Chapter 17 Part 1 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

The chanting of Temmin's name glided under the Chambers' closed doors to the gardens; inside, it was still. Temmin floated lightheaded, as he had near the incense smoke. The idea that perhaps he'd been enchanted flitted through his mind until Neya took his hand and led him to the low, enormous bed in the middle of the room. His mind emptied into the shifting present of animals: no past, no future, only now, as it had been in that brief moment in the chapel, the now-wordless, soundless voice singing all around him, no longer small.

Beside the bed stood many ritual offerings of cakes and candies, stacked in towers of intricately patterned pink and white. "Sweets!" exclaimed Neya, seizing several delicate little crescent moon-shaped cakes, and popping a white chocolate bonbon into her mouth. "The best in years. Sweets of all kinds," she smiled at Temmin. She slipped a sticky pink confection between his lips. "One to stop your tongue, sweet Temmin. This is a night of secrets," She said. "You will not speak of this night ever, to anyone, you will share the blessings you receive in this bed in Our service for two years and two days, and you will use the wisdom We give you the rest of your life. Do you agree?"

"Yes, of course, Lady," he answered.

Neya smiled and kissed his hands. "There is no creature sweeter than a young mortal. So agreeable, so pliant. Now," she said, "show Me what you know about women." Temmin looked down into Her eyes. His mother appeared first, full of comfort and love. "She is important, certainly, but she is in the realm of Amma--mostly," murmured the Goddess. Then his sisters, Ellika at the forefront, so like their mother in her gold-and-cream looks, and Sedra behind her, so like their mother in her stormy temperament. "These women are mysteries for later," chuckled the Lady.

Next came Alvo. "He is not a woman. We are talking about women, not sex, Supplicant. In your time with My Brother, you will explore this one."

Mattie followed, her face tear-stained and frightened, and Temmin felt his stomach sink even through the euphoria. Then Emmae, spirited and strong even in her subjugation. Arta--a wrench at his heart--her innocence and tenderness turned against her, because of him. Anda, voluptuous and gleefully forthright. And finally Allis herself, knowing and wistful, the mystery.

He scrabbled for the commonalities, a joining thread, but found none. "I don't think I know anything about women. The women I know are all different." His eyes teared up; Senik was right, he knew nothing, he was a disappointment. "I'm sorry."

Neya smiled. "Wise little one, that's the first thing one must learn about women. Lie down. You will learn something else, a secret. Are you ready? Taste a Goddess." She straddled his head and lowered herself down until Her folds were the boundaries of the world.

At first, She tasted of the ocean, salty and clean, as if water swirled around him; he lapped at it, searching for its source. Then came earth, loam rich and dark, and green things growing. A bitterness arose, herbal and strong, but as he licked it turned to honey, thick on his tongue. He let out a muffled moan and drew every bit of Her he could into his mouth.

No time, no place, only Her, until a mouth slid down his length. Temmin had forgotten Nerr, but remembered now as His tongue worked on him. It was far too much, far too soon; he would never last. He tensed in panic.

Neya shifted, lifting him out of his fears and into the moment; once more, Her taste and smell were everywhere, and everything. How could he worry? He breathed in as deeply as he could: roses and sandalwood, and then the scent of the broom growing around Whithorse, the herbs that Jebby crushed under his hooves as they rode over the hills. His heart swelled with love for his home. He loved the Lady above him, he loved the Lord beside him, he loved his land, he loved his people, he loved the world. Love pulsed through him until it burst from every pore, a gushing of ecstasy leaving him blind and deaf but for the rushing of his blood.

Temmin's first thought when he returned to full consciousness was that he'd come too soon; They would be angry. And yet, a hand held his cock; he was still hard. He hadn't come at all, though he could swear he had. Two tongues licked his face, catlike, cleaning him. When he opened his eyes, They had finished and were kissing one another above him.

Neya sank down beside him on one elbow. "Now I shall reward you. Ask any question you'd like. Anything. I will answer you truly."

Temmin's brain struggled to string words together, let alone a question. "Did I please you?" he finally said in a thick voice.

Nerr burst out laughing. "A chance to ask a Goddess a question, and you ask that!"

"Did I say the wrong thing?" said Temmin, struggling to sit up.

"That's two questions," said Neya. "To answer the first, yes. Your eagerness to please made up for your lack of finesse. In time you will have a very talented tongue, little Prince."

"That's good," he said, shaking his head to clear it. "That's...what just happened? I came, but I didn't."

Nerr squeezed him at the root until his eyes fluttered. "You will always be ready when you are with Us. We'll give you many releases, but you will not spend, you will not shoot your seed unless we allow it. Your pleasure belongs to Us."

"Enough," said Neya. "I wish to enjoy this gift."

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