said. “So, sunwise, do you think?”

    Unwise, maybe?

    Current score: 0
    • Anon says:

      I’d guess an adaptation of clockwise to a world without clockworks. Anyone’s guess as to which direction the rotation is tho.

      Current score: 0
  4. tijay says:

    For some reason, in my head Viktor has an English accent

    Current score: 1