Be warned
This story will contain: slash, twincest, threesome. If any or all of these squick you, I invite you to hit the back button.

Panacea
prologue

They had to drag him, kicking and scratching and sometimes biting. It was an unexpected reaction in the small prince, and it was clear that the guards, who had only been meant to escort Denton Tier Cabreia to the grand hall, had not yet recovered from their shock over this new and unusual occurrence. He had managed to escape their hold three times, forcing them to call in another three guards to help detain him and bring him to the audience with his brother.

Denton smirked, the action hidden by the hood of his cape, which one of the guards had hastily thrown over his face before they had entered the hall, and despite the sting in his cheek from where another guard had smacked him. It had been most pleasing to the see the disbelief on the guards' faces when he had refused Dalton's summons. He had known he had no chance of actually avoiding it, but the opportunity to deny his brother, to stand up for himself for once, had been too much to resist. It had been an extra bonus when he was able to escape and elude the guards' grasp for a time.

The sore, wincing expressions the guards were trying so hard to hide and the anger Dalton was making no effort to hide made whatever injuries he had accrued in the short trip through the castle more than worth it.

Dalton had been forced to wait near a half hour for his accursed little brother to appear before him. Dalton hated to be held up. Especially for his worthless, insignificant brother.

Good thing Denton had ceased to concern himself over his brother's wants and demands. There had been a time, only a few short months ago when he would have scrambled to see to Dalton's wishes. When he would have given anything to avoid or just soften the blows of either Dalton's words or fists—whichever Dalton happened to be in the mood for. Often he had tripped over himself in his haste, so fretful that he would displease his brother and earn even harsher rebuke.

Always it had resulted in laughter from those in attendance, disdain from his brother. Always he had been contrite and shamed. Always he had submitted to his brother's small tortures and accepted the ridicule he understood himself to be deserving of.

But no longer. He had learned some things about himself these past few months. There was strength inside him. There was beauty and love, too. He was intelligent and clever. He did not lack grace. He could do anything he put his thoughts and will to. He was wanted and desired and loved.

He had value.

And by god, he would not spend another moment being dragged through the dirt by his brother and his court.

Gasps of outrage and disdain, muttered insults, haughty sniffs, and tittering laughter followed Denton as he was carried unceremoniously through the overlarge, gilt-framed doors and down the bright scarlet carpet to the dais where the king's throne sat. Dalton was already there, impatiently tapping his fingers against the padded, dark-stained wood of the arm. Denton was thrown to his knees on the coarse carpet before the dais, only just keeping his head from hitting the edge of the raised floor.

More snickers and laughter followed this. Watching the abuse of the king's younger brother was a favorite pastime of many of the lords and ladies in the castle.

Denton began to lift himself gently from his sprawl. The pain might be worth it, but that did not mean it did not still hurt. Someone amongst the audience guffawed, the shrill barking sound of it reminding Denton of the pigs that rolled and played in the dirt and muck in a holding below his tower window just outside the castle walls.

The laughter continued as he adjusted himself to kneel prostrate before his brother, but it quickly died, faded into shuddering silence as Denton lifted himself fully from the floor and stood up squarely with his shoulders back and his chin up. A collective, horrified gasp followed when he reached up a hand to pull back the hood and reveal his face.

Denton ignored the horrified cries. He would not be made to feel shame. No longer.

"Silence!" Dalton roared, sitting up straighter in his throne. The room immediately stilled. He turned furious eyes to Denton, but Denton did not cower, as once he would have. He only raised his head higher, meeting Dalton's rage with his own calm.

"You are made quite bold, little brother." His eyes narrowed menacingly. "I wonder what would inspire such a mouse as you."

"I am no mouse." Not any more.

"Then you are a lion, I suppose? Come to impress us with your courage?" Dalton mocked, eyes glittering with malice. "Do you jump through flaming hoops, I wonder."

"I am no spectacle to amuse your fools."

Dalton arched an eyebrow, disdainful sneer twisting his lips. "Perhaps then, little brother, you have not recently visited a mirror. You are naught but a spectacle." Dalton gave a short wave of his fingers.

Denton had spent too long suffering at Dalton's hands not to know what was coming next. One of the guards behind him moved, and then Denton felt the familiar flutter against his skin and inside him as the guard threw a spell at him. It would be a minor one; they had never needed to waste the energy of the more powerful against him. Not unless they were feeling particularly vindictive.

Too many years of suffering their tortures had taught him the reactions they expected—relied upon—for their amusement, and for the time being, he let them have their way. On cue, he flinched back and stumbled to the side, seeming barely able to keep himself standing. Laughter echoed throughout the hall.

Another flutter ghosted along the back of his neck. Denton feigned a shudder and pitched forward, dropping to his knees and throwing an arm out as though he had only just managed to keep himself up and avoid falling to the floor completely.

More of the sensations crawled along his back and chest as the laughter spilled over him, and this time, Denton found it hard to hide a smirk of his own.

They did not know about the lining Toivo had sewn into his cape, nor the jewels Usko had painstakingly fashioned for his ears. Their magic could no longer touch him.

He could see Dalton watching with thinly veiled amusement as Denton pretended to struggle and resist the effects of the spell he had been hit with. He curled in on himself, huddling in a ball on the floor before the dais, appearing to shield himself from the bulk of the spells being thrown at him. It was sickening the ease with which the movements came to him, his body so used to making them.

It was minutes more before Dalton raised a hand to signal a halt. When Denton had stilled, Dalton held a hand again for silence. The laughter died immediately. Dalton's eyes glittered darkly with contempt and disgust as he glared through narrowed eyes at Denton. "You will not challenge me again, little brother."

"No, my Lord." It was too easy to sound meek, to insert the small note of pleading, begging a reprieve from any more pain. Denton's insides twisted to realize how pathetic he once had been.

"Good." Dalton sat back with a satisfied smirk, fingers resuming their tapping against the arm of the throne. "Cover your face; you will not shame me in my court. And you will show proper respect when in my presence."

"Yes, my Lord." Denton spoke quietly. He ducked his head and pulled the hood of his cape back up, convincing all those around him of his weakness.

Dalton gave a slight nod, seeming satisfied for the moment with his now docile brother. "Now then, little brother," he sat forward again, a deceptively calm expression settling on his face, "it has come to my attention that my castle is less two guests." There was a clear warning written in the steel of his voice, "Would you happen to know anything about this?"

"Don't you mean prisoners, Brother?" His tone was soft but, he knew Dalton heard the challenge in it.

There was a long stretch of angry silence, and when Dalton spoke again, his voice was laced with derision and revulsion. "I suppose having to spend any time in your presence would seem a special torture."

"I do not doubt your intent."

Dalton released an angry, frustrated shout and slammed a fist into the arm of his throne. The sound reverberated throughout the entire hall. "Do not try my patience this day, little brother! Where are they?!"

Denton raised his head, knowing Dalton could see through the shadows cast by his hood. That he could see his smile and the lack of fear. "I sent them home."

His brother's eyes widened at his taunting tone. At the challenge he knew was written in his eyes. Dalton stood up and walked slowly, deliberately to stand before Denton. Reaching down, he grabbed Denton's chin in a hard, bruising grip, forcing Denton to look directly at him, becoming more furious when Denton gave no reaction. Did not cower or flinch away.

"Defiance does not suite you, little brother."

"I've found that your abuses suite me even less."

"My abuses?" There was no humor behind Dalton's smile. His fingers pressed painfully into Denton's chin. "Before I am done with you, little brother, you will know just how kind I have been. And then you will beg for a return to those… abuses."

And Dalton raised a fist…