Chapter 18 Part 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Mathanus vomited on his own feet; Justinna huddled on the floor in incoherent shrieks. Temmin would have begged for Allis's life, but the stickiness filled his mouth; all he could do was cry. Nerr was going to kill her, to whip her to death, and it was his fault--beat me, kill me, Lord! he begged silently. "She bears responsibility too, never doubt it," said Nerr, raising the strap and bringing it down again. "She must bear the pain alone if she's to be of any use to My Sister."

Chapter 18 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Though it was not Malla's intent, Temmin closed his face to the world. He spent more time in the less-senior clergy's beds and gave Allis no more than his polite, rather stoic regard. He declined any assignment that might lead to physical intimacy between them--indeed, any assignment that might lead to them being alone. Supplicants were not allowed to pick and choose, but now the senior clergy let him.

As he withdrew, Allis did her best to let Temmin go. He would leave at Nerr's Day anyway, and here it was almost Neya's Day. But he stuck to her heart like a burr, a ball of tiny hooks she could never remove no matter how hard she tried. She'd done quite well at hiding the depth of her love from Issak and the Most Highs, but to herself she despaired. He would be gone soon, she would stay behind in a beautiful, pink, plush prison, and they'd rarely see one another for at least ten more years.

Chapter 10 Part 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

This section is NSFW.

Then Neya Herself glided up to the dais in all Her nakedness. In a rare display of power, She floated up to Her Brother's side. They joined hands. "Sister," said Nerr in a voice that could not be called loud but that filled the Great Hall's every corner; its force shook the gathering. "As your brother, I promise to protect you even should you fall from Our Father's favor." He gestured to the rows upon rows of flowers. "All of these, I give to You."

"Brother," she answered, "As your Sister, I thank You for Your protection and offer You all praise." She gestured to the two Supplicants at His feet. "Will You accept My gift?"

"Gladly," smiled the God, stroking Temmin's hair. Temmin closed his eyes as bliss radiated from the fingers laced among his unruly locks.

Chapter 10 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

This section is NSFW.

Nerr's Day morning brought the climax of the Embodiments' ordeals. Allis and Issak were beaten, hung on frames, tortured and drugged until their spirits buried themselves deep, leaving their hollowed-out bodies for Neya and Nerr to use. Their howls of pain and longing ceased, the rose-colored halo rippled around them, and their attendants removed the blindfolds and restraints. Allis and Issak were gone, Neya and Nerr in their places.

Chapter 6 Part 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

This section is NSFW.

They were in range of the lights now, and Twenna could see her rescuer was a man in late middle age wearing a Lover's rose-colored clothing; row after row of elaborate embroidery at the hems marked him as high-ranked, very high-ranked indeed and yet he still patrolled on Neya's Day. Close-cropped, graying hair crowned his balding head but for a little curl of a queue at his nape; limitless kindness filled his large brown eyes. "Who may I thank for my rescue?" she asked.

"My name is Barik Lover, and it's customary in the Temple to say 'thank you' with a kiss. May I?"


Chapter 6 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

This section is NSFW.

Twenna watched them leave in horror. He'd cut her. He'd cut her in front of his wife and hadn't given her a backward glance. It couldn't mean what it appeared to mean. This had to be something about appearances, but why had he gone to so much trouble to have her admitted if he'd intended to leave with his wife? There must be a reason, a reason she wasn't clever enough to understand. He loved her; she took comfort in that certainty. He would send for her later, surely.

The swaying lanterns planted in the lawn took on a cold look, less like soft yellow moons and more like predatory eyes. What would she do now? She knew no one in the crowd who might protect her, no man she might trust not to take advantage of the Neya's Day festivities. She stayed close to the fierce-looking Lovers in armor still standing beside the royal dais, in hopes one of them might have been given instructions to escort her, but the workers disassembled the dais and took it away, along with the Temple's Own and her hopes.

Chapter 6 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

This section is NSFW.

They ran along the gardens' lit paths, until they came to the wide expanse of lawn between the formal gardens and the grove of trees stretching dark and wild toward the river. Lantern-bearers hurried behind the runners, waiting to stake out a path for the worshippers. Behind them, muscular Lovers loitered with sections of a portable dais; the King and Queen attended the Spectacle this year and would be given a proper viewing platform wherever the Lovers happened to fall.

Fall They finally did, on the lawn near the fringe of the forest, but first Neya and Nerr led them all a chase through the trees, whipping rhododendron branches back into Their followers' faces to Temmin's great irritation. When they assembled the guarding circle round the Gods, they were all breathing hard; Justinna Postulant had lost her vest, the flounce on Anda's best skirt had ripped clean off, and Mathanus's blond hair resembled a haystack more than ever.

Chapter 6 Part 1 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The First Day of Spring's Beginning, 991 KY

Twenna Shelstone stepped down from her father's carriage into the throngs crowding the Lovers' Temple for the Neya's Day Spectacle. An orderly procession flowed from the Promenade to the Temple garden gates, where the Spectacle would be held. Postulants and servants bore hundreds of bright lanterns through the crowded gardens until every leaf seemed illuminated. Twenna fretted to be without even a footman to look after her, but she reassured herself. Harsin had said Winmer would find her there and protect her from unwanted advances.


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