Darynn had sworn decades earlier that he would always consider his life a lesson and himself a student. Although his opportunities to experiment with the opposite sex numbered beyond his counting he had never once actually paid any attention to them or their needs. Awrthom had made him a man of men, in a world of their own without want or need of women.
Aimee' changed that. She had occupied his thoughts for the entire week, from the previous Gayobi to the present. In that time he had done a little asking around, and had learned some things about Teltirray's tastes that bothered him. According to his friend Bethsany, the mistress of the local brothel, Teltirray had become more violent in the last decade, although she had as little idea why as Darynn did. He found himself hoping that Teltirray's violence didn't extend to Aimee' and that he wouldn't hurt her in the days between her lessons. As the hour approached he found himself rubbing his hands together before the fire and assembling his story for the evening in his mind.
The knock came at the door none too soon. "Come in," he said, attempting to make his voice behave in a manner befitting an archmage. Inside, a corner of his spirit laughed at him; surely he did no better than any poor boy at his first occasion with a woman! And he, nigh unto a century old!
The door opened and Aimee' entered. "I have come for my second lesson, sir, with your permission."
"You have it. No, not the stool again. Come, here, sit by me before the fire." Nervously the girl crossed the flagstone-and- mortar floor and then his precious white yeti-fur rug. The rug had been the lesser of two prizes he had won from a battle with such a creature destroying many a town to the Northeast. He smiled, remembering the greater prize; a boy named Darrick.
"Settle yourself against those blue pillows. Right." She sat down, her body trembling slightly. He looked her over; bruises adorned both of her arms and one smaller stood out even against the reddish skin of her chin. Darynn winced and determined further to teach her the arts of self-preservation and defense as well as those of pleasure.
"If you ever have need to speak, Aimee', do so freely. Now, tonight I shall tell you my second story and you will do something for me. You will remove your clothing."
She reached for her tunic instantly. "Wait," he said. "I did not tell you to remove your clothes. I said you will remove your clothes. I shall not tell you when."
"Then how will I know when to do so?"
"Aimee', I said you may speak freely, but you will address me as 'sir.'"
"Yes, sir. How will I know when to remove my... my clothes?"
"When you feel ready, Aimee', to take off an article of clothing, I want you to. But not before then."
Confusion crossed her face as Darynn knew it would. Nobody ever gave slaves the right to address their own feelings. Instead, slaves behaved as ordered and came to hear every whim of a superior as an order. By permitting her access to her own simple desires, Darynn hoped she would unwittingly open herself to her deeper emotions. Sometimes boys in his service cried for hours when he did this, and afterwards the passion from them exceeded even Darynn's fading memory of his for Awrthom. He lived for those moments.
But did a woman have those same feelings and same methods of bottling them up and controlling them? Darynn wanted to find out.
"Y... yes, sir."
"Now then, I shall tell you another tale. This one comes from my learning amidst the Megass, and of one special Megassi named Ryuchia."
In my twentieth year Awrthom called me a man, told me he had no more to teach me, and bid me go into the world to find my future. I had no wish to leave, Aimee', for I loved him. Not just physically, although certainly that phrasing-- "I loved him"-- had certainly come true by then.
I cried piteously. I wept for myself and I had learned to weep for him, Aimee', because Satyrs have nothing but themselves and their passions. Awrthom allowed himself no past, no future, nothing but the immediacies of his present pleasures. Although I wished to stay in that Satyric haze for all of my existence, I knew that he and I did not belong to the same worlds. I needed to seek my destiny elsewhere.
He gave me money. I gave most of it to my parents to help them over my disappearance. I even had a younger brother by then. I left them in the worst way possible, I think. I stole out of the house one night leaving only the money and a note. I think by that time father suspected something about my relationship with Awrthom, although he never said a word and I think he trusted my wisdom.
I will not bore you with the details of the travel, Aimee'. Awrthom sent me on a path into the mountains in search of a city the Megassi called Hakkana and a Megass named Desa.
I knew little of the Megassi except for legends, Aimee'. I knew that they had grown from the ranks of Dragonkind by virtue of their intelligence and their capacity for magic, and I knew that even satyrs spoke in warm, awestruck whispers at the magic they achieved through the exercise of their honest lusts.
"Master?" she interrupted him.
"May I remove my boots, sir?"
"Aimee, I told you that you may remove your boots when you feel the time has come for you to remove your boots, and such with the rest of your clothes. You do not need to ask me. If you never feel that time tonight, I understand. I do not want to make any such demand of you. Understand?"
"I... I think so. Please, sir, do not let me interrupt your story."
As I approached Hakkana I sometimes saw Megassi circling between peaks in the mountains. The road I walked led through those mountains and, according to one scrawled sign I passed, across a pass that had claimed the lives of over a dozen men. The sign, too, warned of Dragons in those mountains, but I rationed that I had survived capture and rape and even the love of a satyr. A Dragon could do no worse.
I camped in the hills the day before, and come morning began my ascent for the pass. I hoped that the Dragons would find me before then. Find me they did. Two swooped down from the high places in the mountains, flying over me in great, sweeping passes. Red-scaled and massive, their wings beat the air as they flew past and the wind they kicked up blew into my eyes and stung with fierce pain. I had learned magic to alleviate that pain and so use it, giving myself a chance to stand and examine my examiners.
[Who are you ?] the first one demanded, his voice shouting in my head like a great storm.
"I call myself Darynn, as my father named me! Awrthom, Lord of the Satyrs of Daber Wood has sent me to meet with Desa Megass of Hakkana."
[You have a great many friends,] the one spoke again. [You may pass unharmed and without tribute unto the gates of our city. But if you have lied, your suffering will amuse us for days.]
Speaking honestly, I had hoped for a ride. Dragons do not have kindness as we know it, Aimee.' Ah, I see you smile at my little joke. And your boots have walked away on their own. Good.
I walked for the day and through the night and near dawn I found the gates of the great city of Hakkana. I slept there at the base of those monstrous gates.
A pain in my leg awakened me hours later. "You," the voice said. I looked up into the face of the first landed Megass I had ever met. The young of the Megass perform the city duties for their elders, and this one, barely nine feet long and still unencumbered enough to have full use of his forearms, apparently served as a guard.
"I... my apologies, my lord Megass. I have come seeking an audience with Desa Megass."
The Dragon turned his head to me and I saw him smile. "You know interesting friends if you know of Desa Megass. Very well, we will show you the way to Desa Megass, young mage."
He led me past the gates and into the city of Hakkana. City? No, Hakkana covered an entire plain with its construction. The great beauty of vaulted marble only served to introduce the marvels of engineering that surrounded me.
The plain apparently sat as an elevated valley surrounded by mountains.
Most people know only rumors of the growth cycle of the Megassi, but it's relatively easy to understand. Aimee', have you ever watched a caterpillar turn into butterfly? You know of the sleeping process caterpillars undergo? The Megassi have the same sort of growth, Aimee', only their caterpillar shape resembles our shape, human. Or elven, I suppose. They built the central city of Hakkana for that shape; they spend the first fifty years of life shaped in our way. These young administer the city as it relates to the world; they perform the roles of merchant and agent to the adult Megassi.
Somewhere in their fifth or, perhaps, late sixth decade, they begin to undergo the great change. They do not sleep though the change, Aimee'; every day they awake knowing that they have begun to change their shape, begun to change into Dragonkind. Many move awkwardly at this time; They have no reason to learn to live with a shape that will not feel the same tomorrow as it does today. My guard, apparently, had some control of his faculties. He spoke well, and he moved without clumsiness.
As I said, the central city is built for the young who are shaped as Men, but beyond that the buildings grow ever larger and more impressive, housing as they do the various centuries of the Megassi Dragons. The architecture is utterly alien; the homes on the plain look as if they were grown, or like bubbles on the water, but made from a stone the color of which pleases the owner. The most common color is white, although some are red, black, green, or yellow. The mountains that surround the plain are riddled with caves in which sleep the Great Elders. Very few live that old; most succumb to disease, or madness. Some to spiritual decay that leaves them lifeless and suicidal.
I was surprised that the guard led me to the central city. I had expected Desa Megass to be an elder Dragon, and I inquired of it. "He is," the guard replied. "But you are to be taken to the center to meet him."
The great city of domes passed as we walked, and the houses began to take on more familiar shapes. I saw Megassi young going about their businesses, cleaning windows and fixing roofs. They waved pleasantly as we walked; they are not a mysterious people, not the young. They are as easily understood as you and I.
The guard led me to a circular building, a squat cylinder topped with a cone roof. The door was made of wood and not large enough to admit him. He knocked. A Megass youth answered the door. "What may I do for you, sir?"
"This human claims to know of Desa Megass and would like entry."
The youth looked at me, and I examined him in return. His skin seemed pliant, but it still looked as a snake's: covered in fine scales and tinted with a greenish hue. His yellow eyes had vertical slits, much like a cat's, and they sat in shallow, reflective pools that regarded me carefully. "Yes, I know of him as well," he said finally. "Admit him. I thank you, elder sir, for your kindness."
"May your change await you with pleasure," the guard said, leaving me standing outside the door.
"Come in, come in," the Megass said. "Sit down. I am Kirustan. Desa will join us in a moment."
I found a seat and examined the room. It seemed as any common home, although perhaps a little better aired than my own. The construction was as solid as any Castle, a privilege of its origin. The chairs were likewise made of stone, and I knew that it would take all my thew just to move one a few inches.
In the floor there was set a circular staircase leading downwards into the very rock. From here I heard the sound of approaching footsteps, and I shall never forget what walked up from that place. It was shaped as human, but it was of no human origin. The body reflected light as if made of polished silver. It had no imperfections; indeed in places it looked too perfect, gleaming and smooth. Its eyes shone with a strange yellow light. The ears looked elven, wide at the base and pointed towards the top. As it regarded me it smiled, and the silver seemed to flow as if it was quickened. "Darynn."
"You... you know me?"
"Indeed I do," the creature replied. "I am Desa Megass, or at least, what you will see of me." It chuckled deeply. "In good truth, I sleep many miles from here. My spirit houses this form while the other sleeps. In here, I cannot do magic, but that is no matter. I find the world of the children exciting, and the beauty and song I hear here I weave into the waking magics of my Dragonself." It picked up a stone chair like a feather and placed it down before me, then sat down. "Now then, Darynn, tell me what brings you here."
I told him, Aimee'. I told him everything. Of my hopeless love for the Satyr Awrthom, of the magics he had taught me, of his sending me here. The tale took over two hours. When I was done, Desa nodded. "You are what I have been looking for, and I am in Awrthom's debt for the gift he has sent me."
"Yes," Desa nodded. "Although I cannot do magic in this shape, Darynn, I can still teach it. I can still guide students who need learning. I have a... a failure, I fear. Perhaps you can help me change that."
"Quiet, Darynn. You are my apprentice now."
I thrilled to hear that, Aimee', to be told by this magical being that it had accepted me as an apprentice. I glanced to the window where Kirustan leaned, casually. He grinned at me, as if amused. I wondered what his role' was in Desa's existence, and if I was staking a claim to something he felt he already possessed. Nevertheless, he seemed earnestly pleased to hear of my acceptance.
"I have several apprentices, Darynn. You are to... Kirustan, leave us."
"Immediately, sir," the young Megass said, taking his leave by the same staircase Desa had arisen from.
"I am sorry; I do not know of your comfort or concern being a lover of men and things male, Darynn, and I did not want to embarrass you in front of my other young apprentice. I should have dismissed him before you told your tale."
"It is the past, sir, that tale. I am not ashamed of what I am."
"Good," he said. "Because it is, in part, what you are that makes you so valuable to me. I have an apprentice that I took while he was still in Manform, thirty years ago. He learned quickly, as I promise you, you will. His name is Ryuchitoran. I fear he has not long to live.
"Ryu, as I call him, was born with two problems. I have trouble deciding some days which makes his life more unbearable. The first is that he, like you, strongly prefers his own sex to that of the other. This happens from time to time; often there are enough of that kind to keep each other happy, and they are of no trouble to the rest of us. At mating time, even with reluctance most of them perform admirably, and the females among them I suppose hold their noses and wait for it to be over; the bodily joy of bearing eggs is something even they admit to liking, even if they dislike the process required to get there.
"But Ryu has a second, more troubling problem. After his change, it became obvious. Ryu is a runt."
"Ryu is growing very slowly. At the present he is only twelve feet long, and four of that is his tail. This is not a midform, Darynn; Ryu is all Dragon at this point. But he sleeps with the daily fitfulness of a youth and he grows but slowly, if at all." Desa fell momentarily silent, thinking. "My newer apprentices frequently learn the physical basics from their elder peers. Ryuchitoran is one of my eldest students, and you will be his first. One of the things every sorcerer must learn is how to teach, to pass on what he knows. It's time Ryu learned a skill he will need in his old age, even if he does not expect to get there.
"But in the process, young Darynn, you must do something else. If Awrthom did not lie about the size of his manhood, you will not find Ryuchia threatening. Few, if any, of the older Dragons among his kind show any interest in him; he is too small, and frequently too depressed. I ask that you volunteer for this, Darynn: Seduce him. Give him someone to feel lust for. You will have the tools, and the skills of sexual magic that Awrthom has given you tell me that you are the best person to do so. I will visit you often to give you guidance in your studies. I encourage you to seek your power in the pleasures of your body." The silver grinned again. "Encourage Ryuchia to assist you."
He was asking me to become the friend and lover of someone who, as he admitted, was a dark and depressing soul. But a Dragon soul, nonetheless. And I had come to Hakkana to learn from him, so I supposed that would be the price I would bear. Not that I was completely against his plan, Aimee', for it had been several months since I had loved, or even touched, another, and I think my youthful manhood got the better of me. I agreed on the spot, a bit overwhelmed by lustful images of myself entwined with a Dragon.
"Do you accept?"
I spoke immediately, anxious to move forward. "Sir, I do."
He nodded. "Excellent. Come with me, and I will introduce you to your new teacher." He stood and led me out into the street.
As he led me out amidst the youthful construction, I marveled at the sights surrounding me. The city was huge, Aimee', indescribable. I have seen only one city this large since then, Aimee, and that is Arisanti. Yes, I have been there.
The low domes and bubbles that were the Megassi homes cast shadows on one another, and I was to learn that arguments about who possessed the right to another's heat were vocal and common. Although the circle wherein the young abounded in trees and bushes, beyond was only plain red stone upon which their marvelous houses were built.
"This is his," Desa announced, pointing to a dome immediately to our right. As large as others nearby, it was the brown of a duck's egg, and it glistened with the sunlight. Desa led me around. "The door is at an angle to the regular direction of the wind. In that way, a Dragon may leave his home open and not have wind blow about inside, but may step out and take wing instantly." We came to a seam in the side of the dome, a seam that ran up many feet out of sight. He knocked.
I know not the construction of the Megassi doors, but I would like to know. Like the wings of a beetle, the doors spread open, making barely a sound as they did so. "Inside," Desa said.
The smell inside had a slightly stale taste to it. Desa looked at me curiously. "Describe it."
"The smell. It's foremost in your expression, young human. Describe it to me."
I did, including the stale taste and an odd, burning smell, like old rope set ablaze. He nodded. "Ryu has not been keeping his house in order." He cupped his mouth with his hands as if to amplify his voice, and shouted "Ryuchitoran!"
"Master!" As my eyes adjusted from the blazing sun outside to the darker interior, I began to see details. The center of the house rose many feet above my head. Along the interior walls platforms circled at regular intervals, providing many landing spaces for a creature used to life airborne. A bright circle of light landed on the stone floor of the dome, indicating an opening at the center of the dome where Dragons could enter while airborne. From the opposite side of the dome, two rings up, a Dragon shuffled to the edge, gripped a cylindrical brass railing and launched himself into the air. His wings spread wide and he floated down to the central floor. "I am at your service."
"That is good, Ryu, because my request of you is very difficult. I have an apprentice that I wish you to train."
"Me? Sir..." I examined Ryuchitoran closely. He was as Desa had described him; a fully formed Dragon, but only eight feet in height, a four-foot tail behind him. His scales appeared soft and supple, white tinged lightly with green, much as I had described Kirustan. His body was wide in the middle, and his wings spread out at least as long as his body in each direction. On his tail the fans that helped control his flight opened and closed reflexively. His face expressed every feeling, and even I could read them.
"When do I meet him, sir?"
Desa's silvered shape turned to me. "Ryuchitoran, this is your junior apprentice, Darynn. Darynn, this is Ryuchitoran."
"A human?" I was concerned that Ryuchitoran would view me with disdain, but instead he seemed earnestly pleased to have me as his apprentice. "Wonderful! But please don't call me Ryuchitoran. All those syllables get in the way. Ryu is fine."
"Ryu, then," I said, laughing. He was certainly not what I had expected. "It's still Darynn."
"Of course it is!" Ryu returned to his teacher and said, "What are my duties, sir?"
"We have provisions for him, Ryu. He needs lodging, however, and occasionally a translator. He will be learning the basics from us, although I believe he has a broad knowledge already."
Ryu looked at me. "How long have you been studying?"
"Can you fly?"
"A... A little," I admitted. "I need practice."
"Then your first lesson will be about sleeping," Desa said. "Ryu, you know where to lodge him."
"Indeed I do," Ryuchia said. "There are six rings to my home, counting the floor, and you will sleep on the second." I breathed a sigh of relief; the second ring did not seem so far away. Ryu smiled, showing his teeth, a sight which I admit frightened me somewhat. "We Dragons are of the air, and we do not measure our homes the way you do." I realized his meaning and my gaze moved up to look at the two rings all the way at the top of the dome. Ryu followed my gaze and nodded. "Exactly."
"I... I can't make it all the way up there."
"Of course you can," Desa said. "Even I can see that. Ryu, I leave you with your apprentice and his devices. Darynn, take care. I will see to you in two days. In the meantime, take your learning from Ryu."
Ryu spread his winds and kicked into the air, circling around his home until he reached the second ring. "Come on, Darynn. Join me."
I swallowed hard, closed my eyes, and remembered what Awrthom had taught me about flying. I leaned my head back and opened my eyes. My destination grew closer, and I began to feel the great drag of the ground as I moved further and further away from it. The ground is jealous of the bodies that rise from its dust, Aimee', and is not so giving when we want to leave it.
As the railing grew closer the lift grew easier. I reached out for the brass rail that was apparently a fixture of each level. On beautiful metal supports it hung away from the wall, just above the level of the floor, giving Dragons something to hold.
I climbed over the railing and sat down on the stone of the ring before realizing that I had not removed my pack. I had managed to fly maybe five dozens of feet with at least fifty pounds extra on my back. I felt good. "Is it the air?"
"It is you!" Ryu said, laughing. "You looks so stunned, Darynn. In any event, this was once my home, when I was a youth and so had a youth's bed. My father, who used to live in this dome, moved far away, and I inherited it from him."
It had a bed, although when I pulled the top sheet up dust flew, making me cough. "Sorry," Ryu said. "I haven't had time to really clean this place the way it should."
"I'll manage. Where might I find a broom?"
"Fourth ring," Ryu replied, grinning. "Over there." He gestured with a wing, and a beam of light shot from a wingtip to indicate the broom.
I surprised myself again by retrieving the broom and returning to the second ring, although by that time I was worn out and quite sure that I was done with flying for the day. "What brings you to Hakkana, Darynn?"
"I was sent to find Desa at the request of my former master, who had taught me all he could."
Ryu's head tilted slightly, as if confused. "You sound sad when you say that."
"Do I?" I asked. "I was not measuring my love for him on the basis of his teaching. His sending me away hurt a great deal. Moreso than that I left my parents, for they would not understand the son he returned to them."
"What is your teaching, then?"
I tried to think of a big word for what I was, something ostentatious. But I could not, and eventually I told the truth. "Sex magic."
Ryu didn't laugh at me as I expected. No, he took me quite seriously. "I thought that was difficult for male humans to learn. Not enough partners to practice with or something."
"It can be," I said. "There are exceptions."
Ryu nodded and didn't press the matter. "I'll leave you to clean up your room. If you desire privacy, there are sheets that can be hung from the hangers that ring this room and the next. I used the room to the right for ritual research."
I nodded. "Thank you."
"Thank you for being welcome in my home," Ryu said earnestly. "I'll check on you in a while." He stepped off the edge of the ring and vanished, apparently dropping like a stone. I heard a soft 'thwap' of his wing as he landed on the ring where he slept now.
Days and weeks passed by like flashes, Aimee'. I cannot describe the next six months because they are entirely a blur. My skill as a metalsmith garnered me much respect, and Desa suggested I direct at least some of my magical skill in that direction as well. It was probably the most propitious decision I ever made, because the resulting tools I constructed out of alloys of silver and steel accelerated the outpouring of power I could achieve in short times. My nature became more obvious as I crafted my staff, tipped as it was with obvious phallicism. More importantly, the actual working spindles and dildos, made of various alchemical woods, enabled me to reach heights I had never thought possible.
The only aspect of this I have any pride in, however, is my sense. I did not, I don't believe, ever aspire to more power for evil reasons. My desires were pure. I wanted to be a mage; I wanted to be the best. More than once I had an opportunity to grow faster, but at the expense of either Ryuchitoran or Kirustan or another apprentice, and those I would not do.
As the months rolled by, I began to feel the immense sadness that was a part of Ryuchitoran. My senses were being honed by the exercises Desa gave me, and more importantly, they were being honed outwards. A sex mage learns to feel his insides, learns to know every inch of himself and what one should apply where to make those feelings grow and manifest themselves. But Desa had no interest in an apprentice who couldn't see, Aimee', and so forced me into physical exercises to maintain my strength but also to make me aware of the world about me. That is why he began teaching me combat.
Those were interesting times, Aimee', to have youthful Dragonkin, man shaped, fighting me. Hand to hand, with sticks, and then with swords, I learned how to see my opponent, how to hear him and how to smell him. Six months is not a long time, but it was enough to make me aware of Ryu.
The cheerfulness was facade', Aimee', for inside he was truly hurting. His rejection at the hands of his peers was often more than he could bear, and I would hear him sob in the night, whether as a way to sleep or something from his dreams, I did not know. In the six months I spent with him, rarely did he have Dragon visitors. Once, Desa came to visit us in his full dracoform, and the difference between the two of them was bewildering. Desa was fully three times as broad and four long compared to Ryu. I started to understand Ryu's pain. None of his visitors was evidently a lover.
It was in the eighth month, as the snows began to lighten up and the sun returned more often, that I asked Desa permission to study beyond my ken.
"What are you seeking?" he asked.
"I want to research the library to learn how to look at the origin of a creature."
Desa looked understandably concerned. "The alchemy of life is one of the most difficult sciences known, young Darynn. What are you seeking?"
"I want to know what makes a creature large or small."
He nodded. "His tears get to you, too."
"I can bear it, sir, but not forever. He will die without help."
"And you think you can help him."
"I can look for an answer."
Desa paused, thinking. "Very well. I want to know every detail of your research. In this science, if you cast even a cantrip I want to know about it. Understand?"
Four months more before I could take it no more. From my sleep the sounds of crying roused me. You have never heard a Dragon cry, Aimee', but describing it is beyond me. It's a great roaring sound, unmistakable in its sadness and unbelievable in its depth. I threw aside my bedclothes and leapt off the edge of the ring, flying down one ring level to Ryu's sleeping dish. A bowl, set into the material of the ring and layered in cushions, provided him a comfortable bed.
I dropped to my knees. "Ryu," I said softly. It was drowned out in the crying. "Ryu," I repeated louder. Finally I reached out and touched him. "Ryu!"
[WHAT?] That voice punched into my soul with incredible power, stunning me and tossing me back against the floor. "Darynn!"
Weakly, I managed to say, "Hi... Ryu."
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"You..." I sat up and brushed myself off. "You were crying, and it wouldn't let me sleep." I assessed myself. I was still intact.
He looked away. "I'm sorry if my dreams bother you."
I leaned over and touched his wing. "I just wanted to know if there's anything I can do?"
He looked up at me, his eyes still wet from the crying. "You're an invert too, aren't you, among your kind?"
"It took you this long to figure it out?" I asked.
"The ways of humans are still strange, but I don't want to be insulting. What are you... " Imagination is not the most disciplined part of us, Aimee'. I'm afraid that staring at him, in his bed, conjured up those dreams and pictures I had not had in nearly a year. "Do you really look at me that way?"
Understand, Aimee', that Ryu had never intentionally invaded my imagination. I am simply most obvious in my imaginings when they are erotic, and he is apparently at his most undisciplined when he has just woken up. Together the combination was the undoing of my secrecy. I had to say something. "Yes. Sometimes."
"I..." He paused again. "I don't know what to say. Is it physical, or are you really attracted to me?"
"Physically, I am attracted to Dragons, and you in particular, because with you my fantasies are most possible. Emotionally... Ryu, you have been very kind to me, and have tried hard to hide your suffering. I do feel for you, and I would like to help you. I think of you as a wonderful friend."
"But you couldn't... love me."
I smiled and stroked his wing slowly. "Ryu, sometimes I forget that you are three times my elder when you have moments like this. I could love you. It wouldn't last forever, because you are a Dragon and I am human and eventually we will be on our different paths to different worlds."
"But... you really think you could love me?"
"Sometimes I think I already do." That came out of my mouth so fast I didn't have time to stop it. I controlled my own surprise and continued calmly, "I only think. It takes more than one-sided lust to make love happen."
He didn't move for a moment, then nodded his prodigious head slowly. "It wouldn't work anyway," he said. "You humans have that mouth thing we Dragons could never do."
"There is a lot more to loving than kisses, Ryu." I decided the time to be bold had come. I eased into his sleeping bowl and slid down to lie next to his body. "There is touching." I began to caress his impressive chest slowly. His hide wasn't nearly as hard and thick as I had feared, and it was apparently just as sensitive to touch as my own. The sounds from his throat would have been threatening if I hadn't been able to feel the pleasure coming from him.
I decided on what is, perhaps, the most common seduction there is. I gave him a massage. He cooed softly as I worked. I had plenty of experience in this range, since Thomas had been such a demanding master sometimes when it came to his own pleasure.
I learned a great deal about the outside bodies of Dragons. I did not use any of the cantrips Desa had warned me about, learning instead simply by touch, feel, and sense. At times he would shift in his bed in response to my touch. His strength excited me. Through my bedclothes my erection was plainly visible, and I knew he could feel it when I leaned over.
He never said a word, and by the time I had eased all the tension out of him from his dreams and probably the fear of what I offered, he had drifted off to solid sleep. Exhausted by my efforts, I realized that I had made one of the cardinal errors of magic; I had used everything in relaxing him. I was too tired to fly back to my own bed.
There was nothing to be done. I curled up next to him and fell asleep. We both slept soundly. When I awoke, he had left me alone, but he had also left me to sleep well past sunrise. For that, at least, I thanked him.
My studies progressed another year. That sounds like a long jump, perhaps, but nothing much happened in between. After that evening neither Ryu nor I mentioned the incident to one another. Ryu didn't keep his feelings quite so trapped within, and I saw the blackness more clearly and more often, but he also seemed to accept it far better.
Instead, I concentrated on my studies, spending six hours every morning studying magic until my brain hurt and then working the afternoons away either in the smithy or the gymnasium. I began researching my own spell base. Do you know what a spell base is, Aimee'? No?
A spell base is a basic spell idea from which one may weave variants dependent upon one's knowledge and talent. There is a classic spell base called, simply, "Pain." Alone, it does little; causes an itch. A little additional skill, and it can cause great discomfort. With the knowledge base that comes from being a full mage, one can use it to kill with some effort, although it is an uncomfortable way to die and there are more efficient ways to kill someone magically, like "Sleep" and a slitting of throats.
I was surprised to find that nobody had ever thought to create a base for "Pleasure." Bases are very simple to use, but hard to construct. I was determined to figure out the base for pleasure. I took notes obsessively. And, to be honest, when it was discovered among the man-shaped males of the Megassi what I was, a few were willing to help my experiments.
The other major thrust of my research was to be able to construct a method for visualizing that which shapes a being. I reasoned, and found confirmation, that all things that live grow into their shape by some unseen mechanism. I was determined to find a tool for visualizing that mechanism.
I found it. Not unsurprisingly, someone else had discovered it first for the creation of golems of flesh, although the technique as I read it was very crude. I refined it.
That is an understatement. When I found it I completely dropped everything else. Only Desa's threats kept me in the gymnasium and the smithy. Males who knew my pleasures sent me letters that I left unopened. I burned for nearly four months, and when I was ready, Desa watched as I cast the spell for the first time. On myself.
Oh, we are such complex creatures, Aimee'! Even the keys with which we are made go on forever and are indescribable but in the spinning bands of blue, red, green, and gold that really do describe what we are. Or at least, what our shape would be. I spent so long examining what I was, realizing what I could be with this change or that, that when I was done the sun had set and my body had gone into such complete revolt over the indignity of ritual penetration combined with prolonged neglect. I spent the rest of the night on the garderobe, Desa standing outside and grilling me about my results until dawn.
My research accelerated after that. I discovered I was forging a new kind of magic, a predictive magic that was based on mechanical processes, not temporal ones. The fundamental elements were alchemical, of course, but ultimately it became a purely spiritual engine that allowed me to make a single change, and then change after change after change until I got what I wanted.
It was something of a shock when I realized, suddenly, that I had gotten away from the erotic sciences. I had been too busy taking apart the body to appreciate it. Have you ever been hit on the chin, Aimee'? I swear to you, that is how it felt. I suddenly spent an entire day addressing old friends, diving into a sort of blind, erotic haze, unable to think about work because I could think of nothing else but the males I had neglected.
I took control of myself the next day. I wrote down my thoughts on the bodily experimentation as much as I could, then turned my attention back to Pleasure. I think that's my one greatest failure, that I can never pay attention to one project at a time. I constantly change back and forth.
I received permission from Desa to take two weeks off from the smithy, but not exercise. I spent those two weeks catching up with every male I knew who was amenable to my caresses, and in two weeks I had finished a unified base for spells of Pleasure.
I documented my spell base comprehensively and mailed it to here, to Barraminum and the College of Mages. Over a year would pass before I heard the reply.
As I crawled into my bed one night, however, a voice from the edge of the ring interrupted my desire to sleep. "Darynn?"
"Hi yourself. You have been gone a long time."
"I'm sorry," I said. "I just completed a fully functional spell base, and I decided to turn it into the College of Mages for acceptance."
"That's quite an achievement." He was quiet for a moment, then said, "Darynn, why is it you have never asked me to help you test those spells?"
"I... " I was caught. I had wanted to practice with him, but knowing him as I did I had never felt comfortable approaching him. I wondered if I could bluff my way through this encounter. "Desa said I wasn't to practice on someone without his permission."
"That was the animal alchemy, Darynn. His warnings were not related to the base you created."
"But... you are my host, Ryu. What if I did use them on you? What obligations would we have? What about addiction..."
"Is that your concern? That I might become addicted to the pleasures you could give me without your hands? Only if you used them on me with regularity, and then only if they surpassed the pleasures you could inflict on me with your hands. Which is something you've never tried anyway."
Almost two years had passed since I had made my promise to Desa that I would seduce and love Ryuchitoran. I wanted to, Aimee', truly I did. For some reason I felt reluctance, an inertia to begin. I did not know what I was getting into. "Ryu..."
"You said once you could love me, but you've never said anything to me about it since."
The truth welled up out of me then, although I managed to squelch it almost into silence. Sometimes I curse that Dragons have such good ears. Sometimes I bless it. "You never gave me an answer."
"What?" he asked, not hearing.
"I said you never gave me an answer."
"I didn't know there was a question."
"Ryu..." I sighed. "If we were to... love... would you understand when I returned to the world of men?"
"Yes." His word was as simple as that, and as convincing. I reached out my hand and beckoned him to come to me.
The bed had been made for his changeling days, and as he flopped into it, it creaked painfully but did not crack, and although his tail draped over the side he easily fit all the rest of him beside me. His large head lay down next to mine on the pillows. "I don't know what to do from here," he said.
"I remember touching," I replied. I reached out and stroked his broad chest, feeling the scales sliding under my fingertips, feeling the caress of his skin. Dragons have hearts, despite the legends, and I could hear his beating. His breath, hot and musky, poured over me as he watched my hands relearn the feel of his body.
People don't believe me when I say that Dragons, if they have any relation to other animals, are more like the centaurids than humanoids. It must be so because Dragons have six limbs. They have standing legs, flying wings, and holding arms, although in full Dracoform these arms end in three-fingered hands that require close care to keep the nails short enough for them to handle anything.
My dreams and fantasies roiled in my head and I wondered how many of them I could fulfill in one night. "If I touch you here with my finger," I said, caressing the underside of his chin and neck, "and then do it again with my lips, do you feel anything different?"
"Yes," he gasped. "Your lips are strange... warmer, softer. They're wet. I feel that."
"I do too." As we lay side-by-side, I realized that describing him as eight feet tall is a misdirection. He is only two feet taller than I, but all of that body is from his collar to his groin. We were grossly disproportionate. Yet I was determined to love him, to really take him for my own, for this night.
"Would you like me to try a spell on you?" I asked.
"Please," he whispered, brushing at my hair with one of his well- trimmed three-fingered hands.
"Roll onto your back, Ryu." He did as I said, and I crawled on top of his chest, sitting on him. I closed my eyes and concentrated, calling forth the spell I knew better than anyone else. I thought about the base, felt it settle in my body as I had envisioned it, mostly as if it were cradled within my hips. I felt my erection grow, and I mouthed quietly the invocation.
I opened my eyes and looked down at him. His own eyes had widened and his breathing had become loud. "Darynn..." I turned around and what I saw made me smile. His own cock had grown out of the hiding slit on his body and come to full length. Looking at it, I breathed a sigh of relief. Desa has spoken true; he was actually smaller than Thomas, and by a good bit! I was to learn that Dragons are not so largely blessed as Humans who, pound-for-pound, have some of the largest sexes amongst mammals.
The shape was different, as was the color. Against his white hide, his cock was a brilliant, visible black. The head was covered in wrinkles, but fortunately it was not barbed like a feline's. I slid down his body, grateful that the simplest of my spells, "Stroke," had brought my prize out from concealment. "Beautiful," I said, smiling up at him. I took it in my hand and began to stoke it slowly, manually this time. The skin on it was very loose and moved easily. "May I kiss it?"
"Do... whatever... you want!"
I looked up the long length of my Dragonfriend and smiled. "I think I will do just that." I lay on his body casually as I craned my neck forward and took the head of his cock into my mouth.
He tasted like... it's hard to describe. Perhaps the best idea I can think of is fresh paper. After it has been milled, paper has a scent to it that carries for a while. It was that kind of scent.
But he tasted of flesh, and nothing more. Nothing less either, I might add. I took more into my mouth, revelling in the control I exercised as I swallowed his cock whole. It pulsed in the back of my throat. I planted both hands against his sides and began to slide up and down, my eyes closed, my throat grasping for his cock. He was beautiful, Aimee', and just to feel his sex down inside my throat was fulfillment of a dream. The size of a Dragon's sex was a blessing to me but it means nature was cruel to Dragons, for they mate in flight, and must be joined only briefly. Unlike their young, Dragons climax quickly, violently, and, I will add, voluminously. Ryu's back arched so strongly I was almost launched into the air as his cock pulsed long, thick jets of fluid into my mouth. He roared so loudly I was afraid the dome would crack. I held on for dear life. I choked; unwisely, I had assumed that since I could take whatever Thomas could feed me I could do the same for Ryu, but he had so much more than a human.
"Darynn?" I recall him saying after his eruption had subsided. "Are you well?"
I gasped, coughed, hacked, and finally managed to say "I will live, Ryuchia."
"That was not my question."
"I was surprised. I could not take all of your ejaculation. I need a towel. May I?"
"If you need it, do not let me stop you from getting it. Go!"
I nodded and rose, still feeling a little dizzy, and recovered a towel. I wiped myself off, and then returned to bed, still coughing into the towel at intervals. I wiped Ryu off as well.
I lay down next to him. "I take it my spell worked?"
"The spell was only the beginning!" Ryu replied, giving me a Dragon's smile. Already his beard was coming in, and I tugged on it softly at the base of his broad muzzle. "You were wonderful, Darynn."
"All the benefits of good teachers. And the best of friends."
"You sound... sad, Darynn."
I rested my head against his chest, listening. "I... I miss Awrthom. I am not ashamed of that. He loved me, and as a master he left nothing to be desired. I'm afraid that here in Hakkana I am often viewed as the master myself, because of my skill and spell ability."
"You need someone to... master you?" he asked, puzzled.
I stroked his muzzle softly. Appreciate how big he was, Aimee, when I tell you that his muzzle was as long as my palm and fingers, and as wide, and as thick as two hands stuck together. "No," I said, shaking my head. "Not as I needed Awrthom, or as I wanted him."
"Then... is there anything I can do for you, Darynn?"
I thought about my needs, my desires, and my capacities. I debated telling him the truth. Thus far lying had availed me naught. "Ryu, I need to taken. Ravished. I need... " I paused for a second, then found the words I wanted. "Ryuchitoran... would you sodomize me?"
He chuckled softly; the sound reminded me that, although we both thought of ourselves as youths, this dragon was of the same age as my father. "Yes, Darynn. When I have recovered."
I closed my eyes and concentrated, feeling the spell base for Pleasure return to me. There were spells I knew for potency, recovery, and strength. I whispered them quietly as I cuddled next to Ryu, and then followed them with the spell that had elicited an erection from him before. I felt his sex against my calf as I lay next to him. "Are you recovered?"
"You are so impatient, Darynn," he laughed. "I am recovered. How shall we do this?"
I rose out of bed and walked into the next room, returning with the grease I used to make my self-penetrating rituals easier. "With this," I said, slathering some along the length of his cock. I stroked him with my hands, watching the white grease soak into the folds of his wrinkled skin and dissolve with the heat of his body.
I lay down beside him, my back against his belly, and squirmed down until I felt his shaft against my buttocks. I reached behind me and grabbed it, aiming for my anus. It had been a long time since anyone had been within me, and I wasn't sure if entry of a living being would be as easy as I remembered, no matter how large my dildi. That's one thing I've learned... wooden phalli are not even fair practice for the real thing. I moved down further and pressed my buttocks back against his shaft. I felt the ring of my anus part, spread open, as his cock eased into me. I felt the head ease along the short anal canal and pop into me. More moved within me; the sensation of it sliding past my hole was blissfully wrenching. But I wanted more, Aimee'. I didn't want gentleness. The time for gentleness had passed. I needed him to be brutal to me.
"Darynn..." he gasped as the head of his cock slid deep into my guts. "Oh, Darynn!"
"Yes, Ryu," I sighed. "More..."
"What... what more do you want?" he asked.
I closed my eyes. I had time for one more spell. Just one more. I began casting it, holding off on the last word of the spell. I held that word in my heart, because I knew its power. "Ryu... Roll us over, onto our bellies. Lie atop me, and... take me."
"Be rough, Ryu. Be a Dragon. Take me. Claim me."
I felt something like anger flare within him as he pushed over. As I fell face-first to the bed, he nearly came out, but only nearly. Then he pushed himself into me again. I felt his cock shove deeply into me, and I felt his hot hide against my buttocks and I knew he had all of himself within me. A felt a rhythmic beating begin in the air about us and knew he had extended his wings. I heard the bed creak as he withdrew his cock from my anus, and then pushed it back in. He roared a challenge to me: "Is this what you want, Darynn?"
His chest pushed my head against the mattress. I could not answer, nor could I breathe. Nor did I care. His body pounded against mine; the entire bed groaned under the beating weight of a Dragon in the grips of heated blood. His shaft made a mockery of my claims to endurance, and I found myself gasping and loving him as he did so. As he plundered me all the more, his wings took up more of his weight and I could again breathe, my head swimming. I could take no more, and he was straining. I said the last word of the spell.
It did not end! Aimee', his loving did not end then! He continued on for another full minute before finally roaring his climax, louder than before, stronger than before! I never dreamed of what I had unleashed in Ryuchia as he loved me that night, Aimee'! Unbelievable.
He fell, literally fell, out of the air. I barely rolled free of his falling weight. His breath came in panting, puffing intervals. His eyes were shut tight. "Oh, Darynn, oh, Darynn," he repeated over and over.
I grabbed the towel we had been using and wiped my buttocks. I was not surprised to find blood, but with a simple spell Awrthom had taught me I found that, as usual, I would survive and be well come the dawn. "Ryu?"
"Darynn!" he gasped. "I've never... I cannot..."
"Hush," I said, touching his chin again and kissing him on his beard. "You need to sleep."
"I... Yes. You do too."
"May I sleep with you?" I asked.
"You may not have much of a choice," he breathed. "I am too tired to fly back to my bowl. May I use your bed tonight?"
"With my complete acceptance, beloved Ryuchitoran."
"'Beloved.' I like that. Thank you."
"Sleep, Ryu. We will talk tomorrow."
"Yes. Yes, we will, Darynn." He drifted off to sleep, and I joined him thereafter.
Darynn looked up at the clock and swore softly. "Aimee', my telling has taken far longer than I had planned, and we will have to finish this story some other day." He looked at her closely. She had removed all of her clothing but the tunic she had first so casually tried to doff. She had removed her boots first, and now her pants and undergarments were gone as well.
"Aimee'? You have not removed your tunic?"
"I... " She looked up, confused. "I did not know when I should. It..." She began crying. "I did not know..." Tears began falling from her eyes. Darynn pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her fragile form. "I'm sorry, sir. I'm so sorry."
"You have done nothing wrong, Aimee'. Do not apologize for lacking in harm."
She looked up into his face, tears streaking her cheeks. "But... you wanted me to be naked by now, did you not?"
"Aimee, if you had felt it wrong to take off even your boots, I would not have berated you. You have done exactly as I asked, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in that."
"Sir," she moaned pitifully. "Teltirray wants to know when I will begin learning spells from you."
"Next week," Darynn said calmly. "I had planned to do some beginnings here, but we will start next week." He held her close, feeling her warmth next to his. He felt protective of her, an understandable reaction considering his feelings towards the man really "owned" her, contract or not. "Now, tell me something. You exposed all of yourself but your torso. Would you like me to guess as to why?"
She looked up at him. He caressed a small streak of tears away. She nodded.
"Teltirray, your master, has taken everything from you. You have no privacy in where you go, so your boots are no matter. He takes your sex at his leisure, so your pants are no matter. You learn what he wants you to learn, so your headcloth is of no matter. He has not got your heart, and you want that kept to yourself. So you wear your tunic as one would wear armor."
She stared at his face, and then squeezed her eyes tight as her crying came again, stronger than before. The tears told him he had judged correctly. He felt no victory at that. She gathered the material of his robe in her fingers and gripped tightly. He wrapped his arms around her, but she pushed away suddenly, grabbing at her tunic and pulling it off with an expression that could only have been a snarl, then looked at him, smiling through her wet face.
He smiled back down at her, holding her as she placed her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes. He knew what was happening. She had decided that he, at least, should be allowed to know her heart, if only for the moment. He thanked her silently for that.
He drew a deep breath, regretting what must come next. "Aimee', I cannot keep you here."
"I know, sir. I must return to Teltirray."
"Are you afraid?"
She looked up at him. "You know, then. You cannot protect me. So I am not afraid. I have nothing to fear. What will happen, will happen."
Darynn was stunned by the maturity with which she approached a dismal future. "Aimee', you will return next week?"
"With your permission, sir."
"That you have."
"Then I will return." She stood up slowly. "I guess I should dress now."
"Yes," Darynn nodded. He watched her as she pulled her clothing on, first her tunic, then her pants, and her headcloth and boots finally. He found her truly beautiful in her youthfulness, and he feared that she wouldn't live long enough for him to teach her anything of use. That would be a tragedy, and he would not allow it to happen.
"Goodnight, Aimee'." He waved as she closed the door behind herself. In his heart, resolution became real. Teltirray would not have her forever.
He was shocked at his own feelings. Was he leaving the world of men behind, or was his own merely getting larger? He had never had these feelings for a woman before, especially not one so immature as Aimee'.
Whatever their origin, they were his emotions and they were real. He would do with them what he could. He would teach Aimee'. He sat down at his desk and began making notes.