Warning: this short story contains references to overeating and gluttony, gay male sexuality, mature themes, and allusions to unequal distribution of resources. DO NOT READ if you may be offended by these topics!
THE TEMPLE OF GLUTTONY, part 2: OUT OF THE FRYING PAN...
Breakfast in bed
He knew it was wrong, but he wasn't sorry. Not at all. He just had to make sure he wasn't caught with it. Then his little souvenir would become a very costly mistake. As he turned the brooch over in his hand, he could see where it had been re-worked for the king; the face of the piece bore King Philip's initials but had borne other initials before, and undoubtedly had been intended, with another re-working, to bear the new king's now. But in Dylan's hands, it would remain King Philip's brooch, reminding him of the day, a little over a year into the King's reign, when a rare moment of inattention by the head servant during a royal meal service had resulted in Dylan being in just the right place at the right time. Seeing the king's look of distress as he tugged ineffectually at his too-tight wrap, Dylan had stepped up and released the king from his royal constraints, tucking the ornate pin into his tunic as Philip had registered his thanks with a loud groan and his habitual gut-slapping in preparation for being stuffed even fuller.
A bit of conniving in the kitchen, coupled with the head chef's sweet spot for the young curly-haired redhead, had resulted in Dylan getting his pick of courses to serve during meals from then on. Sometimes it seemed that the king recognized him, and sometimes it seemed like the first time as he approached with his regally overloaded platter, the king's eyes already glazed with overindulgence. Still, he'd felt bonded to the king, whose sweet eyes never narrowed with impatience or arrogance, but only widened with wonder and pleasure as his dutiful staff overfed him to royal oblivion.
Of course, Dylan had at first been looking forward to the king's final breakfast, only the third he'd ever attended since his induction into the royal foodservice, but had realized too late - much too late, actually, as the doomed king's wailing filled the ceremonial hall - that he'd happily have skipped it all if he could have just kept Philip around instead. He turned the pin over in his hand once again, and then reached under his bed, sticking the brooch-pin into the underside of the mattress for safekeeping.
Of course, the new king was perfectly fine, but there was something about the new scheme of things that wasn't as satisfying as before. King David had chosen several members of the royal household staff as favorites, exempted them from serving at the royal feedings and invited them to gorge with him instead. The large household staff, which never had extra time on its hands keeping one royal belly full, now seemed to have several of them to worry about. This was an issue that cut both ways, however, as Dylan was reminded by Rob's bulky form on the bed next to him. Dylan, having felt himself so close to the previous king, had been virtually ignored by the new one. Not so his boyfriend Rob, whose induction into the circle of the king's favorites had made a profound impact on his muscular form, supplementing his farm-raised sturdiness with a hard ball gut worthy of a prince, which is how Dylan had taken to addressing his bedmate when no one was around.
"You playing with that pin again?" Rob had rolled onto his side and was regarding Dylan drowsily, which made his normally sleepy-looking eyes seem almost comatose. With good reason, Dylan thought as he extended his hand and ran it across the handsome expanse of Rob's belly, still tight and full from last night. His prince had gorged like a king and Dylan could sense from the way Rob's breath caught as he stroked the overloaded gut that he must still feel right at the edge.
"Why? You afraid I'm gonna pop you with it?" Dylan enjoyed the sight of his prince's eyes widening briefly at the thought as he fell back against his pillow with a moan. "Oh no you don't! You need to get up and show that big handsome gut off a bit. C'mon, fatboy! Up! Up!" Dylan punctuated his demands with a series of light pokes to the side of his prince's overstuffed belly, which had the desired effect, after much grunting and moaning, of getting him out of bed. Rob stood by the side of the bed, leaning back, out of breath as he surveyed the rich curve of his heavy belly for some time as Dylan watched through lust-glazed eyes. Clearly, Rob had surprised even himself with his prowess at the dinner table last night.
"Fuck!... Fuck!" Rob had a way with words, Dylan thought, as he watched Rob's face break into a goofy smile. Throwing back his shoulders and arching his back, he repeated the word several more times as he paraded around the bed, flexing and showing off. "Look at this fucking gut! So fucking big! And heavy as fuck!" As if to prove the point, Rob locked his fingers under the heavy ball, hefted upwards and then released suddenly, repeating several times for their mutual enjoyment. With each release, the prince's eyes rolled up into his head as the over-packed gut's weight and mass registered anew. "Fuck! This big belly's all mine, baby, and it's only gettin' bigger! Gonna get so big! Eat so much! This fuckin' beats bein' the king! Get to stuff your belly without ending up in everyone else's! Fuck!"
And there it was. The show Rob was putting on was too good to be completely spoiled, but Dylan felt his thoughts cloud as he struggled with whether or not to share his news with his impressively engorged lover. Andrew, the most overfed of the king's circle of favorites, had gone missing last night after the royal meal service. The news had been spread though the palace by Andrew's new friend, one of the gardeners, who had waited in Andrew's room in vain anticipation for some time after the dinner had ended, looking forward to helping his new buddy get comfortable after a night of gorging. Finally giving up and rushing from room to room just as everyone was settling into bed, he'd kept repeating that he hoped Andrew, in his overfed stupor, had just taken a wrong turn and was lost somewhere in the palace, but he'd already been making his way through the halls again this morning, his panicky questions reminding everyone that something was wrong. As large as the palace was, however, it was also heavily populated. Of course they'd find him, Dylan thought. People didn't just... disappear. He felt the bed lurch suddenly as Rob plopped down heavily onto it, aroused and out of breath, clutching his gut and smiling stupidly. Dylan knew what Rob wanted and began to knead his prince's belly as Rob arched his back and groaned with pleasure. Dylan figured a bit of distraction would do them both good and applied himself vigorously to the task as Rob's rapturous moans echoed down the hall.
If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen
Even through the door, the noise level was deafening. Reluctantly, as if crossing a threshold which could not be crossed back over, Dylan pushed the heavy kitchen door open. The palace kitchens resembled a carnival going off a cliff; too many people and too much going on all at once. The kitchens had been closed for the last four days, the staff having been given an unannounced vacation after Andrew's disappearance, but the king's meal service was to resume tonight. The time off had been nice, and made even nicer by coming as a surprise, but it seemed to have put everyone off their game a bit. Re-establishing familiar routines was further complicated by everyone having - and apparently needing to share - a theory about what the sudden vacation could possibly mean. There were rumors that the king must be fasting, which would be a scandal; there were rumors that a core group of servants had taken care of everything in order to give the others a break, which seemed out of character for the self-absorbed king to have decreed. And what of the favorites, left to fend for themselves for four days, who had to survive somehow on normal-sized portions, prepared and eaten with the rest of the staff? With no one explanation emerging as the most probable, there was more talking than cooking going on. Dylan had spent all of his time off with Rob, but his thoughts as he lay awake at night were of Andrew, of whom nothing had been heard, a situation that grew more worrisome with each passing day. What did it mean that one of the king's favorites could go missing? Who else was in danger? Dylan tried to focus. He knew he needed to stop thinking about things he couldn't help and motivate himself somehow. He thought of Rob, his prince, entering the king's chamber for dinner for the first time in four days, hungrily rubbing his belly in anticipation, and his head cleared. Time to work. The chef seemed to be sensing the young server's confusion as he stood there with a platter for him to take, a moment of quiet in the eye of the storm that raged all around them.
"You heard about Andrew, then? What to do?" the chef leaned in and spoke quietly as Dylan strained to hear. "You're worried about Rob, yes?" Somehow, having someone else say it made it worse rather than better, as if worrying might be a good idea. The chef continued with a sense of urgency, "But he has you to watch his back, doesn't he?" speaking with an emphasis that made it sound more like a recommendation than a statement of fact. What did he know, Dylan wondered as the chef's serious expression broke briefly into a smile. He wasn't sure what exactly he'd just been told, but he knew he'd better take it seriously. Although he knew the chef was sweet on him, it had always been handled professionally; Dylan couldn't remember the last time they'd spoken about anything other than the kitchen business at hand. His head spun with thoughts, making the walk to the royal chamber pass quickly; much too quickly to be prepared for what he saw as he entered.
King David stood in the center of the room with his favorites - except for the missing Andrew - circled around him. The servants who had arrived before Dylan stood just inside the doorway, having not yet been waved in to begin the feeding. But no one was looking at the platters of food just then. The focus of every pair of eyes in the room was the enormous royal belly, distended almost beyond belief since last seen just four nights ago, stretched to the point of shining with its tightly-packed fullness. It was clear that the king had found a new way to fill his belly; a way that couldn't be done in front of just anyone; a way that involved a much more massive intake than any series of platters could offer. Dylan suspected that Andrew was, in a way, right there in the room with them; surely, he was the reason the king visibly struggled to breathe and maintain his balance as he scanned the room, apparently measuring the effect of his majestic display on his awed subjects. The qualities that had made him the favorite contender in the succession games had fully blossomed just barely a year into his reign - the physical power, the regal bearing, and now the giant kingly gut that struck shock and awe into those who saw it. Dylan wondered how it could be that he had never quite hit it off with this magnificent man. He imagined their curly hair - his red, the king's dark golden - mingling as they kissed... Stirrings beneath his tunic reminded him he was in a room full of people, and he tried to bring himself back into the present, but the room had been transformed by their king's display into a place without time or consciousness. It was impossible to know how long they all stood there, staring, as if listening to an announcement being made in a language that they all somehow knew but couldn't quite translate at the moment. Finally, apparently satisfied with the impression he'd made, the king broke the standoff of silence, placing a hand gingerly on the farthest reach of his regally swollen belly and patting lightly, declaring with a sly smile, "Something smells good! Time to eat."
The favorites held back at first, as they had usually been expected to do, as the servants began stepping forward with their platters, but the king waved them forward and stood caressing his huge belly as he smiled and watched them gorge. If any of them shared Dylan's conviction about the cause of their king's spectacular new size, they didn't show it. Or maybe they ate so greedily to keep from thinking about it, or what it might mean for their own futures. Although their relationship didn't have to be a secret, Dylan was cautious as he sought eye contact with Rob, who seemed oblivious to the psychological whirlpools in the room and had begun feeding heavily from a platter of meats. He had missed these dinners; all the favorites had. Everyone seemed to relax, in fact, as the sounds of men eating voraciously and enjoying the effects of their indulgences dispelled the intimidating silence, but still the king stood, not yet eating, his glances darting from his eagerly gorging favorites to his own massive gut and back again. The chef's words came back to Dylan as he maneuvered through the room, trying to get closer to Rob even though he knew the dish he offered wasn't Rob's favorite. The notion of Rob being at all picky about what he ate struck Dylan as funny and he felt himself smile as he caught the king's gaze and followed it right to Rob, bellowing loudly now with his belly full of tender, slow-cooked meats. Something about the way the king smiled made Dylan feel queasy... Tonight needed to be more about keeping an eye on things than worrying about Rob's food preferences.
They had begun as friends, two of the youngest members of the royal household service staff, and through a series of playful sleep-overs had become lovers. At first, Dylan had written off his attraction to Rob as part of his attempt to get over the loss he felt after King Philip's last breakfast, but the puppy-love had blossomed into something much stronger as Dylan's feelings of loss waned, and grown stronger still upon Rob's induction into the king's circle of favorites... They'd always joked that Dylan was the brains and Rob was the brawn, and they had gotten each other through some tight spots by looking out for each other. Dylan had wondered sometimes if Rob might prefer someone with higher connections, but it seemed that an opportunity to prove his worth might soon be at hand.
Don't play with your food
It could be argued that no one getting into bed with a spectacularly overfed bed-mate is in for a good night's sleep, and it could be argued that that person would have plenty to look at, stroke, and fondle during the night in the absence of that sleep, but it cannot be argued that a series of such sleepless nights would not take a toll on a young man. After four days of hearing no word about the missing Andrew, worrying about what it could mean for Rob, feeding his prince in the style to which he'd grown accustomed even though the kitchens were officially closed, and then lying awake at night worrying and wondering instead of sleeping, Dylan found himself shuffling toward the king's chamber with a platter that seemed to weigh double the usual, and was too exhausted to register either surprise or remorse when he stumbled as he offered it to the king, dumping seemingly endless waves of the chef's finest seafood curry all over the stone floor. Apart from a momentary impulse to crouch down and lick it off the king's sandals, Dylan could barely even remember the moment, or his prompt eviction from the chamber. He imagined Rob having to argue for a lenient response, but maybe his prince would be too busy overloading his growing belly to think of that. Better not to count on a royal favor, anyway, he realized. Too tired even to face the walk to his room, Dylan crumpled into a heap on the cool stone floor of the corridor and closed his eyes. He would just relax a moment; collect himself, he thought.
He was still outside the king's chamber, just a few feet down the hall, when he heard the king's voice. How long had he been there? Why was the king coming after him? Was he in even bigger trouble than he'd thought? But the king was not addressing him, Dylan realized as he heard Rob's voice too, mumbling softly as the seriously overstuffed tend to do... Dylan turned slowly to see the king's wide back to him, Rob standing very close, facing Dylan, but apparently not yet aware of him in the dim light of the hall. The exhausted servant was still wondering whether their discussion involved him, or whether he should make his presence known, when two of the kitchen assistants came down the hall and stepped up behind Rob. Dylan sank back into a shallow entry alcove while he waited for his mind to clear, straining to hear what the men might be saying. The king seemed to be in the middle of a monolog that had been going on for some time.
"...and of course, I don't have to tell you how much more you've done with the benefits I've extended to you than the others in the circle have. You wear the results of your privilege most handsomely." Dylan could see Rob's eyes light up a bit in spite of the post-feeding stupor that clearly engulfed him - but not the king! Had he not eaten tonight? He could feel his mind coming into clearer focus, and then begin reeling as he saw the kitchen assistants each grab one of Rob's wrists and pull it behind his back, which had the effect of thrusting his prince's overloaded belly forward and upward slightly. Dylan tried to commit the handsome image to memory but he heard that the king was still speaking. "One might even say that you wear the results of your privilege... deliciously! Yes, my friend, you've grown quite mouthwateringly fat, haven't you?" The assistants each used their free hand to smack and heft Rob's heavy belly as the king placed a hand on it too, kneading it as if inspecting a cut of meat while Rob groaned loudly. With one hand on Rob's gut and the other on his own larger gut-sphere, the king now looked back and forth between them, his smile broadening as Dylan's hunch about the purpose of this meeting matured into full certainty. He wondered how he would work up the courage to intervene.
Fortunately, he didn't have to. The door to the king's chamber suddenly flew open as the servants, having poured the last drippings on their platters down the gullets of the king's favorites, flooded out of the chamber for the next round of courses, stopping suddenly as they found their progress blocked by the impromptu beef inspection being conducted just outside the door. As the servants apologized and scurried around the men, the favorites grew curious about what was happening, and ambled towards the door - much more slowly than the servants had, of course - to see what the king could be discussing with one of them in private. Except that it didn't look much like a discussion, with Rob's strong arms still being held behind his back and his full, heavy belly thrust outwards for the king's leering, groping inspection. Dylan could imagine the calculations going on in the royal mind as the favorites lumbered into the hallway, their faces quizzical as they regarded the strange interview in progress. Although the king could, arguably, do as he liked, he seemed to have grasped the difficulty presented by revealing his intentions to the very men whose continued trust and cooperation would be necessary to make those intentions reality.
"Good! You're all here! I was just commending Rob on the wonderful job he's done here; well, you can see as well as I can that he's the most impressive specimen among you!" The king overplayed this little speech, Dylan thought, seeing Rob wince at the overenthusiastic gutslap with which the king punctuated the compliment. "In fact, I propose that the next courses be for Rob alone, as the rest of you watch and learn." Dylan's chest tightened as he pictured Rob singled out for extra feeding, and then remembered that he himself would not be in attendance, having been relieved of his duties for the night after his clumsiness with the curry. He realized, too, that the situation had been delayed rather than averted, as he pictured his prince even more spectacularly stuffed, still in the king's chamber, and the king still hungry. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Dylan thought as he watched Rob break into a dumb grin. If the king could be made to feel a bit less hungry, Dylan thought, it would buy some time; maybe even provide some options to the outcome that would become inevitable as Rob grew fuller and the king grew hungrier. He hoped he had done enough favors to justify asking for what he'd need tonight as he hurried down the corridor to the kitchen, running on pure adrenaline. Perhaps there'd be a way to work some other agendas into what he'd need to do to derail this train, he thought as he slammed full force into the head chef.
Home grown and bursting with flavor
"So you were excused from service for your incompetence, and now you want to make it up to me by running me over during my first break of the night!" Dylan looked in vain for a trace of a smile on the chef's face as he said this. "But this, I think, is about our earlier conversation, no?" At last the chef's smile, although subtle, seemed to invite Dylan to speak.
"Yes," Dylan puffed, still catching his breath, "It's Rob... he's going... to be next... I know it... " Dylan watched the chef's face for some form of recognition, some sign that he needn't keep trying to talk in his exhausted state. The chef began nodding almost immediately as Dylan spoke, but somehow the confirmation was worse than confusion would have been.
"Yes, he is next - we've just received the orders for the preparation. It seems he has distinguished himself with his appetite, no? The king is very hungry for him! Very, very hungry!" The chef accompanied this last comment with a nod toward the large center table on which the herbs were being chopped for the rub, and Dylan felt his stomach drop at how efficiently the cooks worked their way through the piles of ingredients. As if reading Dylan's mind, the chef smiled again. "They work too quickly, perhaps? They cannot stop - it would be very dangerous to risk angering the king tonight - but they could slow down just a bit, perhaps. Give you some time to think... " If by 'thinking' the chef meant standing there with his heart racing and his head thrumming with confusion, then things were going to be just fine, Dylan thought darkly. Fortunately, what the chef seemed to intend instead was that he himself would take care of the thinking, as he retrieved from a locked cupboard a small glass jar of dirt-like powder. "We rarely resort to this - it's too expensive and time-consuming to produce, even for the royal food budget, and it's generally unnecessary for the appetites to which we cater," the chef indulged in a subtle smile as he delivered this understatement, "But once in a while, things have to be moved along a bit faster, and we do have ways to do that when we need to." Dylan was sure he wasn't supposed to know what was in the jar the chef turned slowly in his hand to show the fine texture of the powder as it piled and fell and piled and fell again against the glass, but the secret, whatever it was, would be safe with him - it still looked like dirt. "Of course, we can use the most powerful appetite stimulant available, and we can throw in as much undercooked rice and grains as possible without making the dish taste like dust, but there's still the question of whether the king will eat anything other than... what he intends to eat."
How to make the king spoil his dinner with a hearty, filling, game-changing appetizer? Dylan felt his head clear as he surveyed the tables of food intended for the next courses - Rob's courses - and saw the answer in a pile of tender pork medallions. If anything could tempt a gluttonous king with his mind set on a bellyful of fresh meat, there it was. The chef seemed to follow Dylan's gaze to the platter and they walked toward the table together. Although he couldn't hear what the chef said to the cooks from where he stood, the looks on their faces told him that the chef had little convincing to do as he laid out the new meal plan. Almost as quickly as he could watch them do it, the cooks had the pork medallions sprinkled with the dirt-like powder, breaded and nestled on a bed of mixed grains, in which Dylan imagined the bulk of the expansive, undercooked rice and grains would be hidden, and hopefully, undetectable until they were doing their work. The aroma was intoxicating; something in the dirt-like powder seemed to have vaporized, infusing the whole kitchen with its scent. Cooks at worktables across the room suddenly turned and smiled knowingly. Dylan felt his hopes rise as he grabbed the platter. But the chef had another idea.
"No no no - you were dismissed, remember? The king won't eat if he feels he's being disrespected. Besides, he's never really liked you anyway, has he?" The chef softened this abrupt reminder with a smile as he continued, "Now, if there's someone who can get him to relax and deviate from the course of his dinner plans, it would be Kevin, no?" It was true, Dylan knew. Tall, elegant, servile, with slim hips that swayed so nicely when he walked with the heavy platters, Kevin did seem to have caught the king's eye, and might even have been made a favorite except for the fact that his build was so obviously unsuited to bulking up. Kevin seemed already to have been briefed about this change of plans as he whisked the platter away and fell in line behind the others headed up to the king's chamber. The chef called after him - "Remember - enter last, linger near the king, and give him a moment to realize how hungry he is!" Then, turning to Dylan, "And I suppose you'll want to watch, won't you? You'll have to steer clear of the main doors, but you can take my key to Jonah's room next door - there's a narrow door between the rooms from which you can - " Dylan started nodding excitedly; he knew about the service entrance in the head servant's room. Throwing his arms around the chef's shoulders, he felt his fellow plotter begin to chuckle softly and pulled back to see what could be so funny. "Come on, boy, do the math - having just one giant belly in the royal chamber to stuff full every night will feel like a vacation for the whole staff. You might be the spark here, but this tinder's been ready to burn for a while now!" Dylan threw his head back and grinned, feeling giddy with gratitude as he rushed out of the kitchen, thankful for the chef's explanation but feeling indebted to him just the same.
He reached Jonah's room in time to see the first of the heavy courses disappearing down Rob's gullet. His prince was still being held up, hands behind his back, by the two assistants, who stood at his sides at the dining table on which the prince's swollen belly rested heavily, creeping slowly across the cool stone top as it was filled fuller and fuller and fuller. Dylan could see the king, or rather the front portion of his monstrous gut, just off to the side, being stroked intently as the king watched his next meal being prepared. He knew he should be thinking about what would come next, but it was impossible not to watch in arousal and awe as Rob's massive belly swelled and crept across the dining table. At one point he even caught Rob's glance and was afraid his presence would be given away, but it was clear that although he'd been looking in Dylan's direction, Rob's eyes weren't focusing or even registering what was around him any more as the platters were emptied one after the other into his rapidly swelling belly. His prince looked like a king, Dylan realized, standing at the dining table being packed huge and full by the service staff until he was almost as huge as the king who planned to devour him. But Dylan snapped out of his enjoyment of his boyfriend's stuffing as he saw Kevin approach the king with the last platter, pretending to be on his way to the table where Rob still stood, weaving back and forth now as if unsure of which way to fall. Kevin kept his eyes on Rob as he passed the king, pausing just long enough to bait the hook.
"Wait! Stop! What have we here? Mmmmmmm... Perhaps Rob has had enough for now... " The lunker had taken the bait! Dylan exalted as he watched the king grab handfuls of the breaded pork and shove it into his mouth. Clearly, standing by as his favorites gorged themselves silly had taken a toll on the king's self-control, and there'd be no stopping him now, Dylan realized, as more servants entered the room and stepped up behind Kevin with their offerings, like water flowing freely through a dam that had finally burst. The heady scent of the appetite-stimulant-laced pork medallions filled the room as the king tore through the platter with astonishing speed, clutching the underside of his belly and hollering for beer as he finished off the last of the rice and grain mix, which could now begin its work on the royal gut as the king quenched his thirst with pitcher after pitcher of beer, gorging his way through the waiting line of platters one after another after another.
Suddenly, Dylan realized that the assistants who had been holding Rob had left his side and were now leading the other favorites, with more or less help as the degree of their engorgement required, out of the king's chamber to begin the long waddle back to their rooms. Their moans of pleasure filled the hall as they were herded along like wildly over-fattened livestock, clutching their swollen bellies as they shuffled along. By the time the last of the favorites had been shown out the door, the king had plowed through the succession of platters offered him and had clearly reached the end of his ability to stand. The brusque manner in which he summoned the assistants to support him as he shuffled toward the royal bed, muttering profanities under his breath, made it apparent he'd had his fill for the night. Dylan didn't have much time to enjoy the relief he felt, however.
Seemingly forgotten in this new rush of activity - even by the assistants who had been holding him up - was Rob, who teetered precariously at the table as he tried to support his immensely swollen gut alone. Dylan had to fight the urge to rush over and help him as Rob finally steadied himself and began heading for the lounge chair nearby. Though just a few feet away to a normal man, it was a long march to a man with a massive, dangerously overstuffed belly to deal with. As Rob neared the lounge, however, the assistants appeared with something else for the overloaded prince to rest on - the metal cart that Dylan recognized as the roasting cart on which the kings were cooked and served to their people when they had reached the height of their royal potential. In their haste, the assistants had neglected to cover it with fabric, and Rob roared with the shock of the cool metal as he first sat, then lay back onto it. Hands were on him immediately, slathering his enormously overfilled belly with the mixture of oils and herbs that would crackle so beautifully during the cooking. Rob was moaning with pleasure now as his huge princely belly was rubbed and covered with the aromatic mix. Dylan just stared, mouth agape. Couldn't they see that the king was already too full? Aroused but now in full panic mode, Dylan crept closer to the door to get a better view of the king, only to find his panic deepen as he saw King David half-sitting, half reclining on the edge of his bed, majestically stuffed yet still leering in the direction of the cart, patting his immensely swollen gut as he watched Rob being prepared for feasting.
The disappointment was almost too much to bear, and quickly blossomed into hopelessness. At least they had tried, Dylan thought, wanting to run off but unable to tear himself away. He was still wondering how much longer he could stand to watch when the king's expression changed slightly. Suddenly, the gluttonous leer was altered by a faintly quizzical lifting of the eyebrows as the king arched his powerful back in a vain attempt to give his overloaded belly more room, but it was clear that this brought little relief as King David shifted again on his bed, the leer returning only briefly as he reclined further against the piled-up cushions, stroking his enormous gut with both hands.
"You look good enough to EAT!" the king bellowed at Rob as the oil and herb rubdown continued. "And now, you're going to get what you deserve. I can't wait to - " but they would all have to wait to find out what the king couldn't wait to do, his eyes widening in alarm as he clutched at his belly and leaned further back, groaning loudly. Jonah, the head servant, was right beside him with a pitcher of beer, which he easily poured right into the engorged king's wide open mouth, straight down his gullet, as the royal gut swelled even more immensely. Dylan's hopes had been raised and dashed so many times already he hardly believed the scheme was finally working even as the king grew visibly huger, his feet still on the floor as though he were sitting but lying almost fully back against the cushions now, the royal gut rising like a loaf of bread as his majesty clutched and rubbed and patted and moaned helplessly. Dylan almost felt bad for him - a taste for overindulgence was certainly something he found attractive in a man - but the king had taken his indulgence too high up the food chain, even for a king, and now here he was, about to have the tables turned on him. Except that there was no dining hall full of people, and Rob, not the king, occupied the cart on which... Desperate to stop thinking, Dylan entered the chamber and approached the head servant. He could see from the heavy sway of the lower portion of Jonah's tunic, and the fact that Jonah made no attempt to hide it any more, that normal protocol was no longer in force; Dylan figured he'd probably already been spotted anyway. He needed to know what would happen next, or how he could help. Jonah simply winked at him and continued to pour pitchers of beer down the royal gullet as the king's moans grew louder and his belly rose to grotesque proportions as his arms windmilled helplessly at his sides. Dylan stood quietly, almost paralyzed with arousal now, trying to burn the scene into his memory. Suddenly, the moaning stopped and the king's eyes widened even further. Such beautiful, expressive eyes, Dylan thought. He watched in disbelief as Jonah lay down on the bed next to the king, playfully patting the obscenely engorged royal gut as they all admired it together. Then Jonah rolled onto his side, throwing a leg up over the king's massive thigh, leaned in close, and began to speak in a dry-throated rasp.
"Is this what you wanted, Your Majesty? Is it as good as you hoped it would be, Your Majesty? Because it is for me." The king seemed to nod slightly as he struggled for breath, his eyes rolling back into his head. "But if I may make a suggestion, Your Majesty, you don't want to pass out just yet. You want to be awake for this. Because you'll never see or feel anything like it again." Jonah lunged forward and planted a full-mouthed kiss right on the king's gasping, open mouth and stayed locked on for several seconds, finally releasing to allow the king to gasp for breath with Jonah's face hovering just inches away, smiling like a kid on his birthday. And now, apparently, it was time to see what was in that big birthday package, as Jonah went back in for one more short kiss, followed by a small pitcher of beer poured neatly into the king's still-gaping mouth. Jonah jumped up off the bed; a man on a mission.
"Me next!" Dylan blurted into Jonah's shoulder as the head servant passed him on his way to the door. But he felt Jonah's hand grab his and pull him along instead.
"There IS no next!" Jonah barked. Dylan saw the king's eyes widen even more as the crest of his disastrously over-packed belly rose still further. Suddenly they were in Jonah's chamber, looking through the grille in the door between the rooms, aroused and out of breath as the king's moans resumed, rising steadily in pitch until they were no more than a series of high squeaky sounds. If not for the angle, they wouldn't even have been able to see the king's face over the top of the spectacularly swelling gut-ball. The mix of strategically undercooked grains included in most of the dishes the king had so eagerly wolfed down, and the copious amounts of beer in which they now expanded to many times their size were doing their job with merciless momentum. Suddenly the squeaking sounds stopped, and the royal eyes seemed to fix and glaze as the king's fingertips fluttered slightly at the ends of his outstretched arms, as if trying to touch the enormous doomed belly one last time. Dylan could hear Jonah's breathing change as the head servant's grip on his shoulder tightened.
If you want to make an omelet, you've got to break a few eggs
As a child, Dylan had gone with his father to the site of a cathedral being built, to watch the walls rise proudly, massive block by massive block, in defiance of gravity and nature. The project had been quite far along when a deficiency in the scaffolding had caused a worker to lose his footing, and one of the massive blocks had slipped from its intended placement and fallen many feet to the ground. The young Dylan had braced himself for a loud sound but what had happened instead was a kind of impact which was physically felt rather than heard; an apparent change in the atmosphere or the pressure of the scene that had left everyone's heart pounding yet unsure of what exactly they'd just experienced. No one had dared to move for what had seemed like a long time afterwards.
As Dylan peered through the grille into the king's chamber, that same sense of suspended animation prevailed. He felt Jonah's hand leave his shoulder and saw the door pushed open ahead of him. They approached the royal bed slowly, instinctively sliding their feet across the wet floor, Dylan's eyes registering what lay ahead of him but not really believing it. The king's sandaled feet remained firmly planted on the floor by the bedside, and Dylan's eyes followed the forms of the bulbous calves up to the heavily muscled thighs, which still lay spread wide on the bed. But where the massive royal belly had once risen, like a proud cathedral to overfeeding, what remained of the king's torso was open wide and nearly flat, capped off by the heavy chest and shoulders, flanked by the powerful arms spread wide, palms up. All around them, what looked like the aftermath of a butcher shop looting lay around them in in big, wet, dripping piles; mounds of flesh that had once belonged to - and inside of - the man on the bed. Only then did Dylan's eyes dare to seek out the king's face. King David's eyes still registered a look of surprise; the handsome brows still raised, the mouth still wide open. He stared into the king's eyes for several seconds, and then felt himself get lightheaded as he realized that the king was staring back! The royal eyes managed a couple of hard blinks as they took in the destruction before them, and then rolled back into the king's head, accompanied by a final exhalation of breath. Dylan heard heavy breathing and grunting behind him and knew he should give Jonah a moment to pull himself together before turning around.
"Fuuuuuuck! That can happen?! Fuck! Fuck!" Dylan had, he hated to admit it, forgotten all about Rob in the excitement, although of course Rob was the reason for it all in the first place. And there he lay on the metal cart, slathered in herbs and oil, witnessing the fate of a gut not much larger than his own just a few feet away. Struggling to keep his head up for a better view, Rob seemed to be stroking his engorged belly with excitement, but Dylan knew that the cooking oils with which he'd been liberally slathered would have made for a slippery grip on a gut which Rob may simply have been trying to get a hold of, as if to protect himself in a vulnerable position. If only he hadn't been slapping it, too... No, there was something else going on here, Dylan thought, as he watched Rob's handsome display. To most people in that position, the scene on the bed across the room would have played like a cautionary tale; for Rob, it seemed to serve another purpose entirely. Not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, his prince... Dylan felt his fear and exhaustion edged out by earthier, lustier feelings as Jonah abruptly left the room. They would have some time alone, if only he could think of how best to use it, Dylan thought. He looked around the chamber and thought for a moment that this is how it would be if one of them were king, except of course that Rob wouldn't be coated in oil and herbs - well, not until the very end at least...
Too soon, however, the doors to the hall flew open and Jonah was back, and not alone. The dogs he barely restrained as they scrabbled and tugged at the ends of their leads looked hungry and mean - not the sleek, calm ones one would see inside the palace, but the skinny, rangy-looking yard-dogs, who roamed free at night, like a canine patrol of the palace grounds. If the occasional late-night scream was any indication, they did their work effectively, too... Dylan had no sooner thought to wonder what he could be up to than Jonah had released the dogs' leads, and the reason for their presence became all too clear. Baying excitedly, they clambered up onto the bed and began gulping down the piles of meat that lay all around. Tugging, growling, licking, barking excitedly, it seemed to Dylan that they functioned like a crack cleanup team - with teeth. They dealt with the head last, making it seem as though King David was still presiding over the dogs' consumption of his own royally abundant flesh. Finally, nothing remained but an alarmingly well-cleaned skeleton, a bit jangled up here and there where the dogs had fought over something. The heavy gold wrist-cuffs loosely ringed the bones of the forearms where they had once barely squeezed over the king's meaty drumsticks. The dogs, having responded reluctantly to the whistle Jonah blew, stood in an eerily expectant row as they licked their lips excitedly, but their attention was not on the man to whose commands they responded. They were looking at what they undoubtedly hoped would be their next meal.
Rob, helplessly overfed and gasping for breath, prepped for roasting and now for the second time that evening being eyed hungrily by something waiting to devour him, returned the dogs' stares incredulously, his disbelief shared by Dylan, who couldn't believe they had done all this work just to still be in danger of having it all go so wrong. What had Jonah been thinking, to bring the dogs in before he'd had a chance to get Rob out of there? He wondered if he would have the nerve to push Jonah over the balcony wall the next time he left the room for "a bit of air," as he liked to put it, between courses of a royal feeding. And then, as had happened so many times during the evening, the answer fell into place just as he was forming the question. The head servant turned to him and spoke just as Dylan was picturing Jonah going over the edge of the balcony, his rapidly diminishing form hurtling to the ground, arms and legs comically outstretched.
"Of course, we'll be needing a new king now, and we have no preparations in place to stage a competition so soon after the last one. Besides, we can't tell the people that their last king ended up passing through the bowels of dogs. Their faith in the meaning of the crown would be destroyed." Dylan could barely make sense of where Jonah was going with this; he could only wonder if the officious twit's inclusion in the plan had really been necessary. Of course he knew it had been, but he could still hear the balcony wall calling Jonah's name as the head servant proceeded with his speech. "I propose we issue a statement to the effect that King David was unable to fulfill his duties and has named his favorite, Rob, to assume his throne. Nice and smooth. Anyone could see it would have been you, anyway, right?" Jonah and Dylan looked over at Rob for confirmation, but the stare-down with the dogs had been too much for him, and he lay unconscious on the cart. Two of the dogs had slunk away from the others and were carefully licking Rob's oil- and herb-rubbed gut as they kept one eye on their master, Jonah. "Too overstuffed to stay awake for his own coronation. How very royal! I'm thinking that's a 'yes'!" Jonah grinned at Dylan like a twistedly efficient bookkeeper who had just made his columns come out right.
"But he knows what happens to the kings... why would he... ?" Dylan could barely form the questions he wanted to ask, but Jonah seemed happy to fill in.
"It's true, he'll always know that he'll be back on that cart at some point. And it might not be long, either, at his size... My guess is that he'll eat anyway - and eat well. Maybe even better, knowing he doesn't have forever. To tell you the truth - he won't be the first one to have known where he's headed... " Jonah lifted his brows for emphasis here, as if inviting Dylan to guess which kings had known their culinary fates in advance. Not in a guessing mood, Dylan returned the invitation with a blank stare. Jonah must have sensed that he hadn't completely sold his plan, and looked Dylan in the eye as he continued in a casually threatening tone, "Of course, if you think he'd rather just get it over with right now... " Dylan followed Jonah's glance to the cart on which Rob lay, surrounded now by four of the dogs, who licked the massive, savory gut more brazenly as they waited for Jonah's whistle to tell them what they could get away with next. Dylan was on the verge of collapse as he barely breathed the words he knew he had to say.
"C-call off the dogsss... " And let me sleep, he thought, as the room went dark.
All's well that ends... well...
Dylan awoke with a jolt, like someone who has decided to just rest his eyes for a moment and finds himself waking hours later in a panic, having missed some important event. Not even daring to lift his head from the pillow until he remembered where he was, or how he'd gotten there, he scanned the room as well as he could without resorting to sitting up. The heavy, lineny folds of the sheets told him this wasn't his room, as did the ceiling, painted to look like the sky on a strangely cloudy summer day, like the one over the king's bed... Sitting up slowly, his heart pounding with excitement, he saw that it was true - the view out the windows, touched by the first pangs of morning light, the table by the window, the carved posts of the bed - jeez! the bed! Dylan clawed up the sheets underneath him but could find no trace of the carnage that had ocurred. The staff must have switched out the whole thing; surely there would have been no way to... the handsome stone floor, too, was eerily clean; almost daring him to find something wrong with it. Was this a dream? Or had he just awoken from a nightmare?
The proof lay right next to him, however, that the events of the previous night had been real. Rob lay against a stack of pillows, his sleepy-looking eyes barely open but his dazed smile clearly indicating that he was enjoying the view before him as he rubbed the crest of the gloriously over-packed belly that rose up high in front of him, almost shiny with fullness. The heavy gold wrist-cuffs he wore shone brightly as he stroked and patted and moaned softly as though unaware of Dylan's presence beside him. Finally, however, he looked over at his bed-mate. Dylan had never seen him look more blissful. How the staff had gotten him into the showers and cleaned him up, Dylan couldn't imagine; but then suddenly he could, as he pictured Rob, still on the wheeled cart, rolled into the showers and scrubbed down like a prize bull being prepared for the fair. He would like to have seen that, but of course he'd have been out cold; that his evening had ended abruptly he did remember, as his mind replayed bits and pieces of the previous night's highlights. Dylan reached over and placed a hand on the top of the massive gut beside him, finding the place just beneath Rob's chest where a heavy feeding always made it stick straight out, hard and full. Rob carried his weight high and tight, and when freshly overfed his belly took on a distinctly top-heavy shape that made Dylan's heart race to look at. The feel of it was even better. He watched his prince's eyes roll back into his head as he patted gently on the painfully full royal belly, enjoying the moment of power he felt over his deliriously overfed boyfriend, the king - King Robert, 59th ruler of the Gluttonians, on the first morning of his reign.