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 3: KING FOR A DAY
"Look at this fuckin' thing! Fuck! Look at this! Fuck! You can't let 'em take me yet. I wanna get bigger!"
Dylan didn't have to wait for his heart to stop racing or his breathing to settle down to know that he agreed. He'd slipped out of the royal bedchamber for a quick shower, certain that his royal, royally overfed lover was nowhere near awake, let alone ready to get out of bed. Yet there he was, standing at the marble table by the window, his heavily muscled arms pumping handsomely as his hands made the luxuriously long trip back and forth from the base of his rounded pecs to the underside of the magnificently overgrown royal gut and back again. His close-cropped ash-blond hair and the heavy gold bracelets he wore on each arm stood out against his smooth tan skin, a testament to the young king's taste for napping on the sunny terrace between his enormous meals. But although this finely overfed specimen of a man, King Robert, the 59th Gluttonian king, called Dylan his own and vice versa, the king really belonged to the Gluttonian people, and tradition demanded that the king, having been generously overfed by the people, would, in turn, feed them. This ritual had become even more important as years of drought crippled the land's ability to sustain crops and livestock. The banquet with which each king's reign ended - and the king with it - was the people's one glimpse of the idea that there could be such a thing as 'enough,' but Dylan felt he would do whatever he could to delay the inevitable end of their time together.
The scheme they'd devised to delay the inevitable end of Rob's reign had started innocently enough - one could even argue that they had been forced into it - but somehow it had begun to seem mean rather than just deceptive. Not that the men involved didn't get anything out of it - one could argue that they enjoyed themselves very much indeed. Except for that very last part, anyway... But it had been made very clear to the King by his court that the group of 'Favorites' who lived with the king and enjoyed a similarly indulgent lifestyle could no longer be supported by the treasury's reserves - or the kitchen's, for that matter - and that they must be disbanded. The problem of how to send these over-privileged men back to a life of deprivation and the problem of keeping the king from meeting the traditional Gluttonian king's kingly fate - appearing as the main course at his final royal banquet - had come together to suggest the solution it was once again time to implement: the designation of one of the Favorites as 'King for a Day,' a day that ended with the traditional royal banquet except that the King for a Day, rather than the real king, was offered up as the main course. This was followed quickly by the usual official assurances to the other Favorites that the now absent 'King for a Day' was enjoying retirement in the country palace after a glorious one-day reign. All of this had been much simpler back when there had been no inner circle of 'Favorites', and the kings, selected from sturdy country stock ignorant of the customs of the city and the royal court, had no idea of the fate that awaited them. But that had all changed, and everyone had grown just a bit wilier and sneakier as a result.
It all seemed pretty simple right now, however, as Dylan watched his king lean way back and lift his heavy belly with both hands onto the cool marble tabletop, moaning with pleasure now at the contact, leaning forward against the table to relieve the strain on his back. He would be ready for breakfast now, Dylan thought, as the chamber door creaked open and a stream of attendants entered with steaming platters. Dylan, still in just a towel and sandals, jumped onto the bed, out of the way and ready to enjoy the show. He knew from past experience that when Rob ordered breakfast without calling in the Favorites to join him it meant there'd be some very serious strain on the royal belly before the morning was over, and he didn't want to miss a moment of it.
As the attendants approached with full platters and left with empty ones, King Rob's magnificent belly crept slowly across the marble tabletop as it swelled up fuller and fuller, eliciting moans of pleasure from the engorged king. Dylan could see that his king was already bigger than King Philip or King David had been, but that didn't have to mean that it was time for the final banquet. He knew exactly who the next KIng for a Day would be. The man had practically selected himself; distinguishing himself not only with his gluttony but also with the pride he took in showing off the results of it. The perfect man for the job. So when the last of the attendants had exited the chamber, having escorted the King to his bed for his post-breakfast nap, Dylan's mind was as clear as the King's was muddled. Rob had gorged himself into a stupor in record time, no doubt preoccupied by the need to stock the royal banquet table with another regally overstuffed gut as soon as possible. In this respect, King Rob was an exception in Gluttonian history; few, if any, of his predecessors had known what awaited them at the end of their reigns. Despite some reservations among members of the court about how a king in possession of this knowledge would perform at the dinner table, Rob had laid all doubts to rest with his unbridled appetite and his delight in attempting to satisfy it. Indeed, the only whispering about the king now consisted of awed affirmations - how much more thrilling it was to see a young king gorge himself up to such a magnificent size, knowing exactly where it would lead. Dylan could see that Rob was in no condition to speak as he slumped back heavily against the stacks of pillows piled against the headboard. His head lolled back, mouth open, as he gasped for air and stroked his massively overpacked belly, so tight and full as to shine slightly in the soft morning light. It was clear that when the Favorites were all gone and the cooks finally came for the real king, there'd be nothing he could do about it. He had enjoyed the benefits, and would have to pay the price when the time came. Dylan's mouth went dry and it was several minutes before he could speak.
"The next King for a Day... it's Paolo. We'll announce it today, and start tomorrow." There it was. A plan. A bit less pressure. Dylan looked into Rob's eyes for approval. Rob's lips were pursed now as he slapped the sides of his enormous gut, stuffed so tight it barely moved at the impact of his strong hands. Maybe the announcement could wait a few minutes, Dylan thought, as his hands found their way to the immensely overfed royal belly and King Rob's eyes rolled back into his head with a loud groan.
A ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY!
"So you finally figured it out," Paolo gloated, his tone just slightly mocking, in that way he had of being attractive and annoying at the same time. Dylan was almost regretting his choice, seeing how handsome Paolo looked in his extremely low-riding wrap, sitting so low in fact that surely only the base of his cock kept it in place. The dark curly hair and strong jaw were only part of Paolo's appeal; Paolo had been the most muscular of the Favorites, and his abdominal muscles had put up quite a fight before finally giving in to the schedule of constant gastronomical indulgence that dominated their lives. His tight ball gut rode quite high, even in its extreme state of growth and distension. As accustomed as he was to Rob's fine form, Dylan always took a second look when he saw Paolo, and he admired the next King for a Day's heavy thighs and swaggering walk as he backed away from the door to admit Dylan to his small but luxurious room. Paolo's competitiveness had pushed him to the front of the pack, size-wise, and he was not shy about pushing others out of the way to get at a platter he wanted for himself. So this was appropriate, Dylan told himself, but he knew he would miss Paolo. He felt the overfed stud's eyes on him as he looked up from the handsome musclegut to meet them. Paolo was smiling at him. "It's a kingly belly, no? Round and tight, large and fine" Paolo boasted, as he patted the gut-shelf that jutted out from the base of his heavily rounded chest. "As you can see, I've already eaten this morning, but I'd be up for a bit of exercise, if you'd like." Dylan grinned as Paolo shucked his wrap, crawled onto the bed and assumed the all-fours position, looking proudly over his shoulder at Dylan as he arched his back, pressing his massive musclegut firmly into the mattress as Dylan's tunic tented. Dylan pushed the chamber door closed; not so much for privacy as to avoid having to deal with any palace business that might inopportunely arise. Yes, he was definitely going to miss Paolo.
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Attendants with empty platters passed him as Dylan entered the king's bedchamber. At first it shocked him to realize that the morning was gone so quickly, but there had been many arrangements to make and he had gotten much done. With a bit of fun thrown in too, of course, he smiled as he thought of breaking the news to Paolo. It suddenly occurred to Dylan that a lot of men would miss Paolo, as he recalled the ease with which he'd entered the glutton's handsome rump. Dylan wasn't used to such a quick and effortless entry, which, now that he thought about it, aroused him again... So when his report to King Rob, who was once again preparing to nap, this time on the terrace chaise, was finished, Dylan headed back down the corridor to... well, he wasn't sure until he saw it, but suddenly it was very clear what he'd come back for. The gathering outside of Paolo's room was like a party, except a bit less social; more focused. As Dylan neared the door, some of the men recognized him as the king's consort and stepped aside. He could now see into, but not quite enter, the room. Paolo had resumed his all fours position on the bed, circled by men waiting to deliver their firmest congratulations on his good news. News which had traveled fast, apparently. Suddenly, a strapping young stud Dylan recognized as a palace guard was pressed against his side, speaking into Dylan's ear like an old friend sharing a confidence:
"Nuthin' like a g'bye fuck to remember a bud, eh? He'll be livin' high on the hog out in the country day after tomorrow so it's either now or never, I figure..."
And then it hit him. Some of the men undoubtedly thought they were here to see Paolo off, being too low in status to gain entrance to the kings' final banquets, but there were others who must have known that they were, in effect, playing with their food... or at least marinating it. A wink from a dark-featured man across the room made Dylan's knees buckle slightly. It was one of the cooks, ready to do some serious basting if the look of his thick curved prick was any indication. Dylan mentally cancelled his afternoon plans as Paolo's moans filled the small room and echoed down the hall.
NEW AND IMPROVED!
Some of the Favorites had begun their reigns for a day with an exceptional showing at dinner the night before, but none had gotten off to such a prodigious start that they begged and pleaded not to have to make the trip down the corridor to their own rooms. So the sight of the deliriously engorged Paolo sitting on the edge of the royal bed pleading to stay, as if for his life, caught Dylan a bit off-guard - and made him regret his choice again. But Paolo wouldn't be replaced even if the idea were put to him - he was much too competitive for that, Dylan knew. So he took in the mind-liquifyingly hot sight as he pretended to be having trouble deciding if it would be all right to make it a threesome for the night. Not in that sense, Dylan knew - Paolo and the king were much too overfed for there to be any action in the usual sense of the word; just a lot of moaning and gut-rubbing, which, in this particular crowd, was more than enough for everyone concerned. Dylan smiled slyly and delivered the good news. Paolo smiled back and waved to an attendant standing by with a temptingly overloaded platter - if he didn't have to waddle down the hall, he'd have more to eat... Dylan was glad he'd napped after Paolo's little party that afternoon - there'd be plenty more to see before the night was through. Paolo seemed relieved at not having to go any farther than the bed on which he sat further and further back as the demands of his swelling belly demanded and he was clearly going to make the most of it. Of course, he'd still have to make the trip down the corridor to the throne room, and then to the ceremonial hall - the rooms in which the Kings for a Day played out their brief reigns. But he would deal with that tomorrow. The king's bedchamber would be occupied by King Rob, who would spend the day feasting away to celebrate having dodged his gluttonous fate yet again. Of course, this put quite a strain on the palace staff, but only for day, after all.
To see King Paolo presiding over the throne room the next morning, weaving back and forth slightly as he stood on the dais, waiting for the reading of the official proclamation to end so his breakfast could begin, one could have thought that here was a man preoccupied by important matters, eager for action and impatient with ceremony. And one would have been partly right... Dylan could see in the overindulged King for a Day's eyes a look that was somehow both glazed and wild at the same time; here was a man who had been told he'd have everything he wanted. and as much of it as he wanted, and his mind was obviously reeling with the possibilities. The early start he'd gotten the night before had swollen his heavy belly up to a tight massive ball that jutted strongly forward over the top of the low-slung, sash-like wrap that seemed to be suspended between Paolo's round rump and the base of his heavy cock. As he lumbered off the dais toward the first of the servants with their steaming platters piled high, he looked like a man whose indulgences had already taken him close to the end of what his body could endure; it occurred to Dylan that the final banquet might be more of a late lunch than a supper. The appreciative murmurs of the members of the court largely drowned out the noises coming down the corridor, where the ceremonial hall was being prepared for another feast, of a slightly different nature. Seeing the difficulty with which Paolo lumbered to the lounge chair in which he would receive most of the rest of his morning meal, it was clear that the trip down the hall for the King for a Day's final banquet was not far off. Dylan knew he needed to be available to Rob today, but he could see it would be difficult to pull himself away from this.
Just then Paolo caught his eye and raised his head, smiling as he beckoned Dylan over to him with a wave of his big hand. Dylan smiled back and approached, not expecting the expression of gratitude he assumed was coming but happy to receive it just the same. But Paolo had something else in mind as he spoke.
"Bring Jonah to me - I know what I want for lunch and he'll have to start on it right away." Although it was not customary for the King for a Day to specify his next meal, his preferences usually already well known to the kitchen staff, there was a greedy assertiveness to this that Dylan enjoyed even as the brusqueness of the demand shocked him. Dylan knew he looked surprised by the way Paolo continued, "And you'll need to bring Ben too - he doesn't seem to be here." Dylan understood why Jonah, the head of the service staff, should be included in the lunch plan, but he couldn't understand the insistence that Ben be present. The Favorites couldn't be included in the final banquets, since the next King for a Day would be chosen from among them. It just wouldn't work if they knew the whole story. It was much easier to keep them happy in their rooms for the day than to escort them from the throne room at the last minute on some false pretense, but it wasn't unusual for a few who had been close to the King for a Day to attend the morning portion of the festivities in honor of their newly crowned friend. But Paolo and Ben had never gotten along well, even with all the time they'd spent together as Favorites of the King. If anything they were rivals rather than friends. Ben's own handsomely overfed belly was clearly second to Paolo's, but his friendly, easy way with people made him considerably more popular. Perhaps his absence from the day's festivities struck Paolo as an insult... well, they'd soon see. It seemed like a reasonable enough demand for the King for a Day to make, and Dylan knew just where Ben could be found at this hour of the morning.
Ben, like all of the Favorites, made good use of the luxuries offered to him, but had never given up his habitual morning workout, which meant that despite his prodigious appetite, he remained more muscular than the others even as his handsome muscle-gut grew larger. The thought of seeing him now, freshly worked out and wet, was reason enough to come down here in search of him even if Paolo hadn't insisted upon it. Perhaps some sort of reconciliation was in the works... The sound of the water jets turned up full blast told Dylan he'd guessed right as he approached the baths. He followed the sound to the farthest of the stone-tiled rooms, which felt more like a series of wine cellars than a bathing area, with their expansive scale and vaulted ceilings. He found Ben standing beneath the bronze spigot mounted high on the wall, his back to the door, leaning against the stone wall with both hands as the water flowed down over his broad shoulders and strong, rippled back, cascading over the rich curve of his muscular buttocks - a rump like a draft horse, Dylan had always thought - and down his legs. Dylan didn't know how long he stood there with the sound of the water and the fine visuals erasing his sense of time, but finally it seemed Ben had had enough and Dylan was suddenly aware of the water shutting off, leaving vaguely musical dripping sounds echoing through the cave-like space as Ben turned to face him, smiling affably as his cock swelled to attention. The stories Dylan had heard were true, then - Ben was obviously used to company in the showers... The big man grabbed a towel off the hooks on the wall as he swaggered toward Dylan, smiling more broadly now and clearly aware of the effect he was having on his audience of one. His bowlegged strut emphasized the shapely mass of this furry thighs and set his heavy belly into a pleasing swaying motion as he approached.
"And here all this time I thought you weren't interested!" Ben was grinning sweetly now as he ran the towel quickly over his head, sending his curly brown hair in all directions as Dylan's mind scrambled to form sentences.
"Ben... how could I not... I mean, you're... but... um, but, that's... not exactly... why I'm... here." Ben was finished toweling off now and he stood smiling and waiting, obviously in no hurry, for Dylan's next words. Dylan was grateful for the chance to regain his composure; there was something intoxicating about being the focus of Ben's undivided attention. How had he not noticed before now? Dylan could feel himself relaxing slightly as his eyes followed the outline of Ben's massive chest and shoulders but he still didn't dare meet the man's eyes as he continued, "I've been sent to - I mean, our King for a Day wants you in the throne room. I guess he's got something special planned for lunch." Dylan could see Ben's face darken slightly at the mention of Paolo, even as his hands found their way to his handsomely overgrown belly at the mention of lunch. His stomach growled loudly as he spoke:
"Well, if our King for a Day wills, it, then I guess that's what's happening... unless there's something we're forgetting before I get dressed... " Ben's smile was back as he stepped in closer to Dylan.
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They entered the throne room with the sheepish grins of boys who have been caught taking a cookie before dinner and know that they might be in trouble but not really sorry about it. Dylan would happily face whatever rebuke he had coming; the delay had been more than worth it. He was sure everyone in the room could see his new crush written all over his face as he scanned the room for the King for a Day Paolo, knowing he'd taken too long to complete his errand and might be in for a bit of trouble, but Paolo had finished his breakfast and was sitting - if the slumping of his engorged form on the feasting lounge could fairly be called sitting - and looking around the throne room as if if he couldn't be happier, which left Dylan with the feeling that the proverbial 'other shoe' was about to drop... Around Paolo were Jonah and several members of the service staff, with small covered platters and large pitchers. Dylan couldn't imagine how Paolo could be thinking of eating more just yet. He'd seen a lot of gluttony over the years, but he'd also seen the look on an engorged glutton's face that showed when way too much had finally been enough. For the moment, anyway... Paolo waved them forward as they approached, and Dylan found his eyes darting from Paolo's belly to Ben's and back. The day was about to get very interesting, he could tell.
"As you can see, Ben, we've started without you." Paolo ran a hand slowly over the long expanse of his severely overloaded King for a Day gut as he spoke. "But I want you to catch up to me, and then I want to spend some time with you." Paolo paused before continuing, probably more to catch his breath than to find the right words, Dylan guessed; he seemed to have put a lot of thought into this meeting. "We've grown apart, when we should be growing together." Dylan felt a pang of guilt at these friendly-sounding words. It would soon be irrelevant whether Paolo and Ben were friends, but it was such a nice idea.
His little speech delivered, Paolo slumped against the back of the lounge to enjoy the show as the service staff on each side of him moved forward, surrounded Ben and Dylan and began shoving thick slabs of what appeared to be an unusually textural meatloaf into Ben's mouth as fast as he could chew, followed by long shots of beer directly down his thirsty gullet when it seemed he needed help swallowing it down. Dylan found himself being pushed back by the flurry of activity but wanted to stay close as Ben's handsomely tight musclebelly began to show the results of the overfeeding he was receiving. Their eyes met a couple of times, as if each was looking to the other for some explanation, without success. Gradually Ben's eyes glazed as the bliss of gluttony overcame his curiosity. He could only chew, swallow, and feel his belly grow fuller and heavier. His hands found the corded top edge of his already low-slung wrap and pushed it down hard as his engorged gut swelled and his breathing grew labored.
As the next round of platters was brought out, Dylan recognized what Ben was being fed - the meaty terrine was layered generously with the combination of slightly undercooked, toasted grains that expanded wildly upon contact with water - or in this case, beer - in the belly of a man who was to be fed to the point of immobilization. Or something beyond that. Dylan had seen it used only a couple of times, most recently in the saving of his King Rob from the previous King David's merciless appetite. His eyes darted from Ben's face - now totally dazed with the relentless over-packing of his belly - to Paolo's, who seemed to grow more alert as his new-friend-to-be was rendered helpless with overfeeding. Dylan wondered how Paolo could know about the mix as his eyes scanned the service staff for what he guessed was the source of this privileged information. The meticulousness with which Jonah, the head of the staff, avoided eye contact told Dylan everything he needed to know.
Suddenly the service staff stepped back, and the results of their work could be admired. Ben stood, weaving slightly, clutching his enormously distended belly in both hands as he arched his back and shuffled his sandaled feet back and forth as if trying to find his balance. His eyes widened intermittently, as if adjusting to some new feeling, and Dylan could see that Ben's belly was still swelling with the interaction of the grains and beer. Dylan stepped in closer and offered his shoulder to the still-swelling stud, who grasped it eagerly with a strong hand. Together, they watched in awe as the tan, furry ball-belly swelled and gurgled while Ben's breaths got shorter and farther between. His handsome, sway-backed posture grew more exaggerated as he threw his shoulders back for counterbalance while his enormous gut swelled before their eyes. Wide-eyed and open-mouthed as he tried to gulp in air, Ben looked surprised, as though the effects of overindulging were new to him. But this was different, Dylan knew. Ben was dangerously over-full, it was clear. In their haste to get the newcomer caught up with his host, the dutiful staff had gone too far. The result, admittedly, was magnificent. Not that Dylan wished Ben ill - far from it, in fact - but this was an occupational hazard; part of the deal. You can't push the limits that hard without sometimes going right over the line... Dylan turned toward Ben, placed both of his hands on the massively swollen doomed gut and was preparing himself to say goodbye to this handsome, gloriously overfed stud when finally the gurgling and swelling stopped. He sensed it first in Ben's grip on his shoulder, which relaxed in relief, and then heard it in his voice, as he finally spoke. Or moaned, at first. And then spoke. Between gasps for breath. And a belch or two...
"Damn!... I thought...brwaaaaap!... I thought... I thought that was gonna be... the end of me!.. Stay close... Need some... brwaaaaap!... support... " He didn't have to ask twice. Dylan wasn't going anywhere with this helplessly engorged stud needing a hand. Not for the world. If someone had come up to him at that moment and asked about Rob, Dylan would have asked, 'Rob? Rob who?' He pressed in closer to Ben, throwing an arm around the massive upper back as he admired the depth of Ben's giant gut jutting out before him. Ben was whimpering softly now, in between belches. Right at the edge. Clearly not out of the woods yet.
Then Paolo pushed himself up from the lounge, with some help from his attendants, to a full standing position, weaving slightly, as Ben was, as he found his balance in spite of the sudden, extreme addition to his bulk over the last day. Dylan's dry mouth went drier as he surveyed the dark-haired King for a Day's regally swollen belly, shiny and tight with fullness, which Paolo stroked almost lasciviously as he addressed Ben.
"As I was saying, we have been too much apart. Today, we come together." Paolo paused as his words were greeted by some spontaneous applause from the court, smiling as he continued: "Seeing you here now, looking so large and fine, so very large and fine, makes me even more excited to tell you how pleased I am to have you here for lunch." Paolo's head lowered slightly as the pace of his lascivious gut-stroking accelerated, with both hands now, covering the expanse of his enormous, greedy belly in vigorous, lusty strokes. He almost seemed to be drooling from one side of his partly open mouth as he went on: "I can barely think of the words to tell you how eager I am - " Yes, he was definitely drooling. Dylan realized what was happening just as the words left Paolo's wet, smiling lips. "How eager I am - to feast on you!"
Dylan heard only a dull roar in his ears, whether the result of his shock or the excitement of the court he couldn't tell. He felt strong hands on his arms, pulling him away from Ben, who was now surrounded by cooks basting him with oils as he stood there, fed to a stupor and dumbfounded by his sudden change of status on the food chain. Paolo would finally get the better of his rival. He would eat him, in front of everyone, growing even more huge and magnificent in the process. Who had put this idea in his head? Did he know what had really happened to the Favorite Andrew during the reign of the late King David? Did he also understand what the end of the day meant for himself? But then, maybe he'd thought of this on his own... Dylan had to admit that Ben, tanned brown. deliriously overstuffed and now oiled up, looked delicious... And the look of surprise mingled with pleasure on his face as he stroked his massive, glossy belly didn't exactly help his case for not being eaten either. Dylan was trying to think of how he'd intervene - whether King Rob would even be conscious enough to make a ruling of some sort, with his own feasting well underway in the royal bedchamber - as the roasting cart was wheeled up behind Ben and he was pushed back onto it while another round of gut-rubbing and basting began. Another pitcher of beer was poured down Ben's gullet as he lay on the cart, re-activating the expansion of the grains with which his stomach had been packed. The shine on the fine brown belly grew brighter as it ramped up a notch, and then another; its whimpering owner reduced to desperate glances at Dylan as the cart was wheeled into place in the middle of the room, where a fire had been built directly on the stone floor, not unlike the arrangement that awaited Paolo himself just down the corridor in the ceremonial hall. Dylan wished he could somehow say with his eyes that he hadn't known that this is why Ben had been sent for. He wished there were something he could do. And he wished that his rock-hard erection were not so obvious as Ben's belly ramped up higher and higher while Paolo looked on, licking his lips.
Maybe it was the flash of the cutlery, glinting in the flames, or maybe the dull roaring sound in his hears was finally identifiable, but suddenly Dylan was aware that the sound in the room was the sound of many knife-handles being beaten against tabletops. The sound, at first sporadic as one or two began the .........., then in unison as the mood in the room coalesced and the group's resolve strengthened, depicted a consensus, as though a vote had been taken for which ballots were not necessary. Paolo was smiling now as he strutted around the room, no doubt pleased that the court was so excited about his plan. He was no doubt looking forward to having his King for a Day reign discussed for many years to come. Dylan had never gotten along all that well with Paolo, but he was a fine specimen, there was no doubt. The curve of his strong back as he swaggered across the stone floor exaggerated his bowlegged walk. His powerful thighs worked hard as he lumbered back and forth past the court, displaying his massive, regally overstuffed belly, and his breath came harder and harder. Clearly, he would not have room for more than a taste of his cannibalistic lunch, but Dylan understood that wasn't really the point.
The smell of the roasting filled the hall - it wouldn't be much longer before the real show would begin - the King for a Day would feast upon his rival. Dylan felt his eyes burning, and the wetness on his cheeks told him it was tears and not the smoke. He'd barely known Ben, but he'd been looking forward to correcting that... He found his way through the excited crowd to the door, not quite knowing how he'd arrived there, when suddenly the din of the pounding cutlery stopped. He turned just in time to see the surge.
Like a draw-cord pulled through the top of a sack, gathering itself together in a tighter and tighter circle, the crowd engulfed the King for a Day and his tastily roasted rival. Paolo's cry of horror lasted only a moment. He'd awakened an appetite that would wait no longer to be satisfied. He would join his rival as the crowd's lunch - he would be the carpaccio, and Ben the roast.
Dylan knew he needed to protect the king, but the roar down the hall as he left the throne room and headed toward the royal bedchamber told him he was already too late. He arrived outside the King's room only to be pushed back by the crowd as they pulled King Rob into the hallway and toward the ceremonial hall on a large, wheeled kitchen table. He'd already been oiled up for roasting, and had clearly offered no resistance, having been fed all morning into a delirious stupor. Dylan caught his eye through the crowd as they wheeled him past. Rob was pursing his lips as he clutched and smacked the sides of his enormously swollen belly, splattering oil on the cheering crowd. As he'd been the last time he was on a roasting cart, he was fully aroused. Well, at least he'd known this was coming, Dylan thought. The same couldn't be said for the Favorites, whose shouts he heard as they were dragged from their rooms nearby, like fattened game flushed from hiding during a hunt. He looked down the corridor just in time to see the massive Favorite Thomas on his back, legs in the air, staring in dazed disbelief over the top of his belly at the two men who dragged him by his feet, like a side of beef, down the corridor towards the ceremonial hall as they teased him about how tasty he looked and how many hungry mouths he'd feed. Farther down the corridor, the Favorite Hans yelped as his arms were held behind his back and he was paraded along like a prize bull while the mob, like customers in a butcher shop approvingly inspecting a cut of beef, poked and slapped his fine heavy belly, freshly engorged from a huge breakfast. Following him was Gerard, eyes glazed from overfeeding, who clutched his massive gut possessively as he shuffled along like a sleep-walker. Behind him, Scotty swaggered along, obviously proud to be showing off his handsomely distended muscle-gut as he ran his strong hands back and forth over it, obviously having no idea at all where this parade was leading as he flexed his arms and slapped his swollen gut for the cheering crowd. The truth would come soon enough. Until then, there was still some time to enjoy himself... Dylan knew that the Favorites who'd attended Paolo's luncheon couldn't be faring any better. He slipped into the bedchamber and pushed the door shut, hoping to come up with a plan - or at least a coherent thought. The din in the corridor subsided somewhat as the mob moved toward the ceremonial hall, where the massive fire in the pit in the middle of the floor roared away, ready to do its work. The Gluttonian Kings' promise of plenty for their people would be made good today, to an extent that had never been intended. Exhausted, Dylan leaned heavily against the closed door as if making sure he was alone in the room. But he wasn't. There was someone at the window by the balcony, looking out, listening, waiting - Dylan couldn't tell. It was Jonah, the head of the servants, and the only source for much of the information that had made this coup possible.
Jonah didn't seem to have noticed that he had company yet. Dylan wiped his eyes and steeled himself. He approached as if in a daze, which at this point in the day didn't require much acting. Sometimes, reality is the best cover story. Jonah turned and smiled. Not a nice smile. Dylan would let him speak first.
"So - you get some lunch?" The smile got nastier. Dylan was reminded of an image he'd entertained more than once in the time they'd served together. The difference was that this time, he was prepared to make it real. He moved toward the door to the balcony, with its view out over the rooftops of the palace and the surrounding countryside.
"No, I haven't eaten. I think I need some air, actually... " Dylan looked back over his shoulder to see if Jonah would take the bait, and was pleased to see him following. Dylan knew Jonah's character well enough to know that he'd have more casual cruelties to share before he was through - he would have no choice but to join him on the balcony just to get all of his gloating in.
"Yes, it's been a big day for you! From the bowels of the staff quarters to the King's bed and back again - assuming the new regime even has use for you, that is.... Almost can't even think of how a person could lose more in one day than you have - and it's barely noon!" Dylan hadn't expected Jonah to make this easy, but he had to compose himself again before he could face him. There'd be time for feelings later.
"Well, there may be a way a person could lose more... " Dylan mumbled the words, almost inaudible even to himself. Between the wind outside and the roaring of the crowds inside as they moved from room to room, it wasn't a day for mumbling. Unless, of course, one had a plan. Jonah took the bait and stepped in closer.
"What's that? I can;t hear you... You'll have to speak up a bit, even if you're feeling a bit sorry for yourself just at the moment." They were leaning against the low stone wall around the king's balcony now, the best view in the land, but neither man was remotely aware of it. The looting crowds in the palace seemed as far away as the people on the ground below. It was as if they were alone in their own little world.
"I said, there may be a way a person could lose more," Dylan could feel that his eyes were wet again, but he felt strong.
"You can feel sorry for yourself and your friends all you want, but you have to admit - this was long overdue!" Jonah delivered his line with a relish that steeled Dylan's resolve.
"Perhaps, but then so is this!" With a single deft movement with which he surprised even himself, Dylan grabbed Jonah's waist with both hands and pushed him over the low wall of the balcony, forgetting his own fear of heights as he leaned way out over the edge to watch as the shrieking head servant's form grew smaller and smaller and smaller. It seemed to take forever, and to be over way too soon. He remained for some time, leaning out over the open air, as if waiting for something to undo what he'd done; as if waiting to see if the whole day had happened at all. A vulture glided by, eye to eye, as Dylan took in the countryside around him. It seemed that he could see everything - even to the end of the land where the kingdom's two rivers met the sea. A voice far below called up to him, and he looked down suddenly before he could think better of it. His fear of heights returned in a glorious light-headed whoosh, in which he was vaguely aware of pressing his thighs against the balcony wall and standing briefly before everything went dark.
MONEY BACK IF NOT SATISFIED!
He woke suddenly, not knowing why, or, for a moment, where. Then he heard it again, the familiar clank that must have broken his sleep. Elemental, reassuring, like metal on stone. The cool air that mussed his hair and brushed his cheek seemed friendly enough, but he felt wary as he opened his eyes and looked around in the dim light of the half moon. He felt like an actor who has forgotten his lines as he looked around the small balcony that was his stage as though searching for clues, or waiting for a line whispered from offstage to remind him of where in the scene they were... Suddenly, the day came back to him like a mythical flood, and just as inconceivable. But he was no closer to making sense of it now than he'd been as it had happened. For now, he needed only to determine if the person whose form he saw just inside the door was an enemy or a friend. The King's bedchamber was lit only by the half-moonlight, and a single low oil-lamp by the bed, but it was enough to see that the room had been left surprisingly intact despite the upheaval of the day. Then again, the scale of the royal furnishings didn't lend them to being tossed around, even in a palace coup. With a rush of relief, Dylan recognized the young man standing by the table. One of the quieter and more dedicated members of the housekeeping staff, Perry was almost always the last to leave after a banquet, always seeming to find another thing to do. This attentiveness had often resulted in him spending the night with Dylan and the King; not like a date, really, but more like a puppy who curled up at the foot of the bed after a long day of play. Of course it didn't hurt that this puppy had the palest gray eyes Dylan had ever seen - a color almost like ice yet somehow warm.
Dylan stepped softly into the room and joined Perry at the marble table by the window where he stood, gently - almost meditatively - pushing the king's immense gold bracelets back and forth across the smooth stone surface. For many years, Gluttonian kings had stood at this table and feasted their way to immensity and oblivion. Now, as it had been so many times before, only the bracelets remained. Dylan was about to ask how he'd gotten them, but the slight lightening of the sky told the tale - it looked to be almost dawn, and the feasting and rioting must be over. No doubt Perry, as was his habit, had been the last to leave the ceremonial hall as the rioters drifted off to sleep or left for the security of their own homes. Even the dogs would have been too sated and tired after the day's events to have noticed as Perry picked the gold bracelets out of the firepit's embers and slipped away. Dylan's hands joined Perry's on the bracelets and brought them to a stop at the edge of the table. Looking into the pale gray eyes, Dylan slipped one of the bracelets onto Perry's wrist, then the other onto his own. Perry's eye's crinkled with laughter, but he made no sound; just a whisper:
"We're too skinny for these!" Too true. Dylan was about to ask why he was whispering as Perry glanced over at the bed across the room. Dylan's eyes followed along and he saw that they were not alone. But Perry wasn't out of surprises yet. He led Dylan over to the bed and carefully pulled back the covers as if unveiling a masterpiece. Which, in a way, he was... Dylan was stunned to recognize the sleeping man as Marcus, one of the Favorites. Now, perhaps, the only Favorite left. Dylan had seen and heard enough of them marched down the corridor that he'd stopped mentally checking them off, assuming they'd all be found and eaten by the rioting mob. He was happy to be wrong as he surveyed Marcus' sleeping form, sprawled luxuriously across the sheets, sleeping as soundly as if this were just another night. Marcus, like Paolo, had a build that tended strongly toward muscularity, so he'd gained less and more slowly than the others but was beautifully shaped to show for his efforts. His smooth brown skin glowed in the golden light of the oil lamp by the bed.
"He's the one who should be wearing these," Dylan whispered as their eyes swept the handsome sleeping form before them, "But an overfed Favorite wearing the royal cuffs would be in a lot of trouble if the wrong person walked in..." He took the bracelet from Perrry, slipping off his own as he walked toward the marble table by the window. He heard a faint rustle of bedding behind him, and turned to see that Perry had sat down on the edge of the bed and was running his slender hands over Marcus' heavy thighs, spread wide and inviting. The story of how he'd hidden his finely fleshed friend and how they'd found refuge in the King's bedchamber would have to wait. The room was distinctly brighter now as Dylan set the the bracelets on the table with a soft clank. They seemed innocent enough as they sat there, glinting in the cool light. But of course, they came with a catch...
Behind him, Dylan could hear that Marcus was now awake, and apparently enjoying himself immensely. It sounded like the attentiveness that characterized Perry's work in the palace was reflected in his other activities as well. The appeal of a few more hours of darkness drew Dylan around the table to the tapestry that hung in heavy folds to one side of the window, for those occasions when even the best view in the kingdom wasn't enough. Maybe it didn't have to be morning just yet... He couldn't decide if he needed to sleep or didn't dare to, not knowing what might happen next. He paused for a moment at the window as he reached for the edge of the curtain and looked out over the rooftops of the palace to the countryside beyond, as if it were possible to tell what the day had in store simply by looking out at it, and then pulled the heavy tapestry over the window, as if it were possible to keep the day at bay simply by covering it up. Neither, he knew, was true, but it would have to do for now.