For this test, failure is not an option [Daily Slice entry for 05-08-12 prompt].
The figure moaned slightly from his slumped position.
"Wesley Ranvec? Are you with us?" the voice asked again, its owner's location uncertain in the nearly dark room.
"Where...where am I? Who are you? Release me at once!" the man demanded.
A small spotlight mounted on top of the chair and aimed directly downward came on, instantly throwing into deep shadow everything more than a few feet from the cone of brilliant white. The light revealed a man. He was bound to a high-backed chair by thick padded straps at his wrists and ankles, across his thighs, and across his chest just under his armpits. The man was naked and, except for the eyelashes tightly pressed together in a vain attempt to keep out the light, there didn't seem to be a single hair on his body.
"Ahh, Mister Ranvec," came the voice, approval evident in its tone, "you appear to have fully recovered from Ion's 'invitation' to join us for this evening's testing. He can be quite direct, can he not?"
"Direct? Is that what you call it?" the captive spat. "He walked right up to me and ordered me to come with him. When I refused, he hit me!"
"As I said, Mister Ranvec--direct. We could brook no delay, permit no unseemly scene. Trust me, he could have been much less gentle."
"Gentle?! Humph! I'll ask again: Who are you?"
"My name is Victor," answered the other. "My fellows and I are members of the Galère de Bain--The Brotherhood of the Bath, if you like. It is a quirk of our Master to strike only while his victims are bathing. One of our fellows took note of this and came up with the name. It amuses our Master."
"That why I'm naked?" Ranvec interrupted. "You're all perverts! Getting your jollies, are you?"
"Not at all, Mister Ranvec," countered Victor. "It's merely a requirement for tonight's testing, as are the padded straps and your hairless state. That is also why I am doing this." Victor stepped forward, gag in hand, and quickly rendered his captive unable to protest with anything other than what were undoubtedly muffled curses. He continued his explanation.
"The padded straps are to prevent you from harming yourself to the point of drawing blood; that cannot be allowed. Regarding your naked and hairless states, it has been our experience that pheromones are released much more freely, if they are not restricted by clothing or body hair. I hasten to assure you that, although the shaving was quickly accomplished, there was absolutely no danger of your receiving so much as a nick; the instructions to your attendants were quite clear on that point.
"As I said, you are a participant in tonight's testing. Our little group has five new members. They have completed their initial training, but must now prove they have a certain mastery of precision and patience. The pheromones you will release during the testing will test their patience to the limit. You, too, will be tested, Mister Ranvec. You must do your utmost to remain still while they practice. They are only permitted to go so far, but I must caution you: do not arouse them by resisting. Do not be so foolhardy as to attempt any kind of attack. You cannot hurt them, and they will be unable to quell the instinctual response such an attack will elicit, with the most dire consequences to you. The testing will now begin." The spotlight clicked off.
"Vaclav," came Victor's voice, "you may proceed."
Wesley struggled mightily against the straps but, as Victor had said, it was useless. The additional fact that the chair was bolted to the floor made it clear there would be no escape. He could do nothing but wait.
There was the faint sound of movement, and then Wesley felt a puff of cold breath on his left forearm, followed by a sharp stinging. Vaclav had bitten him! Even as he shouted through his gag, a rough tongue gently licked the wound site and he thought he heard a soft whine. The sound raised goosebumps all over his body.
"Good, Vaclav! Very good!" Victor called. "Sandor - proceed."
He completely missed Sandor's approach. He only knew Sandor was near, when the sharp sting was repeated on the upper portion of his right arm. In spite of Victor's admonition, Wesley jerked his head and connected with Sandor's. A hiss and a snarl came to him out of the darkness.
"Sandor! No!" Victor commanded. Too late. Wesley felt another bite. Although he couldn't see anything, he could tell that this bite was more severe. He felt the blood beginning to run down his arm.
"Sandor! Release!" shouted Victor.
Wesley felt Sandor pull away, tearing his arm even more in the process. Whining and snarling sounds reached his ears, clearly audible over his muffled shouts. He heard Victor step forward and felt him remove the gag. Even as he began to shout and curse, the spotlight clicked back on.
"What's wrong with you people? What do you think you're doing, biting me like that? You're all raving lunatics, think you're vampires or--"
All the lights came up and Wesley's eyes fell upon the contorted visages and protruding fangs. He began to scream.
"I warned you, Mister Ranvec." Victor turned to the others. "The testing is over. You may feed."