Ghalib’s Welcome, Part 3
Well, the tour bought him some time but time’s up! Now what?
They continued down the hall to the end and stopped in a large, round room that was divided in half. To the Ghalib’s left, several low tables were sprinkled throughout, cushions surrounding them. Behind the low tables, a long single one sat against the wall. To his right, loungers, cushions and chairs scattered around the other half of the room. The sand-colored wall here was broken half way by a wide doorway, currently closed by tall, wooden doors. Covered windows took up much of the rest of the wall space, save a huge fireplace opposite the doorway they currently stood in. The heat of the roaring fire reached Ghalib from there. Shelves stood on either side of the fireplace filled with books and other items Ghalib couldn’t figure out. “This is what we call the common room. This is where you take meals,” he said, motioning toward the low tables, “or relax when you are not in training or been requested.” He motioned to the other side. “During the day, when your training is over, many of the slaves who can read, choose to spend their time in the palace library. If you have other interests, Bathasar likes to encourage you to pursue them.”
“He is very… generous to slaves.”
Cyrus nodded and turned to consider Ghalib. “He believes that the freedom they give up, as well as the control over their bodies is enough of a punishment for the crimes they have committed. Not everyone who has committed a crime is given the opportunity to come here. Their crime has a lot to do with it; none of them were truly. Many of the slaves were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bathasar cannot—and should not—ignore the laws. So, he feels there is enough punishment in losing freedom and control as they do.”
Ghalib nodded. “I can see that.”
They turned and started back along the hallway. Cyrus opened the first double-wooden door to show a long room filled with single cots in rows, the headboards against the long walls. “This is where the slaves sleep. When I was still a slave, when Malik Mukesh was still alive, we slept on pallets on the floor. Bathasar has since provided the cots, though the slaves are not always here to sleep at night. Sometimes they stay with the noble who has requested them. When you are here—as you will be for the foreseeable future—you will sleep here. They are quite comfortable.”
Ghalib chuckled. “They look softer than the cots in the servants quarters I shared with another footman.”
Cyrus raised his eyebrows. “Interesting. I wonder if Bathasar knows that.” He closed the doors and they continued along the hall, Ghalib wondering what Cyrus meant by that.
“I am quite sure he does.”
“I wouldn’t bet on that. He is still learning much about the horrible things his father allowed. This,” he said, opening the last set of double doors, “is our bathing room.”
They stepped in together and Ghalib tried to take everything in. The room was beyond huge. A pond-sized marble tub took up the majority of the space, set against the back wall. Three steps led up to it and Ghalib could see steam rising from the surface of the water. Above the top of the tub, a wide window—closed against the storm like the others—would normally provide light and air. To the left, another fireplace, currently lit, kept the chill at bay. The rest of the walls held cabinets of all sorts. Set between the tub and cabinets, long, padded benches gave comfortable places to sit while the slaves were readied for their evenings.
Only four slaves remained in the room. Two female slaves looked to be finished and waiting and two males sat in front of Teman and Nadir as their hair was braided. All four wore gold chains draped around them, wide gold collars around their necks and cuffs in similar gold around their wrists. Otherwise, the two women and two men were quite naked. He noted the male slaves had rings around the bases of their erect cocks and gold spiraling around the lengths. He couldn’t make out more detail and didn’t want to stare, lest he cause himself problems.
Nadir stepped back then. “That’s it, Bahi, you’re ready. Good luck with Lord Atherol.”
Bahi rolled his eyes and grinned. “It would be easier with something to plug my ears.”
Nadir, Teman and the other slave laughed. “I’m afraid we can’t give those.” Nadir patted Bahi’s shoulder. “But you do well with him.”
Bahi sighed. “I will take that as the compliment I know you intended,” he said, winking and Nadir laughed again. “Come on, Zayd, we have a… loud night ahead of us.”
The other male slave, Zayd, stood and bowed his head to Nadir, then Cyrus before taking Bahi’s hand. They shared a long, deep kiss then took a bag Nadir held out and threw waves before being joined by the two women. A moment later, the door closed behind the four slaves and Nadir and Teman turned to Ghalib and Cyrus.
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