Chapter 16 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1
Temmin took Barik's position behind the frame, and wrapped Issak's hair timidly around his hand. "Temmin, please," crooned Issak, lips searching. His voice held the same frantic, bare desperation Temmin heard in countless voices in the petitioning rooms--the young man begging for the release of a spanking, the muffled pleading of the woman tied to the couch--though he sensed Issak feared release as much as needed it. "Please..."
Temmin fisted the hand in Issak's hair, Issak, so composed and in control and now begging and needy. Temmin yanked him back and kissed him, a fierce, sloppy, imperfect kiss that brought Temmin more into the present, but took Issak further away.
"Keep hold of him," said Barik, kneeling on the floor. He took the last clamp, and fastened it to the skin of Issak's sac. The Embodiment jerked and howled, twisting this way and that to bite at Temmin, but he held on tight to Issak's hair.
"Soon," said Barik. "Soon. Senik, open the doors to Neya's chamber, and to the gardens." Cool nighttime air flowed in from the gardens, and with it, the excited murmur of worshippers. The large doors between the Gods' chambers opened, framing Allis: naked, bound and blindfolded like her brother, struggling against the restraints. From each nipple dangled the same clamps; two more hung from her labia. An older woman he recognized as Glaes Beloved, a woman as senior as Barik, knelt before Neya's Embodiment, gently tapping the clamps as they swung back and forth.
Anda stood behind Allis; she cupped the Embodiment's breasts, and let them fall. Allis let out an agonized growl, and Anda gave her the kiss she sought.
Temmin let go of Issak and stepped forward; Barik stayed him with a hand on his leg. "She's all right. They're both all right. It's hard the first time, watching them go through this. But every Spectacle we call the Gods, you will remember this, and wish you were in this room once more. Now go back to your station, Temmin Supplicant. Senik Postulant, it's time."
Temmin returned to his place behind Issak; he impulsively caressed the Embodiment's hair, only to draw back when Issak snarled and snapped at him. "Be careful," said Senik, handing him two of the heavy ruby pendants. "Issak's not there any more, but Nerr hasn't arrived yet. Watch Anda, and do as she does."
Allis was gone as well. A very young postulant Beloved Temmin knew as Evra gave Anda two diamond pendants, twins to the rubies; Anda slipped to the front, carefully avoiding gnashing teeth, and hung one from each nipple clamp. Allis screamed and threw her head back. "Go on, Temmin Supplicant," said Barik, and Temmin did as he was told; he fastened a ruby onto each nipple clamp. Issak stiffened and let out a strangled sound, quickly drowned out by keening from across the room. Two diamonds now dangled from the clamps on Allis's labia. She gasped and cried, settling into an almost-silent trembling; Issak trembled as well, as Barik added a ruby to the clamp between his legs.
One by one they fastened more gems to the clamps, until each one held four. Sweat poured down the twin's shuddering bodies. Their heads hung low, black hair rippling. Senik moved to one side, and put Temmin's hand on one clamp, his own on the other. "Do it quickly, Temmin. Follow my lead."
"On my mark," called Barik. "One--two--now!"
Senik and Barik whipped off the clamps; Temmin scrabbled at the grip, but was not far behind. "Press in," said Senik, and Temmin imitated him, pushing his thumb down hard and flat on the nipple. Panic rose in his throat as Issak screamed. He looked down and met Barik's eyes; the Lover nodded reassuringly as he molded Issak's balls. Allis sobbed, limp in her restraints, as Anda and Evra pressed down on her nipples, Glaes Beloved's head buried between her legs.
Abruptly, the sobbing stopped. Everyone pulled away from the Embodiments, Senik snagging Temmin by the collar and tugging him back. Smiles spread slowly across the twins' faces, and their heads rose. "They're here," said Barik. "Watch yourselves." He and Glaes removed the blindfolds. The eyes beneath glowed, a faint rose halo around the luminous green that grew to surround their entire bodies. Temmin wondered if it were a leftover from the incense he'd breathed in.
"Hello, Sister," said not-Issak.
"Hello, Brother," said not-Allis.
"Will You just let Me have you this time, or must I chase You down and prove Your desire yet again?"
An expression altogether unlike Allis--wanton, challenging--spread across Her borrowed face. "Perhaps this will be the year I outrun You."
"Liar," said the God, baring His borrowed teeth. "You let me catch You, year after year."
"Are you saying You're not as fleet of foot as I am?"
"I'm saying," said Nerr, pulling against His restraints, "that You want me, Neya. I can smell You. I can always smell You."
Neya licked Her lips. "You have to catch Me first. Let Me go, mortals, let Me go now!" Anda and Glaes worked at the straps, and once released, Neya-in-Allis gave a joyous whoop and bounded from the room into the garden, so quickly it seemed clear to Temmin She had no intention of letting anyone catch her.
"Now! Now!" howled the God. Temmin shook as he released the last strap around not-Issak's wrist. As soon as His hand was free, the God picked Temmin up by the chin, just enough to force him on tip-toe. "You, child," Nerr said in a voice that entered Temmin's bones. The God grinned, wild and frightening. "Clumsy boy. We've been waiting a long time for you." The last restraint slipped free. Nerr kissed Temmin quickly, biting his lower lip, and took off running after His Sister.
"Don't lose Him!" shouted Senik.