The Ritual

The sun had almost touched the mountains this time as Aimeé looked out the window. Despite the warmth of the late summer day, she found herself shivering, wondering about Darynn’s warning as he had dressed that morning. “The Ritual is a time of licentiousness and danger for this city, Aimeé. More children are born nine months from this day than any other, even from the depths of winter. Uncontrollable energies and the darker urges are released tonight, and it is only through the Ritual that we channel those urges away from mayhem and bloodlust, while harnessing those energies for our own ends. Stay indoors. Be alone and lock the doors. Stay away from men.”

It had taken her time to appreciate what he was trying to tell her. She resented being held back from the Ritual, but she was only an apprentice, and not a very good one. For that matter, she was not a citizen of Pyu Rika and not qualified for the rites they were to perform here. Still, since Darynn had left that morning to prepare for the Rite she had felt adrift in the palace. She had ignored offers from Asmah of baths, massage, and other care by the servants, eaten very little at the noontime banquet held to honor Talen Silisto, herself, and Mage Hektor, and failed miserably to attend to her studies in the afternoon. All of which would have shocked Darynn who, she believed, believed her to be selfish in all things, food, baths, and studies especially.

The sun sank into the crotch between the two tallest peaks, the last ray of light striking skyward, pointing at the palace like an accusation. She blinked the brightness from her eyes and, following Darynn’s advice, crossed the room and locked the doors.

She felt bored. Nothing was really happening. The city was quiet this evening, even more quiet that it had been the night before, as if it were holding its breath. All day throughout she had heard the sounds of carpenter’s hammers and mason’s carts creaking through the streets. The smell of baking bread had reached her nostrils in amazing volumes, as if the entire city were making one giant loaf. Massive wagons laden with barrels had labored past her window. But now, there was only silence and the coolness of night.

Then she felt– something else. She could not describe it quite. It was almost a sound, a deep, reverberating sound that thrummed and echoed in the chambers of her heart. It started out faint and quiet. She heard a scream from somewhere outside her window, a shriek followed by feminine giggles and the low groan of a man, and then the quiet returned. In its stillness she gave attention to the magic swirling about her.

She was tempted to try a small cantrip, but Darynn had forbidden her from doing any magic at all this night. She so wanted to categorize the power, to see it and hear it, but she would have to live with her raw impressions and not those processed through the synthesisia spells she knew.

It welled up inside her and gripped at her. She felt it in her heart, and it seemed to hold her at the waist. She followed it, carefully, attending to it even as her focus left the outside world. The thrumming in her soul became insistent, a massive drum being beaten by unworldly drummers. It was dripping down inside her belly, down into her hips, pooling about her womb. She could not imagine magic feeling so tangible, so liquid, without the help of some outside spell, but this magic felt so, and it had her in its clutches.

She worried for a moment that it had chosen her and decided that she was somehow special. Darynn had warned her against such thinking. “Everyone feels that way about it. It’s not real. It just wants you to believe that so that you will do what it wants. If you think you’re special, you believe you can get away with the acts it wants of you.” He had smiled at her after saying that, then said, “In many ways, it’s like believing in a god.”

She looked out the window once more, across the magnificent city with its gleaming architecture, the tall towers peppered with windows. She glanced down at the great thoroughfare and the oval pool that rested right before the temple, and for a moment she imagined the towers to be gigantic rectangular penises, the pool an equally large vulva into which they would plunge. The idea aroused her in ways that Darynn had warned her against, beastly ways, ways that she could indulge only when she wasn’t practicing magic.

Well, she was not allowed to practice magic this night. She tore herself away from the window, crossed the room and threw herself onto the bed. Before she had even thought about it she had pulled up her skirt and shoved a hand into her drawers, touching herself in ways she had long ago learned to enjoy. But tonight it was not mere enjoyment. There was something more to it, something resembling need. She had never before felt it as need. Hunger, thirst, exhaustion, respite– those she had felt as need. But lust was something she wanted, like maple candy, like wine.

Need. Her hands slid between the lips of her vulva and found the little point of her sex, the intense pleasure stabbing into her belly, demanding more. She bit her lower lip with need. It was too much, too much. Even as she rubbed herself harder she knew she needed more.

She came with a soft whimper, barely registering any sense of satisfaction. She kept touching herself, demanding more of her sex, demanding that she come again. She plunged two fingers into her deep, wet sex, up into her body, touching herself in places that only she knew about. “More,” she whispered.

She turned over on the bed, presenting herself to… to whom? She wanted to be taken, to be used, to be ravished. One man would not do. She needed two, or three, or more. She needed an army of men to come and service her, satisfy her.

“No!” she shouted at the room, wide-eyed terror gripping her heart as she realized what she was being coerced into doing. The lust and the hunger stalked within her, throbbed between her legs, in her belly, in her mind, but for the moment she crushed it down with that force of will that had saved her once before. She understood Darynn’s warning all too well now. She would not be thrown over into mindless abandon. She had enough thesledown in her and could not get with child. She had access to the finest of healers and could not be torn with disease. But as she looked at herself in the mirror, at the black curls of her hair cast in wild disarray, at the narrowed eyes that regarded her with lust, at the animal within that seethed with anger at her unwillingness to let it loose, she swore she would not let unknown strangers have at her, bruise her and overwhelm her. She would choose.

She rose and brushed back her hair, then pulled her apprentice’s robe across her shoulder like a talisman, a shield. The hunger pulled her towards the door, but she reined it in, controlled it, told the animal Aimeé to behave for a moment. She walked across the hall. A scream, a laugh, a moan– the hallway filled with each in turn, then silence. Then more laughter, a woman’s, which turned into a shriek that Aimeé prayed was more pleasurable than it sounded.

She looked around, hunger driving a sense of panic, then found a familiar door. She opened it.

“Hektor?” There was no answer at first. “Hektor, are you in here?” Something, some niggling sense told her that he was. She cast about the room, looking for him. She heard a frightened whimper, a delicate little noise she could never have made herself, come from behind the door. She peeked around it.

He was crumpled in the corner, naked, his hands clawing at one of the lintels of the door. There was blood on one hand, a ragged fingernail broken off. What had he been doing?

“Hektor!” She reached down for his shoulder, pulled him around, looked at him.

“Stay away!” he shouted, his soft voice pitched terrifyingly high. “Stay away from me!”

“Hektor, it’s me! Aimeé!”

“Ai… Mage Aimeé?”

She chose not to correct him. “Yes, oh yes, Hektor. What happened to you?”

“The sight, Aimeé. The sight. I saw… I saw… horrible, fearful shapes in the dark, gigantic terrible ravishing… Oh, Aimeé, we must get out of here!”

“Hektor, no,” she said. “We cannot leave. Not tonight. No magic works tonight. Nobody crosses those mountains on foot. We cannot go.”

“Aimeé, please. Help me.”

“Help me, Hektor.” She looked at him, his uncomprehending eyes, then threw aside the robe. “Help me, Hektor. Help me.”

For a moment, those eyes stared, and then narrowed, and then Hektor leaped to his feet. They became two beasts clashing there on the marble floor, his hands grabbing her hips, pulling her against him. “Yes, Hektor,” she gasped. “Oh, yes.” She pushed him away, scrambled to her feet and raced for the bed. He came after her. For a moment, she wondered at her choice, the thin, reedy boy with the red hair and the unsure smile suddenly transformed into a rapacious creature, like some desert haunt, all skin and bones and erection and ravenous need.

Her need was equally strong. As he tossed her back onto the bed, his cock pressed against the flesh of her lust-swollen sex, then slid into the wet, murky depths of her body. She gasped and arched her back, pressing her flesh up to meet his, pressing her chest to his body. “Yes, Hektor!” she screamed.

He was loose, a force beyond control, a man beyond civilization. His cock pounded her, bruised her swollen lips, made her hips ache to be parted so wide, demanding more depth from her. His cock was average, and perhaps only small, but it was filling her with what she needed and wanted, what her body told her she needed more than anything else in life at that moment. “I’m safe,” she whispered to the animal, and the animal whispered back, “Yes, you are.”

She came with a scream that rattled windows, but as a sound it disappeared into the wild, clanging, banging, impossible night. It ripped through her from stem to stern, made her hair stand on end, made her feel satisfied. Hektor’s own cry of pleasure told her that she had distracted him from whatever it was that had frightened him.

No restraint lived anywhere in the city. Aimeé understood: greed, envy, wrath– all were loosened by the Ritual. Darynn’s role was to channel them all into one, and that one would be Lust. It was safer than any other.

Hektor lay atop her, panting like a dog in the summer heat, a droplet of sweat hanging off the tip of his nose. She looked down and saw that his cock was sweetly curved, long but thin. She pushed him aside and looked at his face. His eyes were back to normal for a moment, and he blinked a few times to clear the fog in his mind. “Apprentice Aimeé?” he said.

“You remember my title this time,” she said with a smile.

“Are you… are you injured?”

“No,” she said, leaning down to kiss his cheek. “I am quite well after all that, thank you, Mage Hektor.”

“I never… I would never have…”

“I know. And if I have wronged you, forgive me, but I was not myself.”

“Nor I, I think. And I still feel…”

“Yes,” Aimeé said. “I do as well. I think I know what it is, but I would probably betray a trust to explain it more. We have a few minutes– a ‘refraction,’ I think it is called– before it grips us again. It will probably be with us until dawn.”

“Dawn!” he said. “I cannot be like this until dawn! I will die of an exhausted heart, or hurt you, or…”

“You cannot hurt me too badly,” Aimeé said. “And I would rather be with you, safe in the arms of a fellow mage, however much a stranger you may be otherwise, than out there in the grip of gods know whom and how.”

He nodded. “I understand. At least, I believe that I do.” Aimeé looked down and saw his erection standing up again. The hunger filled her once more. She dropped her head to his lap and seized his erection in her hands. She wondered if this way would satisfy them both.

She ran her tongue along the length of it. She tasted her own juices, the musky flavor of her sex strong on its length. She wanted nothing more than to lick him clean and then swallow him whole. She leaned down and caressed his balls, admiring the red, thick fur that covered them and kept them warm.

“Oh, Aimeé…” The sigh of pleasure from Hektor warmed her somewhere other than her heart; she felt the slimy patch between her thighs slip as she rubbed her legs together, seeking one more second of her own stimulation. She caressed Hektor’s balls with her tongue, slid up the length, and took the head of it down, down into her throat. She was amazed that she could do so, as she had gagged the few times Darynn and she had experimented with this, and before– she tried not to think about before. She swore to remember this experience, if only so that she could repeat it with Darynn later.

Instead, she was swept away by the joy and the power of the cock between her lips. She had Hektor, and she had the power to give him pleasure with her tongue, or pain with her teeth, and she was here to give him pleasure. She slid her tongue along the smooth length of flesh, sucked it deep. He trembled. “Aimeé, Aimeé, Aimeé…” he gasped, his desire strong, his self-control the sure sign of magehood. Aimeé was sorely impressed with his iron will. His hands caressed her hair, held her down, but neither forced nor threatened, as she slid her mouth along his shaft.

His body trembled like a harp string and she knew he was close to release. She took his long cock all the way to the base, and that was all he needed. With a loud groan he came, his body bucking hard, his cock throbbing as he shot his load into her throat. Aimeé had never enjoyed the taste, but this time she made no attempt to be rid of it, instead swallowing it all. She looked up and saw him lying on the bed, trembling. “Oh, Aimeé,” he gasped.

“Hektor?”

“I cannot tell you how wonderful that was!”

“Yes, you can,” she said. She lay beside him, her hips close to his head, and parted her thighs, With her fingers she spread open the lips of her sex, exposing the pink, wet inner parts to his eyes. “See this, here? This nub? Kiss me, there.”

He looked up at her, and then down at her cunt. “You want me to– ?”

“Kiss me, Hektor. Kiss my sex, as I pleasured yours.”

He looked unsure, but then without pause buried his face between her legs. His beard was scratchy against her thighs, but that was only an extra pleasure added to her joy as his lips, and then his tongue were pressed into her service. She moaned aloud, “Oh, yes, just there, like that.” The pleasure from her tiny button soaked deep into her body, spreading through her. She could feel her toes curling with the force of her pleasure and couldn’t hold back. “Hektor!” She held his head in place and felt his teeth sink just a little into her flesh, his tongue roughly caressing her clitoris until she came, every muscle in her belly and thighs expressing her release, her voice screaming his name.

It was his turn to look up. “Did I… do it right?”

“Oh, Hektor, you did it more than just right. You did it perfectly. Wonderfully.” She pulled him up between her legs, felt the firm touch of his cock against her thighs. “By the thick thighs of drunken gods, are you really hard again?”

“I– I suppose I am.”

“Then fuck me, Hektor. If you have the strength.”

“Not as much as before, Apprentice, but…” He slipped his cock into her sopping sex, sliding in easily until it nestled deep inside of her, pressing its randy head against the mouth of her womb. Each sighed with pleasure at their union. Rather than let him set the pace, Aimeé pushed over until she was on top of him. She had practiced this several times with Darynn, and it was still an awkward and uncomfortable maneuver, but they did manage it with him slipping out.

She smiled down at him and began the act on her own. He had expended much of his strength on her behalf, and it was time to return the favor. She rose up smoothly, then descended, his cock entering and leaving her sex like some strange machined rod in its casing. She giggled for a moment, thinking of a beating wheel for laundry, then returned to the serious business of making Hektor climax.

His hands reached up. “You have such beautiful breasts,” he said as his fingers found her nipples. “Such lovely tits.” His hands caressed them with enthusiasm.

“Pinch,” she gasped.

“What?”

“Pinch my nipples,” Aimeé said, her own concentration on the warm feeling in her thighs, the sweetness in her cunt. His fingers tightened about her nipples and the pleasure stabbed through her uncontrollably.

She wanted more, more! The Ritual’s effects gripped her and she began to beat herself upon his shaft. He was pushing back with every thrust, his hands still on her nipples, twisting, scratching at the skin about her breasts. He was a man and could not lie passively while she did all the work, not in lovemaking. She knew. She appreciated him.

She came first, blissfully, but did not leave him until he had shot himself off, coming inside her again. She moaned softly and fell beside him. “I am spent.”

He laughed. “As am I!” He nuzzled up close to her and kissed her hair. “You are a beast!”

“Do not expect this of me when the ritual is done.”

“I will try not to expect anything of you once we are free of this spell. But it will give me memories to last a lifetime. Just don’t tell your young guardsman.”

“Filo?” she said. “He will understand. He knows he cannot expect fidelity from an eromancer. But I would have thought that nephromancers would be more… conservative.”

“I am discovering much about my skills that I did not know.” He kissed her cheek, nuzzling her gently. “Thank you, Apprentice Aimeé.”

Aimeé felt a curious kind of annoyance at his nuzzling, but also pleasure. She felt he was being male, and trying to show his affection for her now as only he could, but with her satisfaction she now wanted nothing more than to sleep. To rest. “Are you tired, Hektor?”

“I am deadly so.” He yawned to emphasize the point.

She reached over for the crystal pitcher by his bed, poured a glass of wine for each of them. She handed one to him. “Drink, then. Let us go to sleep peacefully and pass the night.”

“Yes,” he said, drinking deeply as she did. Then they curled up on the bed together.

Aimeé awoke in the pitch blackness of night. The candle had long since died out. Two things she knew: she needed to relieve herself, and she needed Hektor. Again. Her dreams had been wild and lascivious, and the hunger in her belly still lived.

She was a civilized mage, and the impulse to waken him and take him now was strong, but she was hardly going to soil her bed in the act. She shook herself, rose, and walked to the privy, where she took care of her business, closing the closet behind her. She took a step and ran into him. “Sorry,” he said.

“Apology accepted,” she chimed, her hand reaching down to find him stiff and ready. “Don’t let that drop too much.”

“I will not.” He opened the privy closet door and quickly shut it behind him. Aimeé walked back to the bed and sat down. She caressed her sex gently and discovered, to her shock, that it was bruised to the point of pain. She could hardly believe that they had been so vigorous and violent, yet the evidence was clear. Her lips were pushed closed by the swelling. She parted them, the pain clashing with her want for more.

Hektor joined her on the bed. “Aimeé?” She could see him through the pale moonlight coming through the window well enough to know that he saw the look on her face and mirrored her concern. He leaned his shoulder against hers, the deep ache inside him visible on his face.

“You have used me well,” she said. “Oh, Hektor, we could… but I am afraid it would hurt.”

“Let me see if I can soothe that ache.” He pushed her gently back to the bed and eased between her thighs, but the scratch of his beard and even the lightest pressure of his chin against her sex made her cry out in pleasure-strangling agony.

“No,” she sighed. “No.” She grabbed for his shoulders, pulled him to her. “You have used me up.”

“I am sorry. I–“

“I want you,” she breathed. “Gods, but I want you so badly, Hektor. I cannot believe my body would give out so, give up so. We only did it twice.”

“You pride yourself on your eromancy, Aimeé, but I suspect you are not so used to it. I– I want you, too, Aimeé, but not so much that I would want to hurt you.” He held her tight, his hard cock pressing against her thigh. “Oh, Aimeé, to be frustrated on this night is more than we should bear.”

“Hektor,” she breathed. “Hektor… Maybe you could… “

“What?”

“I cannot let the night go without once more being under you, feeling the thunder of you against my body. I want you to… to…”

“Aimeé?”

“Hektor,” she said, her voice barely a whisper. “I want you to sodomize me.”

For a moment, he did not move, perhaps not even to breathe. Then he said, “You are serious.”

“Yes!” She turned to look at him. “Yes, please.”

He looked at her with worry, then smiled. “I will do as you ask. Have we something to make it… easier?”

“Massage oil! In my room! Asmah brought it to offer me.” She rose and left him, sneaking out into the hallway, over to her room, then returned. “See?”

“You…” He held her and kissed her. For the first time that night, they pressed lips to lips, and the ragged intimacy of it, even in their spellbound moment, was a pleasure that rang like a temple bell deep in her soul. “Oh, Aimeé,” Hektor gasped.

She opened the bottle and dribbled it down over his hardened cock. She closed her hand about the greasy shaft and stroked him until he clenched his teeth and growled, “Continue and you will not get what you want!”

She giggled and let him go, then spilled more oil onto her hand, caressing it between her legs, between her buttocks. She found the tiny hole and pressed oil into it, deep. “I think… I think I am ready for you.”

“Oh, Apprentice Aimeé,” he said as he smiled. “Maybe you think so, but it is not so easy, I suspect.” He took the bottle from her hand and smeared some onto his own fingers, then put it on the table. He reached down and pressed a finger to the cleft between her cheeks, then inwards until he found her most private opening. She moaned at the new sensation, welcomed him, invited him in. But he teased at her, touched her, made motions that shot sensation through her like a knife. His touch was unsteady but striving to be gentle.

Then one finger pressed inward. She let it into her, her body and mind at ease with his penetration. One finger inside her rear was enough to make her swoon, and yet what she craved was his cock, his hard cock, the cock she could just barely see in the moonlight. “Hektor, please!”

“I may not be one of the sodomites, but I know that this is nothing to be done harshly,” he said. He caressed her hole, each motion sending rivers of pleasure snaking up from her belly to touch her heart.

“I don’t know if I can take much more,” she gasped, “before I go mad!”

“You shan’t,” he said. “I promise you.” He placed a hand on her hip and pulled her over until she lay face-down on the bed. “Now, Aimeé, let us see if you truly want what you are asking.” He spread his legs over her thighs, mounting her as she lay there, suddenly helpless. Fear, thrilling, desperate fear, the fear that he would hurt her, the fear that he would not, both fighting for attention in her soul.

He steadied himself with a hand upon her rear cheek, then she felt the tip of his cock nosing its way down into the cleft of her willing ass. He pushed, and she pushed back. He went slowly, agonizing her with his patience, until in one painful spasm her ass opened up and allowed the head to pop in.

Both gasped with the realization of what they had accomplished. “So big,” Aimeé gasped. “Oh, gods, so big. More,” she moaned. “More.”

He slowly fed his cock into her willing body. His long shaft found room within her, made room if had to, penetrated her deeply until she felt his hips against her rounded rear and his belly against her back. “Yessss…” she hissed. “Yes, I can take that.”

“Oh, Aimeé, Aimeé,” Hektor moaned. “What is it like?”

“Like nothing else in the world,” she said. “It is pleasure, and pain, and trust, and fear, and wonder, and the body fighting such unnature. Ohhhh, to be under you, Hektor. To be held down by you. Fuck me, beloved mage, fuck me.”

He slid out, and for a moment Aimeé was afraid he would leave her, but then he was deep inside her again. He filled her and emptied her, over and over. It was almost enough. “Harder,” she whispered.

“I would not hurt you.”

“Damn hurting me!” she swore. “Fuck me!”

He took her seriously and put more force behind his hips, ravishing her backside, each stroke coming down and using her buttocks as the stop. He no longer held back, and for Aimeé it was as if paradise had opened and threatened to swallow her whole. It was like the first time of the night, only he lasted so long. It was like a beautiful storm, lovemaking so powerful she was willing to brave the lightning to have it. He pounded her into the bed, she shoved back with her hips. Her body was full of need, full of pleasure, so overwhelmed that she was going to burst like a summer’s levee. And when she came, she screamed so loud that it hurt her ears and made her head buzz with relief.

Hektor was but a heartbeat behind her, his solid cock inside her guts throbbing hard. Incredibly, she could feel the thrusts from within, the jerking climax of his own cock even as he stopped himself, collapsing on top of her.

Breathing. It was all she thought about now. She could hear her breaths coming, ragged and wet, through lips flecked with foam. “I’m rabid,” she said, and she giggled.

“Aimeé?”

“Ohhhh… Hektor.” She turned over to look at him, her eyes wet with tears. “Oh, that was the most wonderful thing I have ever felt. Oh, Hektor, Hektor…”

Then, curiously, she felt cold and alone. She looked up at him, and he at her, and she knew he had felt the same thing. “The Ritual,” he said.

She nodded. She understood. The spell had ended. She looked out the window and saw the first fingers of sunlight reaching up over the mountain that shielded Pyu Rika from the sea.

And yet, something remained. Some small part of her was still touched by the way he seemed concerned for her, even as he blushed and looked away. “F– forgive me,” he said suddenly. “I– I did not know what I was doing.”

She touched his arm. “Yes, you did.” He turned further away. “Thank you, Hektor.”

“I– I– I hurt you!”

“No. Look at me, Hektor. You did what I asked of you. What any woman in the grip of that spell might have asked of you. And you did it very well.” She didn’t feel the hunger, but now there was concern. “You proved yourself to be a man, Hektor, and a chivalrous, caring, decent man at that.”

“You– you mean that.”

“I do,” she said. “I do. Thanks to you, I found a way to survive the Ritual without casting my lot into the hands of palace guards and strangers. And I found a way to comfort you in your fear and your need. The Ritual ends with my having gotten more than what I brought into it.”

He smiled then. “I– I feel the same way.”

“Then we have made a fair trade.” She kissed his cheek. “Stay here, tonight.”

“It is my room.”

“So it is,” she said. “Mage Hektor, may I spend the night here, safely in your arms?”

He looked about the room for a moment as if worrying that spies were watching. “Yes,” he said. “Let me clean myself.” He reached down and grabbed the hem of the robe he had worn earlier, passed it to her. “You first.”

Aimeé took a moment to get clean, then passed it to Hektor who did the same. Somehow, even in the cold, lonely moments after the spell had passed, she found it in her heart to admire him. They were trying, together, to make sense of what had happened.

Even as dawn broke the exhaustion took her. They lay together his chest pressed to her back, and even as she fell asleep she felt his chivalry slip, just a little, as his free hand caressed her breasts.