Here’s the first chapter of The Blacksmith’s Apprentice, a new yaoi novelette by Lee Lane Lamplight!
The streets of Tamworth were alive, and Stuckey feared he would soon be dead. There were several threats on his life right now. He was tired and cold and hungry, just to name three examples. But the most important immediate threat was the man with a knife, demanding his shoes.
Stuckey did not want to give up his shoes. He would catch his death of cold for sure. He didn’t have any money or anything else he could give the mugger instead.
“C’mon, mate, hand ‘em over,” said the mugger.
Stuckey felt tears roll down his cheek. This was not how he thought it would end. When his parents died a few years ago, he thought he was free — his father had been a tyrant, and a heavy drinker, for a long time — and he felt like the world was his oyster. Stuckey could go anywhere or do anything.
He soon learned, however, that that wasn’t true. No one’s options were more limited than the man who had nothing. Stuckey was only fourteen when his parents died, and he was eighteen now, a man by Mercian standards. Finding a place to sleep and enough food and water to survive took all day, and sometimes all night. Stuckey had no time for adventures, or to improve himself by finding an apprenticeship, nor even to woo a woman (not that Stuckey had any interest in women; he had simply never developed that way, for reasons he didn’t understand).
“I… I can’t give you my shoes, sir, I am already so cold-“
“I don’t care, hand them over, mate, or I’m gonna stab your heart out,” the mugger said through slitted teeth. He advanced on Stuckey, knife drawn.
Stuckey screamed. People often said he screamed like a girl, but there was nothing he could do about that, especially now. He was too scared to act macho. He squealed and stepped away.
“Please! I don’t have anything! My shoes are threadbare!”
“Hand them over, and I will inspect them. Or maybe I shan’t stab you, maybe I shall cut your feet off. I can laugh as you stumble on bloody stumps,” the mugger said with a guffaw. He smiled sickly at Stuckey.
And then he collapsed onto the ground in a limp heap. His neck was broken. Standing behind him was a tall, broad-shouldered man in a sleeveless tunic — not a real sleeveless tunic, but a normal tunic whose sleeves had been ripped off over time. His tunic barely covered his strapping chest either, because it was torn and scorched. He glanced at Stuckey, grunted and took one step away, then came back and looked at him again.
“Hi,” Stuckey said. This man made him nervous because he was so big. At more than six feet tall and maybe seventeen stone, if not more, he was a massive hulking giant of a man. He had a few burn scars over his neck and shoulders, and even on the side of his face.
He nodded at Stuckey. He seemed to be torn, like he wanted to walk away, but at the same time, didn’t want to leave.
“Thanks,” Stuckey said. “He was… He was going to kill me, I think. Even if I gave him my shoes…” He blinked back tears. “I would have died anyway. It is cold tonight. I can not be without shoes.”
“You have your shoes.”
“Yes, yes, thank you. I have them because of you,” Stuckey said. He wished he wasn’t crying. He looked like such a weakling most of the time. He wasn’t really that weak, he just cried a lot when he was upset or scared or even angry. People often assumed he was feminine in nature. They weren’t wrong, but he still didn’t like the assumption.
“You are… How old are you?” the man asked. His voice was achingly deep, so low it made Stuckey’s bones rattle.
“I am eighteen. My name is Stuckey.”
He grunted. “John. Big John.” He frowned. “You… You are too old to be an apprentice.”
“Yes, I know-“
“Be quiet.” He furrowed his brow. “But I will allow you to be my apprentice. I like the way you look. You look like a girl, but you have arms like a man. That is good.”
“Oh. John, okay, I see… I, uh… What do you do?”
“I’m a blacksmith,” he said. “Come. Or do not.” He turned around and left without waiting for another response.
Stuckey hesitated. He had long hoped he could get some sort of apprenticeship, but everyone considered him too old — apprenticeships were supposed to begin at around thirteen years of age, not eighteen. By now, Stuckey was already expected to have begun his adult life and family. He should be striking out on his own, not only just now finding an apprenticeship.
And he had no aptitude for blacksmithing. Stuckey knew nothing about it. He didn’t think his arms were as impressive as Big John did, though he did recognize that his arms were more muscular than the rest of his body. That was because Stuckey’s late father had always demanded he exercise his body, and the exercises he focused on the most were always based on improving his arm strength, so he could swing a sword. Every time Stuckey felt cold and lonely, he exercised and remembered how glad he was to be rid of his father.
Of course there was no question. When Stuckey saw Big John walking away, he saw all of his options disappearing — or rather, his only option, walking away, leaving him behind to freeze to death.
So he followed. “Thanks, uh, Big John. I really… I’ve been living in the woods, and in the streets, uh… for a long time.” Stuckey’s voice trailed off because it wasn’t clear whether or not Big John was listening.
So Stuckey walked the rest of the way in silence. He was entranced by the sight of Big John’s hefty muscles shifting as he walked, as though he was too tired to carry his own body. He finally reached his smithy, a small hut on the outskirts of Tamworth, well away from other structures so it wouldn’t cause a conflagration if it caught flame.
It was a one-room hut, with one door, one forge, one hearth, one straw bed that looked barely big enough for Big John by himself. So, it seemed, Stuckey was going to be sleeping on the floor.
Oh well, I’ve slept in the rough before.
He quietly sat down, while Big John checked on his forge. He explained that he kept it warm all the time. Even when it wasn’t in use, it was easier to keep embers going then to restart the forge from scratch every time he needed to. Making it hot enough to forge iron required substantial time and energy. Starting from cold was very difficult.
“But we will do no work tonight. It is almost nightfall,” Big John said after explaining Stuckey’s responsibilities. It was already too dark to do anything significant. Stuckey wanted to seem useful, so he swept up the floor and picked up the strewing herbs that had been strewn eons ago. They were now good for nothing but some extra fuel for the fire.
Soon Big John was stripped to his breeches, which were threadbare and filthy. They barely covered up his bulging manhood. Stuckey had trouble taking his eyes from it. He wanted a taste so bad he drooled a little.
But he didn’t think Big John would allow anything like that. Big macho men like him rarely tolerated men like Stuckey. Stuckey remained convinced that this was only a temporary arrangement — Big John would not allow a “lavender” man to work for him. Once he found out what Stuckey was, Stuckey would be back out on the streets.
“Can I… rub your shoulders, Big John?” Stuckey said. He didn’t wait for a response, knowing that large men like him would be reluctant to ask for succor. So Stuckey just planted his hands on Big John’s shoulders and rubbed them.
His muscles were bigger than anyone Stuckey had ever seen. Touching him was even more impressive than looking at him, because his shoulders were scorching hot like the forge, tingling, firm like iron after it was forged. His muscles bulged and pulsated beneath Stuckey’s fingertips.
“There are… other duties,” Big John said. He bit his lip and groaned, the first real expression of emotion he had made since Stuckey met him. Big John sighed. “There are other duties that are expected of an apprentice. Some masters force their apprentices to… do certain things. I do not require you to behave in that manner.”
“Oh…” Stuckey had a feeling he knew what “other duties” were, and they had nothing to do with blacksmithing. Stuckey wanted to do it more than anything, but now that the possibility was before him, Stuckey wanted to not do it just as bad.
He wanted to touch and lick and feel every inch of Big John’s muscles. But if he did it now, he would be seen as a man of loose morals. He would be the kind of man who does those things in exchange for a place to sleep. He would be little better than a prostitute. Even just waiting one day would prove that he didn’t need to do it, and Stuckey wanted very badly to not need it.
“Well then I will just rub your shoulders,” Stuckey said, “until you are ready for bed. I shall sleep on the floor.”
A long awkward silence filled the air, while Stuckey massaged the meat of Big John’s shoulder. Finally Big John snorted and grunted. “Fine. Yes. You will just rub my shoulders. I do not require anything else of my apprentice.” He stood and went to his bed. Since he didn’t wait for Stuckey to finish the massage, he knocked Stuckey over when he stood.
“Oh. I guess that’s it. Alright. Well, good night. Thanks again, for taking me in.”
“I do not require anything of you at night.” He paused. “I am not that kind of master. It is your choice.” It looked like wanted desperately for Stuckey to make a particular choice.
“Yes.” Stuckey smiled. “I am glad that it is my choice. I shall sleep on the floor.”
He bristled. “Fine.” He got down on his bunk and sprawled out the best he could in the tiny space he had available. His eyes closed.
Stuckey sat there watching him for a long time. Big John seemed to fall asleep almost right away. Stuckey was too scared to offend him to check if he was really asleep or not.
Eventually Stuckey drifted off into a fitless sleep by himself there on the floor. He didn’t have any blankets and he didn’t ask for any from Big John. He was close enough to the forge that it wasn’t very cold, though the floor of the smithy’s hut was quite chilly. It was still warmer than sleeping outside.
Stuckey woke up around dawn. There was a blanket over him, Big John must have placed it there in the night. Stuckey sat up. He always woke up at dawn. When you lived on the streets of Tamworth, it was always wise to be awake when the sun was up. Of course, it was wise to be awake when the sun was down too.
Big John’s giant chest rattled as he breathed deeply in his sleep. He had no blanket, but he was a big man, well-insulated, and he was up higher on his bed, so he was not as cold. He did look chilly though. He had draped his tunic over his body. His muscles quivered.
Stuckey sat on the edge of his bunk. He hadn’t decided to do anything yet, not until this moment. When his fingers touched Big John’s thick warm bicep, Stuckey knew what he wanted to do. He draped the warm woolen blanket over John’s body, then Stuckey climbed under it as well.
Big John stirred. The bunk was much too small for two people to be separate on it, but Stuckey didn’t want them to be separate. Big John’s flesh was chilled, and the air outside the blanket was cold. But beneath the blanket, the air was warm, and heating up fast.
Stuckey gently rubbed Big John’s chest with one hand, while his other hand roamed down to his belly.
His cock twitched as soon as Stuckey touched it. It throbbed in his hand, and Stuckey let out a little moan. He didn’t know what Big John wanted from him, so he kept it slow and gentle. He stroked Big John’s massive body, criss-crossed with scars, as though it was delicate and easily broken. He used light fingers and a soft touch, teasing and caressing his manhood.
Finally it was clear that Big John was awake, but his eyes were still closed like he wanted to pretend he was asleep. Stuckey moaned a little, quietly, his free hand massaging Big John’s chest muscles. They were tense like a statue at first, but they relaxed and smoothed as Stuckey massaged him.
Both men’s breathing grew ragged and irregular. Stuckey tasted a few beads of fresh sweat that collected on Big John’s arm. He was glad he had waited until this morning — it was better now, since both he and Big John knew it was happening because they both wanted it, not because Stuckey was told to do it. All of Big John’s muscles tensed into rigid, firm blocks of unyielding flesh.
At last a long, low rumbling moan escaped from Big John’s lips. Big John’s massive arm snaked up and grabbed Stuckey by the head. He didn’t force anything, but he did pull Stuckey up so they could kiss. Still, Big John’s eyes were closed. Their lips collided, tongues teasing each other in Big John’s cavernous mouth.
Hot juices flew from his cock and sprayed over his chest and belly. Stuckey’s mouth traveled down Big John’s face and chin, until he got to his chest. He licked every drop of Big John’s salty manhood off his quivering muscles, while Big John moaned and grunted beneath his touch.
When he was done, Big John again pretended to be sound asleep. Stuckey didn’t mind. He enjoyed nuzzling Big John’s muscles as he settled into the tiny bed. He clutched Big John’s body for support since he was right on the edge of the bed. He felt safe. For the first time since his parents died, Stuckey felt safe and secure.
And he slept. Again it was a first since his parent’s death, his first real calming sleep. He didn’t just doze, he slept and he rested and he recovered, and he awoke refreshed, basking in the clean sweat and warm glow of Big John’s body.
By then Big John was awake, but he hadn’t moved, not wanting to awaken Stuckey. So Stuckey had fallen asleep cuddling with Big John who pretended to be asleep, and he awoke to Big John laying quietly as though he was asleep.
“Good. You are awake. It is time for work to begin.”