Chapter 2: Anes of the Red-Light District
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Hamza hasn’t bathed in hot water for a long time.
He washed very slowly. After soaking in the pool for a long time, he almost took a nap. He tried all the perfumes and soaps by the bath. When he was about to leave, he found that Anes had not prepared any clothes for him. Obviously, it was not suitable to wear dirty clothes and the black cloak so he walked out naked.
The glass lampstands were extinguished, only a few candles were left on the cupboard, and the room fell into a dark and warm atmosphere. Anes’s bed faced the bathroom, hidden behind three layers of transparent gauze curtains. Anes was not by the bed.
Hamza, still slightly wet, sat on the low bed, and breathed a sigh of relief. He curiously rummaged through the bedding and found that the bed had no frame. The bottom of the bed was a broad and thick mattress, which was covered with another three layers of cotton mattresses. On the top of the cotton mattress were two fine velvet blankets, and the top layer a light champagne silk sheet and a pile of fluffy cushions and pillows. The smoke-like gauze curtains hung from the ceiling, from the inside out, they were white and smelled like lavender.
While in the arena, Hamza slept on boards covered with blankets, which was good enough for slaves. Now, sitting in such a soft bed, he had an indescribable sense of panic.
After a while, Anes came back. He carried a small candlestick and changed his robe into a dark-rose silk covering his whole body.
“It’s an aromatherapy candle.” He placed the candlestick on the wooden stand at the head of the bed. “It can help you relax. Don’t worry. It’s not a some sex drugs, it’s not addictive.”
After that, he climbs to the middle of the bed and looks back and forth at Hamza with appreciative eyes. Hamza is naked, and Anes is still wrapped in a shawl. The atmosphere is ambiguous enough, but Hamza doesn’t know how to start.
Anes hooks his finger at him, “Come here a little bit. Before I start, I’ll tell you something.”
Hamza obediently climbs over and kneels in front of Anes. Anes’ legs were hidden in the silk, showing only the slender and beautiful feet and ankles, which were close to Hamza’s wrist, and made him fall into a little trance for a moment.
“The reason I didn’t undress was to give you time to prepare yourself mentally,” Anes said. “You said this will be your first time with a man. I’m worried you won’t be able to accept it. Some people feel sick just by looking at a man’s body.”
“I do not.” Hamza said.
“That’s fine. One more thing, I have a lot of scars on me. You saw a lot of girls and guys downstairs, their skin is as smooth as amber, but I’m different. Now I don’t receive guests anymore. Even my old acquaintances, I don’t receive them. Not only do I not want to, but they also are not interested in me. Do you know why? Don’t be scared because I’m not pleasant looking.”
“How could it be…” was what Hamza wanted to say, how could that be true? I see your figure through your clothes. How could your body look bad? But he didn’t say that. “I make a living by fighting, how can I be afraid of scars,” he said instead.
“All right.” Anes nodded with satisfaction. He changed to a kneeling position and shook off his silk.
Though prepared, Hamza was surprised.
There were too many scars on his body. No wonder he was wearing a small-collar robe with a tight collar.
There were two ferocious scars on his clavicles, ones that looked like his shoulder had been torn and stabbed through, and his abdomen is scattered with whips and burns of different sizes. It could be estimated that the situation behind him was not much better. The scars extended to his legs and even to his private parts.
Hamza had seen a lot of injuries, and could vaguely infer the shape of the tools of torture. There were several kinds made from whips on Anes, among which the most obvious injuries were left by special punishment whips. It was not a small whip of noble taste, but rough and heavy. It could tear skin with one whip. The strongest of men shivers at the sight of it. Once upon a time, a gladiator slave hurt his master and tried to escape, he was caught in his cell and soon was killed by this thing.
Anes was tall and slender, with a thin frame, he did not have a warrior’s physique at all. Hazma didn’t know how he survived such torture.
Seeing Hamza’s eyes, Anes sighed, “If you feel sick, let’s put out a few more candles… or put them out completely.”
He wanted to get up, but Hamza grabbed his wrist. The bed was so soft that he fell on the dark rose silk and lay right next to him. Hamza looked straight at him; he’s like honey on a rose petal.
“Let’s get started.” Anes smiles, reached behind Hamza’s head and gently guided him to lean over, “Just do as you’re used to, don’t think too much.”
Hamza was close to him, their chests almost sticking together. Hamza was aware that his heart rate was too fast. He wondered if Anes could feel it.
“Aren’t you going to teach me the adult’s preferences?”
“I won’t for the first time, I’ll try to see how far you can do it. If I nag, in case you don’t get it up, then you’ll be in trouble in the future. In the future, we will communicate many times and I’ll teach you.”
This room was too quiet. But Hamza couldn’t hear the night wind moving the leaves, not even the music and laughter downstairs. All he could hear was his breathing, and the little rustling of the fabric on the bed.
As the moon rose to the middle of the sky, the clouds began to thicken. The candle became shorter and shorter until it burned out and no one changed it. The room without candles and moonlight grew darker and deeper, and fell into a deep sleep with the whole city.
At dawn, Hamza wakes up. He wakes up at this time every day, even if he went to bed late yesterday. When he woke up, the first clear thought in his mind was: what caused the scars on Anes?
He looked sideways at Anes, who was sleeping on his stomach with a cushion, his bruised back sticking out of the sheet. Hamza didn’t ask about the scar all the way yesterday. If Anes didn’t take the initiative to tell, then he shouldn’t ask.
Hamza hadn’t done this for a long time. Last night was a rare night for him. Now on second thoughts, he was not satisfied with his performance. Of course, he didn’t think so during the act, but when it was over, he realized something was wrong.
A long time ago, when he was at the Cantari border, Hamza knew a miner slave who had been married twice. The first wife died, and the second was taken to the plantation to work as a slave laborer. The couple did not meet for several months. He often talked about men and women to the young men around him, so he won everyone’s inexplicable respect. He taught young men how to seduce and conquer virgins and told them a lot of embarrassing things about their newlyweds. Hamza didn’t participate much in the conversation, but he listened carefully every time. He had a little experience. He had seen a few ‘dew couples’1 several times, but at best, it was just two losers who were satisfying each other, and had nothing to do with the passion and likes of newlyweds.
The old miner talked about how to treat virgins and how to indulge his happy first wife. Last night, Hamza remembered those skills and tried to follow them. But things didn’t go as well as he expected, because people forget a lot when they are excited. At first he was able to perform as well as he could, and then he gradually lost his mind. What’s more, he slept with a man yesterday, men and women are always different. He didn’t know whether he had hurt Anes, let alone whether Anes was comfortable in the end.
Hamza lay on his back thinking until it was light outside. Normally by this time, he would already have had breakfast and went out to practice. Now his stomach was growling with hunger, but Anes was still sleeping soundly and had no intention of waking up. Hamza crept out of bed and found a dish of fruit and a pot of lime water on the low table.
When the sun was shining all over the terrace, someone finally brought decent food. The boy who came to deliver the food was a young boy, about thirteen or fourteen years old. He lacked one ear, his face was pockmarked, and his nose was so flat that only two holes were left.
He was a little afraid of Hamza, so he put down the tray and left in a hurry. There were scones, honey, almonds, and a little bacon in the tray. There were two portions of each, the amount was not enough. It seemed that he could not eat enough and the aroma was quite attractive.
After Hamza finished his meal, Anes finally got up. He looked at the plate, yawned and walked into the bathroom.
Hamza was in a state of confusion and didn’t know how to talk to Anes.
It turned out that his troubles were unnecessary. Coming out of the bathroom, Anes regained his look last night. He was eating and chatting with Hamza. From the smell of scones to smuggling spices, Anes seemed to have a magical ability to make all conversations happen naturally.
Like close friends, they sat on the ground at a low table, chatting about meaningless topics, and guarding the sunshine on the terrace an elbow away.
In the afternoon, Anes had to deal with a lot of purchasing and accounting problems, so Hamza could do whatever he wanted, as long as he doesn’t come back too late at night because they have “the next class “in the evening.
It was only then that Anes first mentioned last night, but he did not comment on Hamza’s performance. Hamza didn’t ask. He was used to obedience and not to be curious.
Throughout the afternoon and the evening, Hamza did not leave the room. He spent most of his time exercising on the terrace, using the long-handled brush in the bathroom as a weapon and practicing his fighting movements repeatedly. It may be stupid, but no one will see it.
In the evening, guests arrive at the Golden Bough hotel one after another, and the quiet courtyard in the daytime becomes more and more lively. Hamza went to the bathroom to wash off the sweat of the day and ate the dinner brought by the waiter, but Anes didn’t come back. Hamza went to bed soon after dinner, whilst Anes’ night had just begun.
At about the same time as yesterday, Anes finally came back. He said that he didn’t mean to be so late. Recently, he’s teaching a new foreign girl, which was very troublesome. She didn’t speak Bola very well, and was very stubborn. So he had to teach her to please the guests and also as a language teacher.
Hamza couldn’t help but ask, “In that case, why should she do this?”
Anes leaned against a pile of cushions, lazily holding the sweet wine, “It’s not so simple. If she doesn’t do this, she’s going to die. Indeed, some people would rather die. But if she doesn’t want to die, she wants to live, that’s the only way to live.”
“Can’t she be a servant?”
“Did you see Raf? He’s the ugly kid with one ear missing. If you take a closer look, people who do rough work here are people like Raf. They are either flawed, extremely ugly, or old and wrinkled. Don’t you understand why?”
Hamza shook his head. “If a beautiful beauty is allowed to be a servant, her final fate is no different from that of a prostitute, maybe even worse than a prostitute. Those boys and girls should not only learn to serve people but also learn singing, dancing, and magic. As long as the guests can appreciate them, they can eat less and earn more. And servants? If the servant has a good face, he will be used all night. If he meets a reasonable guest, he may lose some small money to him. It’s not like coming to learn singing and dancing with me and serving people.”
Hamza didn’t speak for a long time. When Anes was halfway there, he understood.
Anes drank up the wine, got out of bed, sat down in front of Hamza and said, “Well, I have business to talk to you about.”
Hearing this, Hamza unconsciously sat a little straighter. When Anes saw it, he couldn’t help laughing.
“You’re very good. You’re the type Ilfayi will like,” Anes said. “I didn’t coach you yesterday because I wanted to know what you like to do first. You have to maintain your style and pay attention to Ilfayi’s preferences on this basis. Do you know what I mean? Maintain your true self, and then work on the details so that he can like it. If you’re pretending, he can see it.”
Hamza thought for a moment: “I- yesterday…was it too…”
“Too rough? Actually not really,” Anes said, “you’re in good shape. A little shy, a little worried, but very eager, very active. That’s right. You imagined that you are the man who married for the first time, and you have married a woman you have loved for many years. On the wedding night, you have no bottom in your heart, and you are passionate about her.”
Hamza nodded vaguely. Last night he really felt like a man on his wedding night, and in the morning he had just thought of this example.
“Ilfayi likes you like that;” Anes said. “when your eyes are a little confused, a little fierce, ones that not only want to act on him quickly, but also take care of his feelings. The lower part of the body can have an appropriate roughness, the upper part should be full of love. You have to keep it that way.”
Hamza murmured, “I thought nobles would prefer complete obedience…”
“No, he wants more intense love than obedience. By the way, I don’t mean to let you mess around. You should look excited, but keep his preferences in mind, so that things can go as they are. I’ll teach you slowly.”