Chapter 16 Part 8 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1
Temmin, Senik, Anda and Evra pelted after him, Barik and Glaes following behind at a more dignified pace. The gardens were packed with people on both sides of many wide paths lined with lanterns; Neya might have gone down any of them, but Nerr seemed to know Her path.
Through the flowers, the sculpture garden, almost into the Temple and out onto the street Neya-in-Allis led them, until they were far out onto the grassy lawns, where there were no people or lanterns; Temmin followed Senik's back, the only thing his still-unaccustomed eyes could clearly see. Two screams came piercing from the darkness ahead, one triumphant, one enraged. "He's caught Her," said Senik. "Lights!"
A small fleet of clerics hurried from behind in a long stream, marking the Gods' trail with lanterns for the crowd to follow. They flowed forward, reaching the Gods at the same time as Temmin's group to form a circle of light and bodies around the struggling forms on the ground. "We provide protection during the Spectacle," said Senik, tugging him into a loose ring of Lovers and Beloveds surrounding the Gods.
"Who would hurt a God?" said Temmin.
"Oh, no," called Anda from a few paces away. "We're protecting the people. Fools sometimes try to join in. Instant death."
By now, the crowds had found them; they surged against the circle, held back from the ring of protectors by an outer ring of lantern-bearers who, now that Temmin had a moment to look around him, were of the Temple's Own. Inside the circle, Allis struggled to get away from Issak--no, it wasn't them, Temmin reminded himself--until Nerr pinned Neya so firmly she could not get away. She snarled and thrashed, strong even in Allis's small, soft body.
Warfare gave way to laughter. "I surrender!" cried Neya, weak with giggles. "I surrender!"
"You are once again Mine?" said Nerr, grinning down on Her.
"I am My own, Brother, this year and all years, forever and ever. But I share. Now kiss Me, before I change My mind!" Nerr leaned down and kissed Her, almost chastely. "Ah, Brother," She whispered in her borrowed voice, "how I miss You when We have no form! We were never meant to be two. Be One with Me tonight!"
"Be one with Me tonight, Sister!" Nerr and Neya's kiss turned from tender to voracious, almost a devouring. They were so very beautiful, a sight indeed, but the whole situation--the possession, the incest, the watching crowd--made Temmin more and more nervous. Neya climbed atop Her Brother, and Temmin turned away, cheeks hot against the night air. Allis's voice cried out in ecstasy, and the crowd matched it with an appreciative growl.
It would be different if he didn't know the twins. The avid faces coming and going in the lantern light didn't know them; Allis and Issak were almost abstractions, as real to most of the worshippers as a pair of statues.
The figures inside the circle shifted positions again and again--for Temmin had given up turning his head away and watched with a mixture of revulsion, desire and curiosity. The streams of people came and went, disappearing two by two and sometimes more into the dark; distant cries filled the air.
In time, a great deal of time, Nerr rolled off His Sister, and They lay side by side in the grass stroking one another's faces and crooning in a language only They understood, a musical, blissful, terrible crooning, the sounds of a voluptuous, erotic nightmare. The crowds began to thin; the blessing was over. Those who had received it had gone off to do their yearly duty, bestowing the blessing themselves among the leaves and grasses of the fields and forests. Those who had finished their duty were drifting back toward the dais near the Temple to witness Temmin's dedication and get one more glimpse of the Gods.
Nerr-in-Issak sat up. "This body is wonderful, very strong and responsive. It suits Me," He said in Tremontine. He stretched Issak's strong arms and legs, and patted the still-erect cock. "I'm almost tempted to keep it."
"Twice a year in a body is fun. Being trapped in a body, a crumbling, decaying thing however beautiful at first, is not. It's a bore. Better to borrow than to buy," said Neya-in-Allis. She stood up, pulling Her Brother to His feet after Her. Dirt and grass fell from Their bodies in a pittering rain around their feet, leaving Them clean and unsullied.
"Anda!" cried Nerr. He swept the round Supplicant into the air, swinging her high off her feet before putting her down and kissing her soundly. "Have you forgotten Me yet?"
For the first time since Temmin had known her, Anda blushed. "My Lord, You will forget me. I will never forget You."
"I never forget a maidenhead, sweetheart," He said, tweaking Anda's nipple.
"And this time, it's My turn," said Neya. She slid a finger inside Temmin's red linen shirt. "Adorable." She clapped Her hands together. "We have much to do, and while We have all the time in the world, you do not, little mortals." She strode off down the path arm in arm with Nerr, the lantern-bearers keeping a buffer around the informal procession as they walked back through the gradually thickening crowds near the Temple. Petals floated through the air, thrown in offering from the sidelines.
Temmin fell back to where Senik walked, one arm around a rugged blonde Lover and the other around Evra Postulant. "And how does the evening find you, Temmin Supplicant?" said Senik. "Wait, I know--it finds you terrified."
"I am not terrified," huffed Temmin.
"Don't worry. I don't think She'll hurt you. Nerr fucked someone to death once, but that was well over 500 years ago, and it was an accident."
"You're not helping!" Temmin stalked back to the front of the procession, hoping to find more sympathy from Anda.
"That was rather cruel," said the rugged blonde Lover.
Senik shrugged. "The world does not revolve around his navel. He'll be all right. Besides," he growled, biting at the other man's earlobe, "you like it when I'm cruel."
"True," sighed the rugged blonde Lover.