Senik

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 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 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 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

His sisters were standing before the empty hearth, chatting aimlessly with the beautiful Senik Lover. The girls turned to the door, both smiling, both holding small cases. Sedra dressed with customary restraint in a simple gown of opulent, thistle-colored silk. She wore simple bob earrings, amethysts dusted a long golden chain round her neck, and fragrant white orange blossoms winked in her dark plaits like jewels in a crown. She made no attempt to conceal her height; she stood straight as a dancer and towered majestically over her fair-haired sister, already queen-like.

As promised, Ellika's aquamarine gown contrasted perfectly with the rose marble of the Temple. Soft, creamy gauze trimmed its low neckline and swathed her shoulders; on its bodice, tiny pearls traced the traditional Nerr's Day horn-and-flower pattern woven into the fabric. Ropes of the same pearls threaded through her golden curls. Its extravagance bordered on the ridiculous and suited her utterly.

Chapter 17 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

In the days after his investiture, Temmin fetched and carried for Allis and Issak. To Temmin's relief, the bloom was creeping back into Allis's face, and Issak no longer looked as if someone had crumpled him up and thrown him away--though Someone had, thought Temmin.

Even so, Temmin saw little of them. He lived the unglamorous life of a Postulant. He got lost a lot. He joined a class of newly minted Postulants studying anatomy: not the obvious kind, but the kind in which one learned the names of the bones of the hand. He kissed an extraordinary number of people. Senik hadn't been joking: in the Temple, a kiss meant "Hello," "Goodbye," "Thank you," "You're welcome," and occasionally, "What are you doing after anatomy class?" He learned to sleep through Anda snuffling her tuneful little snore in the bed opposite, and, rarely, in his bed beside him.

Temmin did not miss the Keep, at all, but he did miss his mother and sisters, and especially Jenks. Temmin sent several messages to them and had given up ever hearing back, when one day Senik called Temmin to a receiving room. "A representative from your father, I believe," he said.

It was Winmer.

Chapter 17 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Temmin woke up, unsure whether he'd been dreaming or if the lovemaking really had gone on all night after the visions. He remembered slipping into Neya over and over, holding Her in his arms as Nerr took Her, kisses that left him blind, breasts and hands and mouths and cocks, but a film overlayed it all, turning it indistinct and hallucinatory: a terrifying, ecstatic fever dream. Again, there were no windows in the room, and he couldn't gauge the time.

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!"

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.

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