"No other marks," said Arix after staring for a moment at Shory's arms and chest. "Ystav, anything on his back?"
Ystav's hands slipped down from his shoulders, began to trace along his back slowly. "No. Nothing. No marks, no scars. Never saw anything before, either."
"So they never whip their slaves?" Arix lilted. "Or were you just a model of obedience and never needed it?"
"Stop," whispered Shory. He wasn't sure he'd have a voice much longer. He was drowning upon the noise in his head, the sick rush of it that constricted his breath, closed his throat.
"Were you allowed to say that?" Arix asked, running his thumb over Shory's lower lip, a touch which halted Shory's breathing entirely. "Did they like it when slaves fought? I'll bet they didn't. I'd bet--" now he was tracing Shory's mouth with his fingertips; Shory couldn't make himself close his mouth, fighting for air as he was-- "they were whipped if they did that. And since there aren't any scars--" his fingers crept below Shory's chin and suddenly Shory's face was pulled up staring into Arix's; air came to him in a sudden ragged gasp-- "I'm guessing you didn't tell them to stop, either."
He'd learned quickly not to. He'd spent the past two years trying to unlearn it.
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