Once in the solar, Morgan instructed the footmen to begin removing the thief's damp clothing. They didn't unbind him, using their small belt daggers to cut the cloth away, instead. Morgan was pleased to see that he didn't have to caution his men to be careful of the thief's injuries. They wasted no time but they were not cruel about it. Once they were done, they moved Black to the thick tick mattress freshly laid with rich furs that sat in a corner of the solar.
Morgan himself put the heavy leather collar on his new pet. He locked it with a tiny but sturdy padlock and then attached a long chain to the loop on the collar and locked that, as well. The chain was already fastened to a heavy loop set in the wall and was long enough for a pet to reach the rug in front of the fire to the left of his bed or to reach the privy closet to the right.
He sat back and admired his acquisition. Rumor had it that Jarod Black had been a member of the Order of Nicodemus Mounted Brigade, a secretive order of knights known for their ferocity in battle. They were also known for their initiation rites, which included tattoos and jewelry. Morgan stared down at his pet and found himself becoming aroused as he realized that yes, Jarod Black did have those things. Specifically, the man had plain steel rings piercing both nipples, his belly button and—this one really appealed to him—the tip of his thick cock.
Morgan bit back the impulse to fondle the tantalizing flesh on display. Black was injured and in shock. Taking advantage of him in his current condition was wrong, even if the man was willing. Morgan chose to believe he was a good man and therefore wasn’t even going to ask. Not that he could ask, as Black was still unconscious. Instead, Morgan picked up a length of toweling and began drying Black's chilled, damp skin. He traced the swirling patterns of the henna-colored tattoos that had been chiselled into Black's smooth, white skin. The man had relatively few scars other than the deliberate ones considering the rough life he'd lived. Except for his back, Morgan noted. His new pet's back was a maze of scars from having been whipped several times. No more beatings for you, my pet, Morgan thought. A body this lovely should be cherished, not abused.
The healer arrived just as Morgan was finished drying Black’s torso and was moving down to his legs.
Megan, a small half elfin woman who had been the castle healer since she was a child, silently looked over the situation, her eyes narrowing in disproval before she schooled her features into a bland mask of respectful servitude. Morgan smirked anew, highly amused by the healer's scowl. He continued wiping down the thief's body, chafing warmth into the shivering man's extremities.
"Are you going to stand there all day or are you going to come tend to your patient?" he asked, not trying to hide his amusement.
"As you wish, milord," she said stiffly before walking over. She didn't approach closely, though. A fresh burst of amusement filled Morgan and he chuckled darkly. He set the towel to the side and rose, moving to an arm chair by the fire and sitting so he could watch from several feet away.
Megan had been a fixture at the castle since they were children. She had always been prickly and had never seen any reason to pretend otherwise to the lord's son, especially after he had made it clear that he would welcome her to his bed. She didn't approve of his father's keeping of pets and assumed Morgan was just as perverse in his sexual tastes. To be fair, Morgan was more open to unconventional relationships than most and saw no point in abstinence when there was always a willing partner or three to play with, but he wasn't perverse. He did admit that his father had been. Morgan, on the other hand, had no interest in fucking not entirely willing partners. He hadn't been offended by her assumptions, though, and accepted her refusal as nothing truly personal. But he’d never completely let go of the idea of bedding the pretty healer.
Now they were both grown, he the castle lord and she a full grown woman. Megan's delicate, girlish prettiness had matured into glorious womanly beauty and he wanted her even more. She still had not come to his bed and he still wasn't interested in unwilling bed partners, so she danced around him, snapping like a shrew, and he nettled her with his sardonic amusement.
He sat back in his favorite chair and watched Megan tend to Black’s injuries. He saw her slightly pointed ears, which betrayed her mixed heritage, turn red as she carefully removed the ropes that bound the thief's hands behind him and wrapped his arms tight to his body. Morgan had wanted the ropes left in place because while uncomfortable, they had kept the thief's injured shoulder immobilized. He heard Megan mutter under her breath that they had, indeed, protected the joint from further damage.
"You warriors and all your muscles!" she muttered crossly. Black, woken by the handling, looked at the small woman wielding a knife at the ropes—which were very close to his bare skin—nervously and then he looked at Morgan, seeming to ask if he was sure this woman was stable enough to treat people.
"What are you grumbling about now, Meg?" Morgan asked.
"Nothing, milord," she said shortly as she hacked at another knot which had pulled too tight to be unraveled by hand.
"You are worrying your patient. Something is clearly bothering you," he said mockingly. She sighed and sheathed her dagger before pulling apart the ropes she'd loosened.
"It's all this muscle," she grumbled. "If his shoulders hadn't been so heavily developed by years of swordplay, the fall would have dislocated his shoulder. That, I could have fixed easily. Instead, the ball is locked tight in its socket. Instead of a simple dislocation, his collar bone broke and there seems to be a lot of muscle tearing. That, I can't fix so easily."
Morgan caught a fleeting look of despair flicker over Black's face, showing that he had heard and understood the diagnosis. A common man could heal well enough to function after such an injury, but it was a death knell to a warrior. He'd likely not heal well enough to ever wield his sword effectively again.
"Is there nothing you can do?" Morgan asked, not liking that wooden look on Black's face. Would the man's sharp wit survive if he knew he'd never be able to wield a sword again? As nice as he looked, it was his mind that Morgan was most attracted to. Pretty bodies were a dime a dozen. A quick wit and sly tongue were not.
"I can piece the shoulder back together well enough to function and bind it until the bone knits back together," Megan mumbled as she poked and prodded. "But shy of infecting him with the lycos virus, there is little I can do magically."
Everything stilled. It felt like even existence was holding its breath.
"What animal would I be?"