Blessed be Akana, she whose name is Beautiful Cruelty, Terrible Pleasure, Sublime Pain.
Edriel was so thoroughly absorbed in the pornographic scroll that he didn’t notice the high priestess until she planted her foot squarely in the middle of a particularly delectable picture.
“Oh, Mistress Sekba!” He snapped his head up at her, blushing as he stared past the red linen loincloth and up to the firm, small breasts, bound perfunctorily with a strip of black silk.
Sekba’s stern face was surrounded by a lion’s mane of tawny blonde hair, and her reddened upper lip was curled in disdain. Seen from below, the sharpness of her chiseled features was heightened, and she loomed like a granite monument.
He was almost glad to be relieved of the sight as he prostrated himself at her feet in expectation. No male was allowed to speak to the priestesses unless he was asked to, and Edriel tensed against the stone floor, bracing for the customary kick in the ribs.
“Get up – your lot has been drawn,” she growled. It was the longest sentence that she had ever addressed to him. Mouth hanging open, he scrambled to his feet, smoothing down his plain brown kilt with his large, strong hands. Though he had to look down to gaze into the priestess’ catlike green eyes, he felt appropriately cowed by her cool stare and lowered his head, not daring to ask the question.
As if mocking his inability to speak, Sekba narrowed her eyes and purred, “You’d like to know, wouldn’t you?” She chucked him under the chin in a gesture so freakishly tender it felt sinister. “You’ll be finding out tonight.” Without further explanation, she glided out of the room with a panther’s gait, leaving the curtains swaying in her wake.
Edriel let out a relieved breath when she had gone, but his chest was rapidly tightening with apprehension. When he had dedicated himself to the temple of Akana six years ago, he had already been familiar with the rules of an initiate. As a male, he was not allowed to aspire to priesthood. His only chance at being allowed into the mysteries of the goddess was to have his lot drawn by the sacred oracles. Only when this happened would he be assigned a mistress among the priestesses, to whom he must devote his life, body, and soul. To this end, he had been training since his arrival in the arts of love, worship, and pain. For Akana was best pleased by the ancient practice of shamaat – the domination of a female over a male. A longing to learn this craft had driven Edriel to leave his scholarly existence at the university and take up the arduous life of a temple novice. Now, after six years of training and menial work, the oracle had finally deemed him ready for initiation.
There were hours until evening, but they would be filled with preparations. In a moment, a contingent of already-initiated males would come into his chamber and guide him through the process of bathing, dressing, and praying that preceded the ceremony. As the rest of the temple readied itself for the rite, Edriel would be sequestered in his room, steeling himself for what was about to happen.
The sound of giggling came from the young women’s wing, and three hard-bodied, sun-browned girls slipped through the curtains into Kephera’s quarters. Their muscular arms dripped with piles of silver jewelry and sensuous red silks, and they grinned as they entered the room, baring sharp white teeth. The inside of the chamber was bedecked with garlands of blood-red flowers and berries. Behind a fragile filigree dressing-screen, Kephera laughed and crossed her arms over her ample chest. Two initiates were cajoling her, gently trying to remove her gown of white silk, the garment of an uninitiated virgin. Tonight she would don different clothing altogether.
Kephera was of foreign birth, as evidenced by the soft, supple roundness of her limbs and the gentleness of her manner. Dedicated to the temple as a young child, she was one of Sekba’s most promising virgins. She had been introduced to the art of shamaat at the age of nine, schooled by Sekba herself, and had excelled. Her shy demeanor hid a rough, animal sensuality that few knew about, and Sekba was proud of what she had created in the young woman. Tonight, Kephera would go through initiation with a virgin male. It would be the beginning, Sekba sensed, of a long career that might end in taking the high priesthood vows.
In the hallways it was dark and still, but the inner sanctum of the temple resounded with singing and drunken cries. Torchlight flickered dizzily off the marble walls, throwing scenes of revelry in and out of shadow. A gathering of the devotees was always riotous, especially when a much-looked-forward-to initiation ceremony came up.
At the center of the chaos sat Edriel, holding a cup of spiced wine in shaky hands. His friends surrounded him, teasing and snickering, some of them secretly envying him, others almost as nervous as he was. The time of transition was always risky for a male; many initiates were unable to bear the trials of the first night and were exiled from the pleasures of the temple.
This was a night of strange occurrences and arcane customs. Venerable old priestesses wound flowers into their gray tresses and pinched the tight rear ends of beardless initiates. Sober mistresses got drunk and cavorted wildly with their mates, recalling the nights when they themselves were first united in the sacred bond of the goddess. Everywhere Edriel turned, laughing women flashed their bare breasts at him and made drunken grabs at his crotch. He was tingling with an uneasy excitement, like a child who had stayed up too late at a party.
Finally, the room grew quiet as the torches along the walls went out, leaving the sanctum unlit except for a few candles on the altar at the front. The high priestess materialized on the dais, her face lit eerily from beneath. She was completely naked, her lean, angular body covered with intricate ceremonial designs in black paint. Holding up her arms for utter silence, she began to recite the ritual invocation.
“Blessed be Akana, she whose name is Beautiful Cruelty, Terrible Pleasure, Sublime Pain.” Her voice was throaty and rumbling, resonating to the core of Edriel’s being. She looked him in the eyes as she continued the ancient prayer. “Blessed be Akana, she who kindles fire in a woman’s depths, she who gives us sway over men, who stirs up their longing for us that we may be powerful over them. Come forward, you who would be bound in her service.”
Drawing on all his fortitude, Edriel got to his feet. Everyone looked at him now, and even his friends wore serious expressions as they watched him ascend to the altar. When he reached his place beside her, Sekba placed a hand on the back of his neck in the recognized gesture for dominance and control. He lowered his head, not only to accommodate her smaller stature, but in reverence for the power she emanated, tonight above any other moment he had known her.
“Edriel, initiate of Akana, your training has been six years long. Are you prepared to give your body, your soul, your will, and your existence into the hands of the mistress that has been chosen for you by the oracle?”
Edriel nodded mutely. He wanted to say much more: That he felt a stirring within him that had waited years to be satisfied. That he would gladly have waited another six years, and then six years more, for the opportunity to worship the goddess by submitting to one of her priestesses.
Lost in thought, he jumped slightly at the touch of Sekba’s cold hands. She was buckling a red leather collar around his neck. When it was fastened, she turned silently toward the doorway at the back of the room. The pair of guards solemnly opened the double doors into the corridor.
There, solitary and breathtaking, Kephera stood draped in crimson silk. Her ivory breasts were bare, graced at the tips by small pink nipples pierced with silver rings. Her skin, translucent in the glowing candlelight, was pale and delicately veined with blue. In contrast, the belted cloth that hid her hips and thighs was deep, brilliant red. Her forehead was adorned with a fine silver chain, and in the middle was a ruby that looked like a droplet of bright blood. Jet black kohl was painted around her blue eyes, making them catlike and fiery. Between her breasts a sterling chain hung, sparkling with tiny diamonds. At the chain’s end was the symbol of Akana: a large black lion’s claw tipped with silver.
She moved wordlessly toward the altar, the crowd parting on either side of her. Her eyes never left Sekba’s; the high priestess had been her first lover, her only teacher, and her sole caretaker since childhood. She had first practiced the intricate techniques of shamaat on Sekba’s secondary mate, a docile male named Thisel. Now, as his narrow face looked respectfully out at her from the throng, she felt transformed. She had been introduced to him as a meek, fumbling girl. But tonight, her every movement was suffused with confidence. It was time to claim her rights as a novice in the priesthood.
The mate whom the oracle had chosen for her stood at the altar by Sekba’s side. For the first time, she allowed her eyes to caress his slender body. A kilt of smooth white linen clung to his every contour. Fragrant oils had been massaged into his pale skin, giving it a glowy sheen that accentuated his graceful hips and long, straight collarbone. His hair and eyes were dark, and he had a concentrated gaze that set him apart from the grinning, blushing coyness of the other initiates. Suddenly, powerfully, she felt an overwhelming desire to possess him.
The rest of the ceremony was a blur to both youths, lost in their separate thoughts. As she sang invocations in her deep voice, Sekba clipped one end of a silver chain onto Edriel’s collar and placed the other end in Kephera’s hand. Unconsciously clasping the chain until its links bit into her sweating palm, Kephera only half-listened to the initiation vows that she had waited so long to hear.
At last, the crowd parted again, and songs of worship were chanted to wild applause as Kephera led her mate back into the corridor. The heavy door swung shut behind them, and the hallway was cool and dark and silent. She could hear the collared initiate breathing heavily, and his scent of maleness teased her nostrils. Her mouth felt dry as she wrestled to restrain herself from taking him right there outside the door, while the drunken carousing continued within. Instead, she felt along the chain in the darkness until her hand rested on the back of his neck. She had seen countless priestesses make this gesture to assert dominance and ownership over their males. His skin beneath her palm filled her with a rush of possessive passion, and before she was fully aware of what she did, she pulled him down to her and bit him sharply on the back of the neck, sinking her teeth in until they were on the point of drawing blood.
A moan came from Edriel’s lips as he felt himself surrender willingly to her unspoken command. It was this moment – not the years of training, the dictate of the oracle, or the holy incantations of the high priestess – that made him truly hers. Beneath his loincloth, he felt his manhood stirring as he let himself be consumed with his desire to submit, to be owned.
He followed on the end of the chain, echoing his new mistress’ soft steps down the stone corridor. They walked a long way in tense silence though the empty temple before Kephera stopped. She pushed aside curtains still hung with celebratory flowers and led Edriel into the musky darkness of her fragrant chambers. He stood obediently and awaited her pleasure. He heard her moving around him with feline grace, making small adjustments to the furnishings and curtains. A screen was pushed across the doorway, making the airy, curtained entry into a barrier to secret them away from the goings-on of the temple.
Finally, he heard a flint being struck, and he glimpsed her silhouette from behind, outlined by the flicker of the candles she was lighting. After a moment of stillness, she turned to face him, licking her lips slowly and deliberately. She stared him down, her calm blue gaze inflaming a passion that made him feel tingly and weak.
He fell to his knees. “Permit me to worship you, my goddess.” It was a calculated risk; even on this most important of nights a male could be reprimanded for addressing his mistress without permission. He lowered his head and concentrated on her feet as she stepped toward him. Slowly, her sandaled foot inched up until it rested firmly in the middle of his bare chest. She pushed, gently but cleanly knocking him onto his back. He lay spread-eagled, his open palms facing upward and his lips parted in anticipation.
With a fluid motion, she dropped onto all fours, straddling his body. Her blonde hair hung around her heart-shaped face, and her eyes narrowed to peer at him through a veil of dangling curls. She studied every facet of his face like a child examining a new toy. Her eyes probed the fine line of his jaw and his dark, unruly eyebrows. She sprawled her palm on his bare chest, marveling at the subtle olive shade to his skin that contrasted her own milky pinkness. During this exploration she completely ignored his intently watching eyes, perusing him as if he were a sculpted figure rather than a breathing, intensely curious man.
At last she cocked her head at him, a ticklish smile crossing her face. She licked her lips unconsciously, focused so fully on him that her body seemed to act on its own. Watching his face as she went down, she lowered her head to his chest and her wet lips opened. He could feel the tingly sharpness of filed feline teeth close gently around his nipple as she held it firmly in her mouth. Her tongue circled it slowly; she was taking her time, tasting him inch by inch before she decided what to do with him. Her supple lips began to suck lavishly, and her nails dug into his shoulders as she worked, absorbed completely in the languorous process of enjoying him. Soon her strong tongue was pressing his sternum, working its way down his chest to his belly-button.
She paused there and looked up again, sizing up his reaction. Edriel lay entranced by the dreamy slowness, not yet feeling any urgency tugging at him. His manhood, however, was beginning to stiffen, encouraged by the silky brushings of her breasts against his thighs. She saw this as well, and giggled to herself softly, stroking his inner thighs with light hands. He twitched, his toes curling as he felt her warmth and her breathy attention turning to the area below his waist.
Kephera, delighting in this teasing game, casually dug her fingers in underneath his buttocks, so his own weight squeezed him down into her hands. She kneaded the fleshy orbs, massaging gently and then digging her nails in to keep him off-guard. He greeted both sensations with low moans. Now he was beginning to feel a steady burning between his thighs, and his hands scrabbled at the carpet as if to anchor him to earth while his brain felt so dizzy with sublime sensuality.
She arched her back to allow her hungry mouth access to his nipples again, and this time she alternated back and forth, sucking hard and flicking with her tongue. There was still no hurry to her movements, but she was getting quicker, more purposeful. Running her hands down his chest, she sucked and nibbled at his captivating hip-bones, provoking more moans from her newly claimed mate. From there, she ran a dry tongue up the side of his ribcage, titillating the sensitive line that ran up to the underside of his arm. Then her hot mouth was at his neck, and her teeth and tongue manipulated his earlobe, her long tongue occasionally flicking inside of his ear, navigating its crevices in a way that made him gasp and squirm with pleasure.
Unthinking, and bucking years of training, Edriel reached out to put his strong arms around her waist and pull her closer.
SLAP! The side of his face stung, and a red mark was quickly rushing in where her hand had struck his smooth cheek. Her eyes burned at him through the darkness, and he knew he had made a mistake. He suppressed a tremble at her glaring wrath, even as he grew perversely aroused with the anticipation of a satisfying punishment.
Kephera was still only for a moment, then reacted with a second rush of motion. Seizing his shoulder and the back of his head in an iron grip, she twisted him onto his belly, jabbing a knee into his side to pin him down. His breath quickened as he pressed into the floor, his manhood throbbing in expectancy. A low growl issued from his mistress’ throat as she descended on him, her teeth gripping the back of his neck in a disciplinary bite. Her hands clawed him wildly, her nails etching scratches on his shoulders and hips. Sharp teeth nipped and punctured all over his back, and her breath on him was warm and heavy.
After a while, she had worn her anger out on his smarting skin, and, unexpectedly, her tongue began to lick the wounds, caressing wetly the welts and scratches she had so recently inflicted. Her lips brushed his shoulder blades and traveled down his spine until they rested, still, on the cleft of his buttocks. Her tongue darted out to taste him there, and she nipped him, this time gently, on the left cheek just above his thigh. Edriel gasped and let out a shuddering breath. His muscles tightened, aware that what would come next would mingle pleasure and pain so drunkenly that he wasn’t sure he could endure it.
As if sensing his trepidation, Kephera signaled to him to get up, and he followed her to the bed in the center of the room. Piled with silks and downy comforters, the bed was one of the most luxurious of the temple’s love-nests. It was wide and low, with a sturdy post at each corner, wound with silk ropes and silver chains. His mistress selected an oversized cushion from the foot of the bed and laid it on the floor. Understanding, he knelt facing the mattress. Standing behind him, she placed her guiding hands on his shoulders and pushed his chest down onto the bed so that his back was straight and his belly was flat to the comforter. She moved with gliding steps to the opposite side of the bed; lifting his chin, he could see her across from him, bending to unwind a white silk rope from the bedpost. Leaning across the bed, she clasped one of his wrists and pulled it out straight, stretching it to reach the end of the rope. She expertly knotted the restraint around his wrist, making it secure but not painful, then repeated the process on his other arm, securing it to the other bedpost. He was now spread helplessly, though not uncomfortably, beneath her catlike gaze.
Satisfied with this part of her work, she moved back to the other side of the bed, kneeling behind him. She placed her warm hands between his thighs and firmly pushed them apart, opening him wide. He moaned. He knew what was coming, and his entire being burned and shivered for it.
“This is just for the first time,” she whispered, and he felt another sensuous silk rope wind around his thigh just above the knee. She drew it apart from the other leg, toward the bedpost. In a moment, the other leg was bound as well, and he knelt fully spread, his hips upraised in almost painful anticipation. “If you do well, I won’t need to use these again. They’re a part of your training.” He could feel her feathery breath as she spoke the words, her face close to the small of his back, making him tingle.
Slowly, her hand stroked down between his buttocks. He felt a creamy lubricant being applied as she rubbed him with the soft tips of her fingers. “Blessed be Akana, she who on this night of initiation looks down with pleasure upon her devoted worshipers…” Her whispery voice consecrated the act of shamaat that was about to take place. When she had finished her prayer, she brushed his back with a lingering caress and stood up, crossing back to the other side of the bed.
Edriel watched as his sensually cruel and oddly gentle mistress slipped the red silk from around her hips. Her thighs touched together in the middle, creating a womanly softness that cradled her shell-pink, smoothly shaved sex like a half-bloomed rosebud. He ached to feel himself up inside the squeezing pressure of her tight, elastic walls, and he sensed himself stiffening, his shaft pressing against the downy bed. Kephera turned and bent down, affording him a leisurely view of her white, rounded buttocks. For a moment he forgot the pull of his tight bonds, losing himself in the tantalizing view.
When she stood up, she was holding the sacred instrument, the enhaari. The instrument was a long piece of carefully crafted wood sheathed in supple leather. It was long and slightly curved like a man’s member, with a rounded head. The enhaari was mounted on a triangular leather harness with sturdy straps that fastened around a woman’s hips. On the reverse side of the harness was a smaller instrument, a soft leather nub that fit snugly to the woman’s clitoris, her sacred pleasure spot through which she could commune with the goddess.
Kephera strapped the enhaari on securely, spreading her legs to give her better access as she adjusted the inner nub to give her the most sensation. Then she moved back around so that she stood behind Edriel. She bent over him, bracing her arms on either side of his back. He shivered. She lowered her head to lick him comfortingly along the spine. The pull as his arms twitched in response reminded him that he was at her mercy, a feeling so delicious and frightening that his mouth hung open with astonishment at the intensity.
He felt her petite fingers grasp his buttocks, opening him even further as the head of the enhaari nudged between his thighs. It settled at the rim of his tightly squeezed hole, and his mistress began to apply light pressure. He let out a low groan; fear and excitement were battling within him and he found it difficult just to keep still.
Her hands strayed down to his hips and then descended along his shaft, stroking and squeezing. Edriel gasped and moaned. This was the first time a woman’s hand had touched him there, and he was full of sensations that pleased and aroused him. Dreamily, he circled his hips around, pushing back into her hands. She cupped his balls, massaging with a little more intensity as he arched his back toward her.
Then she leaned forward, working the shaft of the enhaari up into him. His jaw tightened, and his bound hands grasped the ropes tightly. He felt a consuming fullness bracing up inside him. The hard instrument penetrated slowly into his tight hole, opening him up and making him spread his legs even further apart as he arched his back and hips. There was ample pain as the shaft burrowed deeper, but it was a longing ache that made him somehow want more and more of it inside of him. He pressed back, surprising himself with his readiness to swallow the whole shaft in his clenching hole. In turn, Kephera’s hand squeezed more snugly around his member, pumping back and forth as she slid into him.
Her breath grew ragged as the nub of leather tantalized her pleasure center. Blindly, instinctually, her hips began to thrust in and out of him as she fondled and caressed his swollen manhood. The two moved in time, pounding out a fevered rhythm, their hips bucking together. Kephera’s hips made small circles, stroking Edriel’s inside walls and putting pressure on his hidden pleasure spot. When the shaft of the enhaari pushed against the spot, his knees felt weak and his own shaft twitched with ecstasy. He gasped and moaned rhythmically, his cries mingling with hers as the enhaari stimulated her own pleasure spot. She squealed and impaled him further, grasping his hips, both of them rocking in mutual pleasure that rose exponentially, becoming almost more than either could bear before it peaked, sending both into the throes of climax. Edriel’s whitish fluid sprayed the bed liberally as his bound thighs shuddered and threatened to give way beneath him. Kephera, her shaking hands holding him steady, pressed her legs together as her sticky nectar flooded the leather harness.
What seemed an hour later, she drew out of him and rose to her feet, her eyes half-closed in glowy contentment. Her hair was tousled, the kohl around her eyelids was smudgy, and her skin glistened with sweat as she moved around the bed untying her spent mate. She released her heaving hips from the straps of the enhaari and let it drop to the floor amid the scattered cushions and flower petals. Edriel’s body felt relaxed from head to toe, and his head drooped sleepily as he struggled to stand up from his prone position. Exhausted, the initiates hoisted each other into the soft mound of covers and twined together, instantly lost in the quietness of sleep, their breathing synchronizing as they drowsed together in the perfumed night.
From the drifting cosmos, the goddess Akana smiled, blessing these young ones who now belonged to each other.