A World Made Up of Silver and Copper

by shukyou (主教)
illustrated by 2013

“What in Hell’s name happened to you?” Ram asked, or tried to ask, because his mouth had several orange slices in it. It was not the right time of year for oranges, and they were still slightly green and sour, but to Ram’s way of thinking, out-of-season oranges were better than no oranges. Even at his wealthiest moments — the ones that happened right before the rent and other bills came due — Ram couldn’t have afforded a single orange.

Prince Ankhbayar had oranges brought to him whether he liked them or not. He had little piles of oranges in silver dishes around his room, some of them literally collecting dust. Ram had eaten eight of them earlier that evening, and only stopped himself then for fear of making himself sick. Then he’d decided that nine was as good of a number as eight, and had been in the middle of that ninth when Prince Ankhbayar had staggered through the door, looking like he’d just been caught in a hurricane. One of his shoes — Ram’s shoes, more to the point — was untied, and all his shirt buttons — again, Ram’s — were in the wrong buttonholes. Half of his soft black hair was sticking out from his head at an odd angle.

And that was all before Ram saw the bruising around the prince’s neck, where the collar of his — Ram’s — shirt hadn’t been fastened fully again. Ram swallowed his mouthful as fast as he could, not even tasting the sour bite of the fruit. “Were you attacked?” he asked, this time able to make the words clear.

“No, I–” Prince Ankhbayar cleared his throat and slicked his hair back with his fingers, which just made the problem worse. “I’m fine, I’m fine, it’s…” He cleared his throat a second time, and then a third. Ram wanted to tell him it didn’t get much clearer than that. “Anyway, you should be getting back now.” Prince Ankhbayar began to unbutton Ram’s shirt to give back to him, only to get visibly confused a button or two in when things weren’t lining up the way he’d expected.

Ram looked over to the tall grandfather clock on the far wall, the one that showed four minutes to two in the morning, then back to Prince Ankhbayar, who seemed to have given up halfway through untying the other shoe, and was now slumped in an expensive chair, looking more than a little dazed. With his shirt unbuttoned to Prince Ankhbayar’s navel, Ram could see that the bruises continued down his royal chest toward his belly. Only they weren’t the kind of bruises someone got from a fight. They were the kind of bruises one tended to accumulate by doing something that could have been a lot more fun than getting punched, or a lot less.

“Okay, stop,” Ram said, even though Prince Ankhbayar wasn’t doing anything at the moment. It was a more holistic command. “I’m not leaving until you tell me what happened.”

Prince Ankhbayar’s eyes widened with fear. “If you’re caught here, you’ll be executed.”

If they got caught doing any part of what they were doing, Ram would get executed, and Prince Ankhbayar would have happen to him whatever happened to misbehaving sixth sons of the King, ones far down enough in the line of succession to have no hope of taking the throne, but still enough in the public eye to make the papers every so often. Ram had been barely three years old when Prince Ankhbayar had been born, and he could still remember all the festivities, the incredible fuss that had been made about the first royal birth in a decade. 

Now here Ram was all these years later, sitting on the edge of Prince Ankhbayar’s bed, wearing Prince Ankhbayar’s clothes, eating Prince Ankhbayar’s oranges, and wondering just what the hell Prince Ankhbayar had been doing all evening while he was out in the city wearing Ram’s shirt and Ram’s pants and Ram’s hairstyle and everything else that went with Ram’s life. Sometimes the world was a funny place.

Ram folded his arms across his chest. “Look, just tell me, am I going to get jumped when I go back out there?”

“What?” Prince Ankhbayar looked startled at the accusation. “No! No. I promise.”

“Then what?”

Prince Ankhbayar took a deep, slow breath and let it out through pursed lips. “Don’t be mad.”

Ram peered over the tops of his — Prince Ankhbayar’s — glasses with a look he hoped said that he would make absolutely no promises to that effect.


“Fine! I won’t be mad. Okay?”

“Okay.” Prince Ankhbayar drew in another deep breath, and this time, when he let it out, he began to speak.




He didn’t hate being a prince. He’d be stupid to hate being a prince. There were way too many good things about it, especially when one was not only a prince, but the youngest prince, the baby of the family, doted on by everyone and feared by none. He threatened no one’s claim to the throne, nor did he engage in any behavior that would lead to negative headlines or gossip. No one expected much of him, and everyone forgave him his shortcomings. He knew how many people in his very own family might have killed, literally, for such a position.

But sometimes it was just … a lot. It wasn’t even one thing or another, not really. It was just together, all of it, a lot.

Which was why Ankhbayar was not a prince tonight, or at least not as far as anyone could tell by looking at him. Tonight he was just one of the hundreds, maybe even thousands crowding the evening streets, milling about through the early celebrations of the Harvest Festival. The week-long celebration was going to be even larger this year, seeing as the end of coincided with the youngest prince’s coming-of-age ceremony, which would be conducted on the central temple grounds and broadcast to radios all over the city. It would be the event of the season, if not the entire year. There would be a grand ball, and speeches, and guests from all over, and … it would be a lot.

Ankhbayar made his way through the main streets, his cap pulled down low across his forehead. Without his glasses, everything at a distance was blurry suggestions of shapes, hints of faces and shadows of writing on distant signs. Still, he couldn’t have risked them — they were perhaps his most identifiable accessory, gold-rimmed and exquisite. He wore them in all his portraits, including the one that had been turned into posters announcing the end-of-week ceremony, which seemed to have been plastered on every available surface in the city. He stood as far away as he could from one while he waited at the streetcar stop, hoping no one would see both faces in the gaslight glow and make the connection.

Not that it would matter if they did. What would they think? Surely nothing worth alerting the authorities. After all, Ram walked around the city like this all the time, with nearly the same face, and no one gave him trouble for it. There were just sometimes people in the world who kind of looked alike. That was all.

When the streetcar pulled up, ringing its little bell, Ankhbayar hopped on, tossed his fare in, and made his way to the standing deck at the back. It came to him so easily now, but he’d been terrified the first time he’d done this. He’d insisted on practicing with Ram several times, dropping a coin as Ram’s outstretched hands pretended to be the farebox, rehearsing where to sit and what not to say to the other passengers who didn’t give two shits that His Royal Highness, Prince Ankhbayar was among them. Ankhbayar had never, in his entire life, been in a room where people had not cared he was there. He could barely go from his bedroom to his bathroom without hearing his arrival announced by some grand herald. The thought of being an anonymous face on public transit had terrified and thrilled him all at once. What an amazing thing it was to be no one remarkable at all.

He hopped off as the streetcar stopped down by the docks. A sizeable crowd had gathered there to greet the arrival of a large passenger liner, hailing from far points. The workers on the shore threw enormous ropes up to the men on deck as the people laughed and clapped at the feats of strength. Part of Ankhbayar wanted to watch too, to marvel as the great boat became still and let open its iron sides. But he had a destination tonight, and it wasn’t here. Summoning in his mind the image of the city map he’d spent hours studying, he took the second left off the main thoroughfare, down an alley whose only light came from a single gaslamp behind red-tinted glass.




“Stop,” Ram said, putting up his hand as though physically stopping the telling of the event might also stop it from having happened in the first place. He drew in a deep breath. “You went where?”

“I know–” Prince Ankhbayar began.

“Didn’t I say not to go there?” Ram asked, which was a stupid question. Of course he’d said not to go to Vermillion Street. In his instructions to Prince Ankhbayar, he had been explicit about the fact that there were some places that a prince, even a prince in convincing commoner disguise, should absolutely, without question never set foot, and Vermillion Street had all but topped that list.

“I wanted to–“

“To what? To get killed?” Ram had to clap his hand over his mouth to keep from shouting and alerting the seemingly millions of guards that were always patrolling the grounds of the palace. Prince Ankhbayar was wrong about a great many things, but he wasn’t exaggerating about the level of trouble Ram would be in, were he to be caught trespassing on royal property. Even if he’d been invited. Even if he’d been being invited for years now.

“To find the debt-collectors!” Prince Ankhbayar said, stamping his foot like the brat he tried so hard not to be, he really did. Still, Ram supposed, it was hard to overcome one’s true nature. “That’s where the debt-collectors gather, that’s what people told me! I wanted to know why I shouldn’t go to Vermillion Street, and you wouldn’t tell me, so I asked, and that’s what people told me, they told me that debt-collectors were there, and that’s why people didn’t go!”

By the Mother Goddess and all her fat little children, Ram was going to kill him. He didn’t know if that counted as regicide, if the murder victim was merely a prince. He’d have to find that out later. “Why were you going to find debt-collectors anyway?”

Prince Ankhbayar threw his hands up in frustration. “To pay off your debts!”

Every word Ram had ever learned left him. He sat there on the edge of the bed in stunned silence, his mouth half-open like a fish’s. There were so many emotions happening inside of him at the moment that he supposed he now knew what fireworks felt like in the moment before they exploded. “What debts?” was all he could manage, because it seemed as good a place as any to begin unraveling this cockamamie scheme.

“I…” Prince Ankhbayar sighed and looked away, scratching at the back of his neck. “I thought that’s why you told me not to go there. Because you have debts.”

Well, all right, he wasn’t wrong. Ram had debts — or, more accurately, his stupid drunken father had had debts, until he’d fallen down a staircase and broken his neck, at which moment all those debts had become his eldest son’s. But those weren’t break-someone’s-knees debts. He paid those back at a regular rate, always on time. They stung, sure, but he had them managed, or mostly managed, which was well enough. He could have sworn he’d never even mentioned them. He wasn’t going to use this connection to wealth to become a leech dependent upon it. He had his pride. His pride, and his debts.

The two of them were silent for a moment. Then Prince Ankhbayar rose from the expensive armchair, walked over to the edge of the bed, and sat beside Ram. “And you won’t let me just give you money. So I thought I could go pay them off for you, whatever they were,” Prince Ankhbayar explained, his voice soft. “I could do it myself. Pretend to be you, and find the people you owe, and pay them what you owe, and then you’d be done with it.”

It was the sweetest and stupidest thing Ram had ever heard in his whole life — sweet for obvious reasons, and stupid because debt collectors weren’t the only criminal enterprises in Vermillion Street. Not by a long shot.




None of the establishments on Vermillion Street were labeled, or at least not in any way Ankhbayar could read, at least really not without his glasses. The windows of the ground-level establishments were all but covered in peeling layers of notices and other bills, years’ worth of accumulated paper and information that blocked his view of their inner workings. A few men lingered about in the streets, dressed in ragged clothes or ill-fitting suits, either smoking alone on stoops or huddled in twos and threes. None of them paid him much mind, and even then, not for more than it took to look him over once.

He was starting to see the flaw in his plan, or his lack thereof: How did one find the right person to pay back someone else’s debt to? He realized that at least some part of his optimistic little mind had expected he would arrive at the street and be greeted by something, well, instructive — perhaps a signboard that pointed the way toward an official debt collection agency, one where he could just walk in and give Ram’s name as his own, and someone would pull out a ledger from the shelves and turn its pages to Ram’s name, and upon hearing the number, Ankhbayar would at least know how much was owed and to whom, and when he returned to the palace, he could charge a servant with taking the correct amount, whereupon the same person would take the same ledger from the same shelves and strike Ram’s name from it, and possibly give the servant a receipt–

Standing alone beneath the red glow of the single streetlamp, Ankhbayar felt very foolish indeed.

Still, he’d come for a reason. and he was not easily deterred. It was either his best or his worth quality, depending on whom one asked. All right, so perhaps wishing for a formal place of business that kept banker’s hours was wishful thinking. Still, more than one person had answered his inquiries about Vermillion Street with a claim that the debt-collectors lurked there. That had to mean something, didn’t it? Besides, he was nearly a man now, and when men said they were going to do things, they did them. On that point, Ankhbayar’s father and brothers had been excruciatingly clear.

A man appeared emerged from one of the street-level doors that led to the upper-floor apartments, smoking a cigarette. At this distance, Ankhbayar couldn’t make out any clear details about him, save that he wore a dapper suit over a slim frame. Now that was promising — a man who had a well-fitted suit was a man took pride in his appearance and in details, which was another lesson Ankhbayar’s father and brothers had tried to impress upon him, usually while trying to get the young prince to stop wiggling and let someone do up his necktie. Destiny itself had stepped in and delivered guidance! Ankhbayar was going to follow him.

Moving casually, so as not to look too much like a stalking predator, Ankhbayar followed. He kept his shoulders loose and his walk casual, as though he were merely coincidentally headed for the same place as the smoking man. The smoking man seemed unbothered by his new shadow, if he indeed even noticed. Another block on, he turned and began to descend a small set of concrete stairs that led to a door half-sunk beneath street level. Not even bothering to put out his cigarette first, the smoking man reached for the door and opened it. As he did, he seemed to let out into the night a small burst of sound, the scratchy warble of a well-worn record set to spin too many times on a low-quality gramophone. Then he was inside, with the door shut behind him, leaving the street otherwise quiet.

Ankhbayar knew that was where he had to go next. There was music there, which surely meant it had to be inhabited by a friendly bunch. Every time he’d escaped from the palace for an evening, wearing Ram’s clothes, he’d found himself gravitating toward places with music. Sometimes it was an entire live brass band in a bustling establishment; sometimes it was merely an old woman on a street corner, playing her fiddle and singing old songs for coins. Good people gathered around music, or so Ankhbayar had come to believe. Surely this would be no different of an experience.

Settling his hat politely on his head, Ankhbayar made a casual stroll over to the same flight of stairs the smoking man had taken. As he descended, he saw a word carved into the doorpost — not scratched like graffiti, but painstakingly worn into the dark wood. In the near-dark of the evening, it was barely legible. Ankhbayar had to use his fingers to trace the shapes into meaning: Lin’s.




Ram felt as though his whole life were flashing before his eyes. All the oranges in his stomach had turned into stones. If someone were to pitch him into the bay right then, he would sink to the bottom and be grateful for it. “You didn’t.”

“I didn’t know!” Prince Ankhbayar shrugged. “How was I supposed to know when you didn’t tell me?”

“You were supposed to not go there, because I said, don’t go there.” Ram exhaled through clenched teeth. “Are you two? Are you a toddler? Do you need to touch the stove every time because you just have to challenge the person that said you shouldn’t?”

Prince Ankhbayar looked at him with those wide, soft eyes of his. Ram hated how many times in his own life he’d made that same expression, and to similar effect. “You said you wouldn’t get mad.”

Dammit, he had. Ram took a deep breath and flopped back against the bed. The springs coiled in the mattress bounced a little under his weight. “All right, I’m not mad,” he said, and he wasn’t. Mad was not the word for what he was feeling right now. “And then you left right away, right?”

“Well,” said Prince Ankhbayar, looking at his hands folded in his lap, “not exactly.”




A hand clapped itself so firmly on Ankhbayar’s ass that Ankhbayar broke all the composure he’d so valiantly managed to muster and yelped with fright. Fortunately, the owner of the hand seemed to think this was hilarious. “Ram!” said a booming voice through his laughter. “Thought you weren’t going to be in tonight!”

Ankhbayar turned and felt his mouth go dry. He hadn’t been aware that mouths could go dry like that. He felt like he’d just swallowed a desert. He looked up — and then kept looking up. The man who had addressed him should been trembling with the fear of having ihs hand chopped off for daring to touch a member of the royal family without permission. Instead, he was just grinning, flashing at least two gold teeth as he leered down at Ankhbayar. A long-healed scar curved around his left eye like a crescent moon. He looked less like a man and more like a prize bull. And he had Ankhbayar in his sights.




No,” Ram exhaled softly, an impossible prayer to the universe that maybe, just maybe there were two men out there that fit this description. “You met Valya?”

“Oh, was that his name?” asked Prince Ankhbayar. “I don’t think he said it.”

Ram flopped an arm over his eyes, barely remembering to remove the glasses he didn’t need before he mashed them against his face. Maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t going to be as bad as he feared. Maybe.




The man whose name was apparently Valya, though Ankhbayar hadn’t known it at the time, leaned in a little closer. He used his paw-like grip on Ankhbayar’s ass to turn Ankhbayar around, until Ankhbayar was sandwiched between the bar and the Valya’s body. And what a body it was. This was a man who looked like he could have made a good living for himself wrestling bears. The shirt he had was untied at the neck, leaving a sharp, wide V of fabric that teased at a chest full of dark hair. When he leaned in close, he smelled of cheap alcohol and even cheaper cigarettes and the ocean.

It was at this moment, on the cusp of his coming-of-age ceremony, that Prince Ankhbayar learned something very important about himself.

He was hard. Not just a little hard, the way he sometimes got for what seemed like no particular reason, and took care of himself beneath the covers of his bed or while taking a shower, thinking about what it would feel like to have hands and mouths on him, but not especially thinking about to whom those hands and mouths might belong. No, he was hard enough that he was slightly dizzy. His cock had gone rigid, straining upwards inside his rough trousers. At least they were loose-fitting enough that the effect was mostly concealed; if he’d been wearing one of his customary suits, fitted for him by the finest tailors in the kingdom, there would have been no hiding anything.

The closer Valya leaned in and leered, the more Ankhbayar felt his whole body start to tremble — not with fear, but with arousal and fear, which was a very new sensation. This man could snap him in half like a twig. Moreover, this man probably would snap him in half like a twig if he noticed the reaction Ankhbayar was having. Not that crimes against nature were much punished anymore, but official legal consequences were hardly the foremost of his worries here.

Then Valya reached up and tugged at a strand of Ankhbayar’s hair, curling it around his finger. “This is cute,” Valya said, giving the lock a little tug. “You get something fancy to put in it?”

Ankhbayar and Ram were, in all things physical, as close to duplicates as two unrelated people could be. That similarity was why Ankhbayar knew Ram at all: Some official parade in Ankhbayar’s fifteenth year had been deemed too dangerous for the youngest prince to attend, due to unrest in the city, so a similar-looking common boy had been found for the occasion. Only they hadn’t been merely similar — they had been identical, such that Ankhbayar had found Ram afterwards and begged him to begin their brief bouts of trading places. Once every few months or so, Ram mostly milled about quietly in Ankhbayar’s room so no one would notice the prince’s absence, while Ankhbayar ran out into the city and learned what life was like beyond the palace walls, one stolen night at a time.

This was, however, the first time Ankhbayar had had his commoner’s disguise scrutinized by someone who knew Ram, and all their tiny dissimilarities were racing to the forefront of his mind. Ankhbayar’s final growth spurt had given him a full inch of height on Ram. Ram’s shoulders were the slightest bit broader than Ankhbayar’s, and his nose had a slight healed bump at the bridge for reasons he wouldn’t tell Ankhbayar about. Ankhbayar tended to be softer in all dimensions, his skin smoother, his hands and feet uncallused. And especially since Ankhbayar had skipped his usual grooming products tonight, his untamed hair was just the slightest bit curlier than Ram’s.

It was one of those curls that Valya was playing with now as he moved in close. Ankhbayar could feel his heart pounding in his chest. Valya leaned in and smelled him, then laughed. “You must have. You even smell fancy. Look at that. You got all pretty just to come see me.”

Ankhbayar didn’t know how to respond. No one in his entire life had ever come close to addressing him like this, much less from this proximity. And yes, he’d been aware that leaving the palace would mean that people would no longer treat him like a prince, but there was still a wide gap between not bowing to someone and smelling their hair in a public establishment!

Speaking of the public part, Ankhbayar glanced around the interior, taking account of his surroundings. It was a drinking establishment; he had wandered his way into more than a few of those in his time, though refrained from ordering anything for fear of calling attention to his youth. A long bar covered one side of the room, its mirrored backing making the tiny space look larger. Everything was filtered through a haze of harsh-smelling cigarette smoke that made Ankhbayar’s lungs seize slightly. A number of tables and chairs were scattered throughout, most looking a bit the worse for wear, with a fair number of people occupying them, given what an out-of-the-way place it was.

And everyone there — seated, standing, behind the bar — was male. Ankhbayar wasn’t exactly a seasoned patron of places like this, but he knew enough to know that was a strange ratio. Moreover, he knew that manhandling another man like Valya was doing, particularly in front of other men, was a dangerous business indeed. Yet none of the other patrons in the bar looked perturbed by this. In fact, Ankhbayar thought he saw at least a handful of them nod with keen interest.

Valya put his arm around Ankhbayar’s waist and yanked Ankhbayar close. The surprised little noise Ankhyabar made as he collided with Valya’s chest — as his cock bumped unmistakably against Valya’s thigh — just made Valya grin some more. And it wasn’t just a grin; Ankhbayar had seen grins. He’d never seen a grin like this. What had the novels called it, the ones his tutors had made him read? Was this a leer? He didn’t know if he’d ever seen a leer before, much less been leered at. Sometimes his parents made him dance with girls at parties, reminding him time and again to be careful, because one day one of them might be his bride! They’d giggled and blushed when they were in his presence, averting their eyes demurely. He’d never seen one of them look like they wanted to eat him alive.

“Looks like your little prince is back, eh?” asked the bartender, sliding over two short glasses of some clear liquid Ankhbayar figured probably wasn’t water.

“He can’t stay away.” Valya grinned and took the glasses, handing one to Ankhbayar before clinking their rims together. He tilted the glass back and swallowed its contents whole in a single gulp.

Oh no, was that what Ankhbayar was supposed to do? He’d never consumed alcohol so … so violently before. Sometime his older brothers and uncles did, especially when they were in their cups, but Ankhbayar was still expected to abide by the more genteel manners of youth. He lifted the glass to his lips and took a brave sip, something slightly closer to a full swallow.

Oh, that was bad. It was bad enough that Ankhbayar had to exert all his force not to cough. He was certain his face was already starting to flush red. The room had been warm already, and now Ankhbayar felt like someone had lit a fire inside him. He might have outright swooned a bit, had Valya’s powerful arms not been so interested in holding him upright.

“So,” asked Valya, licking his lips, “how much tonight?”

Ankhbayar had no idea how to answer that. He had no idea how Ram might answer that. He honestly had no idea what Valya was even asking. He didn’t even know how to begin to ask for clarification. It was time to bluff. “Um,” Ankhbayar said, giving what he hoped was a casual little shrug. “The usual?”




Ram had never before pondered what exactly it would be like to feel one’s soul leaving one’s body. Holy men probably meditated for decades to achieve the same sensation Ram was feeling. He felt capable of escaping any cycle of death and rebirth now, largely because he could not imagine any divine power would know what to do with someone who came before them with the sin I introduced my naive double, who was also a prince, to my largest client, and I mean ‘largest’ in several senses on his list of crimes. He could just imagine all the Judges of Hell throwing up their hands in despair, each of them turning to the others and going, fuck it, I don’t know, you decide what to do with him.

Prince Ankhbayar sighed next to him, his hands still folded in his lap. “In my defense–“

“Nope.” Ram shook his head. They were past that point. “No. Uh-uh. Continue.”




Of course it made sense for a drinking establishment to have a back room, perhaps for storage or for private parties. But there was a difference between knowing that room was there and being in it — more than that, being pressed back up against a heavy table at its center. Did they have permission to be back here? Much less to be back here with Valya’s hand at the front of Ankhbayar’s pants, groping Ankhbayar’s erection through the material?

Surely not. Surely this was against all the rules. But Ankhbayar didn’t really have the energy to care about that, not while he was trying to keep from coming in his pants.

“I like this,” Valya growled. His hands were more like paws, pressing up against Ankhbayar’s cock with slow, deliberate force. “I mean, the snotty noble is fun, biting, growling, getting ravished against his will. But you’re not even going to push back today, are you? I’ve got a slutty little prince on my hands now. A real whore.”

It was at this moment Ankhbayar remembered something that should have seemed strange to him earlier, except that it hadn’t, because he was used to being addressed as “Prince” all the time. But the bartender had said it. But not in a way that indicated he actually thought Ankhbayar was the prince. Because they wouldn’t treat a real prince like that. Right? Of course not. Which meant… Which meant…

Which meant it was very hard to concentrate as Valya put his mouth against Ankhbayar’s bare neck and kissed his skin in a way that made Ankhbayar make a sound he hadn’t known he could make. It was a needy little whine, one that seemed to come from the very depths of his soul. He clung to the edge of the table and leaned back, letting Valya press against his body menacingly. This was dangerous. This was not like training, where all the swords had guards on them so an errant blow did no real damage. The edges here were all sharp.

Then Valya gripped one of his massive hands around Ankhbayar’s cock, and it was all over. Ankhbayar cried out as he came, his come spurting almost comically into the air. No one else had ever touched him like that. He had barely even touched himself like that, particularly for all the physicians’ warnings about how young men needed not to waste their essence. Now here he was, in the back of some seedy bar, getting off so hard it made him see stars. He was certain he had been noisy enough about it to be heard in the front room.

“Look at that,” said another voice. Ankhbayar’s head lolled to the side, eyes wide, to realize that they had an audience. Three or four men who’d been out there when he’d come in had followed them back here, hanging far back enough in the shadows that Ankhbayar couldn’t get a good count. And all of them had just seem him shoot off like a rocket. “Did you drug him or something?”

Valya laughed at that, like that was a thing people normally joked about doing. “He just showed up like this. Must be all hard up for his coming-of-age ceremony. Huh? Is that it, little prince? You’re going to be a man soon, so you don’t have to fight anymore how much you love getting fucked?”

It had never, not once in his pampered little life, occurred to Ankhbayar that the resemblance between the two of them would work both ways. He had always thought of Ram as good for holding his place, sitting quietly in the palace, ready to give some quick and reassuring chatter, should anyone wish to drop by unexpectedly and check in on the young prince. Not for a single second had Ankhbayar considered that looking like a prince might have some real-world applications. Say, for example, if someone wanted to fuck a prince, and was willing to pay good money for it, money that might be hard to come by otherwise.

Valya raked his hands back through Ankhbayar’s hair, getting a good fistful of it. “Well, I was going to fuck his mouth first,” Valya said to the other men, as though Ankhbayar weren’t a person but a thing, ready for use. The thought made Ankhbayar’s spent cock throb again needfully. “But I think one of you bastards is going to have to take that end for me, because a horny little bitch like this needs some meat right now.”

Before Ankhbayar could process any of that, Valya reached down to grab his ass — no, not his ass, but his thighs, enough to haul Ankhbayar up the rest of the way onto the table. Ankhbayar found himself splayed there beneath the room’s single lightbulb, helpless as Valya grabbed the waistband of Ankhbayar’s borrowed pants and yanked them down to his ankles. The other men laughed at that sudden exposure, which just made Ankhbayar’s cock jerk more insistently upright. He’d gotten off less than a minute ago, and already he was nearly fully hard again.

“Shit,” said one of the men, perhaps the one that had spoken first? Or was it another? Ankhbayar had no way of telling. “You mean it?”

“Course I do.” Valya grabbed Ankhbayar’s hips and shoved him back down a little until his ass was perched right at the edge of the table. “I feel like being generous tonight.”

The other men laughed their approval. As one stepped close, Ankhbayar could hear the sound of a belt’s being unbuckled.




It wasn’t that Ram minded being a whore. He wasn’t even really a whore, not in a full-time way. He just hustled sometimes to earn a little to tide him over between bouts of more respectable work, when and where he could find that. The more he couldn’t, the more he found himself down by the docks, down Vermillion Street, where all the establishments catered to the kind of clientele that thought Ram’s ass was something worth buying. Most of them didn’t even care who he looked like, so long as his holes were willing to take them on and he wasn’t a cop.

Someties, though, someone noticed. And because of that, Ram had a good sense of just how many men would pay good money to pretend like they deserved to fuck a prince. Valya wasn’t unique in his tastes or interest; he was just reliable.

The problem was more that Ram had never particularly enjoyed getting fucked like what those kind of men thought a prince should enjoy getting fucked like. He didn’t hate it, but he didn’t like it either. It was more of an unpleasant necessity, like having to stand on a crowded streetcar in summer when there were no open seats left. He wouldn’t have sought it out independently, but it got him what he wanted. There were plenty of times Valya had fucked Ram good and Ram’s dick hadn’t even joined the conversation.

What a hell of a contrast to the way Prince Ankhbayar was sitting on the side of the bed now, his cheeks flushed with the excitement of the memory, his hands clasped together so they didn’t tremble. Though Prince Ankhbayar’s hunched-over posture was trying to hide it, Ram could see the bulge straining beneath his clothes. “Show me,” Ram said.

Prince Ankhbayar looked at him, confusion written all over his face. For all the external similarities, their banks of potential facial expressions were radically different. “Show you?”

“How he touched you,” Ram said, licking his lips. “How he got you off.”

With a sigh of tremendous relief, Prince Ankhbayar unfastened his — still Ram’s — pants. His cock jumped out, hard and flushed, and yes, it did seem the resemblance went all the way down. He’d wondered that before. Prince Ankhbayar wrapped his hand around his dick, as ordered. His lips were parted, and he was breathing heavily as his fingers gripped his erection, holding it tight and still, as though motion might be dangerous. For all Ram knew, it might.

Ram swallowed, feeling his own cock start to stir beneath his trousers, which were, after all, fit for a prince. “Now tell me what happened next.”




The feeling of a cock shoved in his mouth was almost enough to distract Ankhbayar from the feeling of having an oil-slicked finger shoved none too gently into his ass. He couldn’t help thinking of wild game roasted on a spit. He moaned in surprise and pleasure, but this time his sounds were muffled by the cock between his lips. It hadn’t looked too big when the man had pulled it out of his pants, but in his mouth it seemed to have quadrupled in size. Ankhbayar could feel his jaw strain as he moved to accommodate the intrusion.

Meanwhile, the man who owned the cock in his mouth seemed none too concerned about gentleness from either of them. When Ankhbayar felt his teeth bump against skin, he prepared to apologize and be scolded, but the man kept going. He hauled his shaft entirely out of Ankhbayar’s mouth, leaving Ankhbayar gasping for air; trails of spit dangling between his lips and the head of the man’s cock. The man paused for only a moment, then tightened his fist in Ankhbayar’s hair. Ankhbayar inhaled sharply with the surprise and slight pain in his scalp. The man took advantage of that moment to thrust right back in, almost enough to make Ankhbayar gag.

Did Ram do this? Did he let them do this to him? He didn’t seem the type — but then again, even ten minutes ago, Ankhbayar wouldn’t have said he seemed the type, and yet here he was, so turned on he couldn’t think straight. He was no longer a delicate prince, the family’s tender baby. The ceremony at the end of the week would be just a formality.

Valya’s finger shifted inside him, which made Ankhbayar cry out softly as his cock jerked. He’d never had anything or anyone touch him like that before. If presented with the concept, he would have found it disgusting. If someone had asked to do it to him, he would have declined politely.

But Valya didn’t ask. He didn’t ask because he didn’t need to. Not asking was part of the price for the evening, and the fact that Valya was paying a price meant Ankhbayar was a whore. He was a whore who’d been stripped, his legs spread, his mouth filled, at the mercy of these men who thought he was only pretending to be the person he actually was. Ankhbayar felt someone grip his hand and force his fist to unclench. Yet another hard cock was placed right into it. Unable to ask for directions, Ankhbayar just started stroking its length. Given the noise the man made, that seemed to have been the correct response.

“He’s always so fucking tight,” Valya said, and Ankhbayar realized that what was pressed into him between his legs was no longer just a finger. Ankhbayar couldn’t lift his head to see, but there was no mistaking the sensation of a heavy cock, not when he had one in his mouth and another in his hand for comparison. “You think they teach them that in their fancy schools? How to read and write and get fucked?”

“That’s all those rich boys do there,” said another one of the men. “They read their fancy books and then they stick their cocks in each other. Everybody knows that’s what it’s like.”

Ankhbayar wished that had been what his schooling had been like. He had been forced by his teachers and tutors to read hundreds, if not thousands of texts, and not once had he even seen any of his schoolmates’ equipment. Maybe that could have prompted him to be a better student: Finish your essay and I’ll let you suck my dick. He would have completed every assignment twice.

His train of thought was taken from him by the sharp intrusion of Valya’s cock, shoved into him all at once. Thank the heavens Valya had used plenty of that oil, because he was big. Ankhbayar felt like his whole insides were having to shift and rearrange to accommodate being penetrated like that. Was the head of Valya’s cock pressing up against his lungs? In that moment, Ankhbayar could have believed that the cock in his mouth and the cock in his ass were so deep within him that they could touch one another. Perhaps they were in the process of discovering that he was hollow inside, that the youngest prince had been made to take cock. His eldest brother had been born to be the king someday, but he had been been born to a greater purpose. Or a lower one. Or, hell, both.

“What a pretty little slut.” “Fuck, his hands are soft.” “Yeah, that fucking mouth, suck me, prettyboy prince.” The voices were indistinguishable now, like their dicks. Only Valya was a separate person; the rest were just part of the mass of men Valya had allowed to have him, because Valya could decide things like that, because Valya had bought all his holes for the night. Valya had bought him for the night. For now, for as long as Valya wanted him, Ankhbayar was his. If Valya wanted to lend him out to other people, he could do that. If he wanted to keep Ankhbayar’s ass for himself, he could do that too.

And oh hell, Ankhbayar was rapidly discovering that wanted to be fuckable so much more than he had ever wanted to be a prince.




Ram sat back a little, far enough that Prince Ankhbayar was no longer in easy reach. He licked his lips. “Was he the only one who fucked you?” Ram asked, his voice rough and heavy with breath.

Prince Ankhbayar nodded as his fist pumped up and down the length of his dick.

Ram took a deep breath and let it out through pursed lips. He thought about being commanding, being in control — being Valya, honestly. Ram got paid to get fucked, not to fuck, and he’d thought that was fine, that was what suited him well enough. Seeing Prince Ankhbayar like this, though, and it was clear enough that no, it didn’t suit Ram. Ram took it and could like it, if he had a mind to. 

Prince Ankhbayar loved it. He loved thinking about it so much that his dick was straining in his hand, hard again at just the memory of it. Ram had no trouble imagining what Prince Ankhbayar had looked like, all spread out in pleasure — and not because of how similar their faces were. In fact, Ram was fairly sure he himself had never been the beautiful sight Prince Ankhbayar had presented those men, half-stripped and stretched out and eager. Ram knew he needed to see it with his own eyes.

“Did you want more of them to?” Ram asked, dropping his voice into his chest until his words were a low, authoritative rumble.

Prince Ankhbayar moaned as he nodded desperately.

“Did you want to take all of them?” Ram asked. “How many of them did you want inside of you?”

“All,” Prince Ankhbayar gasped. “I wanted them all.”




“Fuck, give me his face, gonna come on that pretty face.” Ankhbayar had only a second to react to the words before he felt something warm and wet splash across his cheeks and lips. “How do you like that, your majesty? Your pretty little highness turns out to be nothing but a cheap back-alley whore. Gonna sign him like a painting. Let me fucking get in there too. You had your turn. I want his mouth. I want to make a prince choke on my dick.”

Everything was a haze, and Ankhbayar was responsible for none of it. He didn’t have to want anything. He just had to lie back and let them do with him what they wanted, and it would become what he wanted in the process.

The bodies and body parts and voices that moved around his top half changed all the time, until Ankhbayar couldn’t even tell how many of them there were, if some had arrived or some others had left. His constant, though, was the way Valya was pounding his ass. With Valya’s size and strength, Ankhbayar had expected him to be like some wild beast, a bear in rut let at a willing mate. But no, Valya was stone-cold and deliberate. Every thrust was hard and deep, but the interval between them was unbearably slow. There were times Ankhbayar felt tears running from the corners of his eyes as he wished he could beg Valya to please, don’t make him wait, fuck him again, he needed to get fucked so hard right now.

Another spurt of come splattered across his chest, and then one across his belly — and that one made the men all cheer and laugh for reasons Ankhbayar couldn’t understand, until he realized that one had been his own. He’d come for the second time since getting Valya’s hands on him, this time without his dick even being touched. He couldn’t pretend not to love this treatment. The evidence was smeared all over his body.

One cock pulled roughly out of Ankhbayar’s mouth, only to be replaced by another, then another after that. He sucked them all as best he could, licking and kissing whatever was put in front of his lips. One after another they shot not in his mouth, but across his face or chest or even in his hair. He found the idea disgusting and compelling at once. He had the wild thought of walking back into court like that, striding up to his royal father and saying that he was sorry for being late, but he was busy getting fucked by a bar full of seedy rakes. Hadn’t his father and brothers always talked about how important it was to understand the common man? Ankhbayar was certain he was getting an excellent education.

At last, after what could have been entire years’ worth of Ankhbayar’s life, one dick pulled out of his mouth and another did not replace it. Before he could even think to wonder why, he heard Valya’s voice: “You know what I want to hear? I want to hear a slutty little prince tell me how much he wants me to come inside him.”

Ankhbayar’s twice-spent cock jerked to life again. His empty mouth fell open with a deep groan. “Yes,” he managed. “Yes.”

“Yes, what?” asked Valya, sounding far too calm, at least in Ankhbayar’s estimation, for a man who had such a rigid dick buried in someone else. “Tell me what you want.”

“I want you to come inside me,” Ankhbayar gasped. Was he saying the right thing? He didn’t know. He desperately hoped so.

Valya chuckled. “Because you’re not a prince. You’re just a whore like us.”

Ankhbayar nodded desperately. He could barely open his eyes a sliver because of all the come on his face. He could taste it whenever he opened his mouth to speak. “I’m a whore. I’m just a whore.”

All the men around him laughed, cruel and mocking in a way that went right to Ankhbayar’s dick. It was all the pleasure of doing something wrong, of violating a prince and turning him into a slutty mess, no better than anyone else there.

“That’ll be fun,” Valya said with an audible smirk, “watching in a few days. Seeing you all done up like a fancy rich boy. But we know what you’d rather be wearing. We know you’d rather be sitting on a dick than on a throne.”

It was the truest thing anyone had ever said about him. Ankhbayar had gone all his life never being as well-understood as he was by a bunch of thugs and criminals who were delighting in making a mess of him. Of course, they all thought he was at best an effigy, a clever lookalike to be an outlet for their thoughts and frustrations. Little did they know how absolutely right they were.

Then Valya grabbed Ankhbayar’s hips and gave Ankhbayar what he’d been wanting most from the start — a good, hard, fast fucking. It was like riding a galloping horse, but deeper, so deep that Ankhbayar thought this might be further proof that he was hollow. There was so much of Valya, and Ankhbayar could take it all, because he was a natural whore. He’d gone from being a complete virgin to a thirsty slut in a matter of minutes, and no one had noticed, because Prince Ankhbayar had turned out to be better at being a whore than he’d ever been at anything else in his life.

His reward for it was to get exactly what Valya’s body had been promising since the first time he’d pressed into Ankhbayar. Unlike all the other men, Valya didn’t pull out. Instead, he yanked Ankhbayar down until he was off the table from the ribs down, so that nothing was supporting his lower half but Valya’s powerful arms. Ankhbayar was lost like that in the rhythm and the sensation, until Valya held him tight and grunted, and Ankhbayar knew Valya was coming inside him. Everything else the other men had done could be wiped away, but that? That was going to be there for a while.

Valya settled Ankhbayar back onto the table with surprising tenderness, considering what had just been being done and said. He didn’t try to cover up Ankhbayar, though, leaving him spread for full view. A bag of coins landed on Ankhbayar’s chest, followed by a thin and grimy bar towel. That must have been the usual.

“You know,” said Valya with a chuckle, giving Ankhbayar’s hair an affectionate little ruffle, “that was pretty good. Slutty little prince. You should do that one more often. It’s a big hit.”

Valya might have thought he was taking to Ram, but Ankhbayar took every word to heart for himself. “Thanks.” On his exhausted, come-streaked royal face, he wore a proud little smile.




“You want to?” asked Ram.

“Want to what?” Prince Ankhbayar managed to gasp out. His fist pumped up and down a cock so stiff, it looked like he hadn’t gotten off in weeks, much less that this would be the third time tonight.

“Do that again.”


Ram smirked. “Then I’ll set it up for you. Get them all ready. Get you a lineup that’ll give you what you want. Next time, they’ll all know they can come for you, and come inside you. You don’t just have to be Valya’s whore. You can be everyone’s whore.”

The eager, helpless moan Prince Ankhbayar made as he came again was all the confirmation Ram needed that this was indeed what he wanted. Despite how wrecked and drained he must have been by the entire experience, Prince Ankhbayar shot off in his hand, making a small splattering mess on the tiled floor. If he got off just at the thought of that, then how much harder would the real thing get him? There was only one way to find out.

At last, Prince Ankhbayar all but collapsed against the bed. He looked like a bowl of noodles spilled on the floor. Breathing heavily, his cock still sticking out of his pants — Ram’s pants — Prince Ankhbayar was clearly in no position to move again tonight.

Well, that had all been so much worse than Ram had feared, and yet it had still turned out all right. At least, Ram’s head was still attached to his shoulders, and no one looked to be interested in changing that status for the time being, and he’d even learned something new about both himself and one of the most powerful men in the kingdom. That, all tallied up, counted as a win.

Ram chuckled wryly. “How about you keep my clothes this time, and I’ll wear yours home?”

Prince Ankhbayar waved his hand limply, in the way they must have taught all the nobles to signal yes, yes, go ahead. It was cuter in this context, with him all loose and satisfied. For the whole time they’d known one another. Prince Ankhbayar had always seemed to Ram somewhat of a rope pulled too taut, a mechanism wound too tight. The aftermath of letting go made him look so much his age, or lack thereof.

When they’d first met, Ram had of course been perfectly deferential to Prince Ankhbayar, agreeing to his every statement and rushing to fulfill his every command, in the way all rabble like him knew they had to behave when addressed by someone of unimaginably higher status. When had that changed? When had his attitude toward Prince Ankhbayar shifted from abject obedience to slightly exasperated affection? He couldn’t say how long ago it had begun, but it had come into full focus tonight. And to Ram’s surprise, they both seemed to like it better this way.

“Oh!” Prince Ankhbayar lifted his head. “Wait. Wait. Don’t go yet.” With a colossal effort, he flopped from his side to his back with all the grace of a beached whale. He reached into the pocket of his vest and pulled out a little burlap sack, which he pitched heroically in Ram’s general direction. It plopped down somewhere near the foot of the bed. “That’s your … you should have that.”

Ram plucked it up, hearing the coins inside jingle. The usual, indeed. The usual like this, from a night he hadn’t planned on earning anything other than an evening spent in luxury, that would go a not-inconsiderable way toward paying off some of his father’s lingering debts. Besides, it wasn’t like a prince needed a whore’s wage.

But no, something inside Ram stopped him. It wasn’t a matter of needing or deserving. Good work deserved honest compensation. Or, well, most of it. Ram opened the bag and tapped out three of the larger coins into his hand, then tossed the nearly full bag back onto the bed by Prince Ankhbayar’s side. “I’ll take my cut, since I am your pimp now,” Ram said with a wink, rubbing the coins together between his fingertips. “But a whore deserves a whore’s wage. And I’d say you earned it.”

If Prince Ankhbayar’s cock hadn’t spent itself beyond good sense and reason that evening, it would surely have perked up immediately at that; as it was, it gave a weak little jerk of interest. Oh, they’d definitely be doing this again.

On his way out the door, Ram snatched up another couple oranges and tucked them in the pockets of his new overcoat. Those two and the memory of their taste on his tongue would be enough to tide him over for a little while. Next time, they’d be even sweeter.

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10 thoughts on “A World Made Up of Silver and Copper

  1. Oh my goodness this was so lovely. I loved how clearly voiced it was and the fringe was so so clever. And of course the sex was exquisite. I love how enthusiastic the price was for the rough handling and of course it makes sense with how he’s been treated. Truly phenomenal stuff

  2. This was such a fun take on the mistaken identity/doppelgänger/prince-and-pauper trope, I loved every word of it. I especially loved how sensible Ankhbayar’s reasoning was for going where he’d been told not to; I would have been perfectly content with a lesser explanation, but the added layer of logic turned an understandable misstep into an understandable and very sweet misstep, which really helped elevate the dynamic between him and Ram. And the peek into the flipside of the dynamic, and how Ram capitalizes on their similarity for his own gain? Brilliant stuff.

    Also, I’m always a sucker for a good virgin-turned-cockslut scene, and boy howdy did this deliver on, oh, just about everything I like about those. Excellent work, as always!

    • I FORGOT TO MENTION THE ILLUSTRATION it’s beautiful! Excellently captures the similarities and differences between the two boys, and I love how disheveled Ankhbayar looks. Fantastic work!

  3. Ah this is so fun! I loved the shocked revelation that he’s been so insulated and self-centered that he never realized Ram has a life outside the palace as his doppelganger. Love to see a pretty, spoiled boy get what’s coming to him and love it so much!

  4. Ohhhh yeah this was good lmfao I didn’t see it coming but man when it did I was all for it haha. The prince seems like such a cutie and ram is gonna make an awesome pimp

  5. I love that not only has Ankhbayar been taking advantage of the body double situation since they first discovered it (somehow without getting in trouble? hell yeah), but so has Ram. Like yes, thank you, I do have a noted resemblance to the prince, that’ll be two bits.

    And holy crap that was hot!

  6. You really don’t see enough body double stories where the “pauper” side of the equation takes advantage of looking like an important person for more than getting up to some swapsies. Ram is just being reasonable with his celebrity impersonation skillset! I continue to be a sucker for settings that FEEL old but are still modernized to a degree; we’ve got Mother Goddesses and grand festivals, but we’ve also got cigarettes and streetcars and big passenger ships, and I like seeing people take fantastic settings and actually let technology advance for a change.

    I appreciate how the art even has the two leads holding themselves slightly differently; they look similar but these are still different people. That pop of red in the background adds some drama to the proceedings, too, and not only emphasizes that princely tie but also hearkens to the red light district in which so much of the story takes place.

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