High Beloved Malla

Chapter 17 Part 7 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin stood before the Most High Beloved. "Am I excused as well, Most High?"

She studied him coolly. "You are excused. While I know you don't need to practice the Eight, I may say there are other disciplines you must work at more diligently--as you have been reminded before. I trust you are clear now on this matter, Temmin Supplicant?"

"Very, Most High," he bit off, all pretense at calm abandoned. He kissed her hand and retrieved his crumpled tunic from the couch, where Allis wiped the sweat from her body. He bowed. "Forgive me if I don't give the customary kiss." She gave him a serene, disinterested nod; he turned on his heel and stalked from the room. Perhaps it hadn't all been Malla's idea.

Chapter 17 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

This section is NSFW.

Winter's Ending turned into Spring's Beginning. Temmin's twentieth birthday came and went on the ninth of the spoke with little fanfare; the country was still in mourning, and he was in no mood to celebrate.

The Temple kept Temmin quite busy. Helping petitioners soothed his grief somewhat, but between sessions he walked through the rose marble halls seeing nothing but gray. His duties ran the gamut from coaching petitioners through the acts of love to helping heal emotional wounds. What he so often had in common with the petitioners was not eroticism but pain, now more than ever. "Does suffering always come with sex and emotions?" Temmin asked Barik Lover one day.

"It doesn't have to," he answered, "but it often does."

"Why?"

Chapter 11 Part 7 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

A week after the Queen's funeral, Allis handed cups of tea to the Most High Beloved and Most High Lover. The two high priests and the two Embodiments sat together in a room warmer than most Tremontine rooms, but the two old ones held the handleless winter ceramic cups close to their bodies, letting the heat sink in. Allis wondered if she would be cold all the time when she grew old. She dropped a sugar in one cup for Issak and passed it to him. "What are we going to do about Temmin?" she said.

Chapter 10 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin gave up. "I think about her all the time, Most High. When she and Issak started avoiding me I didn't know what I'd done to deserve it. I thought, I'm not understanding something, I'll just have to wait until whatever the next lesson is. I was trying to be patient. I really was." He swiped at his eyes. "And I tried to accept the obvious correction, but I couldn't. She said--she said most young men think they're in love with the first girl they lie with, but they're not." He looked up at Malla. "I do love her, Most High. It's not a passing infatuation."

Chapter 10 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin numbered among Issak's attendants for the next few days as the twins recovered from two possessions in as many spokes. Anda had once said they treated the Embodiments like glass for a whole spoke after Nerr's Day; the other six Embodiments carried their Gods once a year, and while it took a toll on them all it was doubly so for the Obbys. While the other Embodiments might serve twenty or even thirty years, the twins would last perhaps ten. They did little but eat and sleep for the first week after Nerr's Day, regaining their strength.

Temmin told himself concern for Allis made him wait for the others to leave so that he might sneak through the door between the twins' apartments. Allis's pinched and exhausted face blooming again as she slept touched him in a way that Issak's did not.

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 16 Part 9 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

A few paces ahead, Temmin had fallen in step with Anda. "I don't know if I can do this," he muttered.

"You'll be all right," she said. "I survived it. You will, too."

"Be truthful with me. Do They scare you?"

"They're Gods, of course they scare me--did Senik tell you about the time 500 years ago? If he weren't so pretty, I'd kill that man," scowled Anda. "You'll be with Neya anyway. I don't think She's fucked anyone to death, ever. I hope if it ever happens it's Senik, but he'd probably die happy."

Chapter 16 Part 4 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Steel glinted against Arta's throat, and in Temmin's imagination red bloomed against the white of her skin. But here and now, the steel wavered ever so slightly. He cast about for anything he could draw upon for guidance. He thought of Jenks: "Who are you more afraid of? The Gods, or your father?" Now that he feared for two innocents, not for himself, he wasn't sure.

Chapter 10 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin came to his tour of the Temple on Neyaday. A quiet Jenks helped the Prince dress; Temmin thought it wisest not to ask after his subdued mood, and let him have his way without complaint.

Ellika stayed in her room after the incident at Naister's, and never did send for the new dress. She found an unworn one suited for the occasion in the back of her wardrobe, and insisted on going with Temmin "just to the door if nothing else." Some of her naturally cheerful spirit made its way past the shock of Horn's death, and she came bouncing down the stairs behind her brother to take his arm. She wore a confection of white lace and ribbons against pale pink silk. "You look like a wedding cake," said Temmin, kissing the top of her head.

"Thank you! Put your gloves on, Temmy."

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