Not going to do an essay-thinger this week, since somehow I seem to have gotten sucked into editing two separate things (one shortly to be published, one not yet submitted), starting another short story, and there’s also still the novel I’m co-writing. And none of this is technically my day job, which also needs my attention. So in the interests of not being a bad grad student, I’m instead offering this excerpt of the thing I’m polishing for publication: my erotic m/m fantasy novelette Hieros, which I just got back from my editor. The story in question concerns two young friends who find themselves thrown together in a mysterious ritual, which has the potential to change their relationship forever.
Hieros will be released in (hopefully) the next few weeks, by Liquid Silver Books.
NSFW bit under the cut.
At first the interior of the temple seemed to be dark. Then, as his torch burned lower, his eyes adjusted and he stepped inside and saw that past the dim entrance-way was a small receiving hall lit with many candles, tiny lights flickering and pushing back the night. Out of the shadows stepped a robed acolyte and took the torch from him without a word, beckoning with one hand. Though he hesitated for a moment, Jaith followed.
The acolyte led him through narrow stone corridors, turning and turning until Jaith was practically dizzy with it, and it seemed to him that the temple was somehow much larger on the inside than the exterior would attest to. At last they came to a small chamber, dominated in its center by a large tub filled with steaming water, and before Jaith had time to wonder or to ask, the acolyte had slipped the torch into a holder bolted to the wall and was tugging at the fabric of Jaith’s tunic, starting to pull it up.
“Here,” said Jaith, stepping back with his eyes wide. “That’s–” And then he remembered himself. The ritual. The gods. The gods that had to be pleased, for the sake of the village. The ritual was a mystery, only the whispers of rumors surrounding what it actually consisted of, and going into that great unknown, he knew he had to be ready to bend his will to strangeness. Perhaps even to discomfort. He nodded once, looking into the shadowed face of the acolyte, and raised his arms obediently.
He was wearing only his loose tunic and pants, and undressing him was quickly done, until he stood there naked with the night air cool on his skin, even in the shelter of the walls, as though the walls were somehow not there at all. The acolyte gestured to the tub, stepping back with a slight bow, and Jaith understood. So he was to cleanse himself, and that, it seemed, was a task in which he would not be aided.
The water was shockingly warm, and he gasped as he stepped into it and dropped into a crouch and finally sat, the discomfort of it quickly dissolving into a pleasure that spread all across the surface of his skin and into his muscles and bones. He felt his blood quickening as he began to bathe, splashing water up and over his shoulders and chest. Hot baths were a luxury almost unheard of. He could not even remember clearly the last one he had had, except that he had been small, and it had been many years ago, in the chill of winter. Perhaps that year Keth and Hozah had not been pleased.
Sitting there in the steaming water, sweat rolling down the nape of his neck to his shoulders, he promised himself: he would please them. With everything in him, he would please them.
Some time later–he was not entirely sure how long–an acolyte entered the room. Whether it was the same one or not, he wasn’t sure, for their hoods were low enough to cover their faces and their bodies were hidden beneath their robes. But a robe of his own was held out for him, and he was wrapped in it, dripping, and led away. There in another room close by, the acolyte was joined by another of his fellows, and together they brought in a large wooden chest and opened it. From it they removed golden bracelets, anklets, a torque, and bottles of richly scented oils. Together they removed his robe and oiled him, silent in the flickering candlelight. After a time it began to feel strange, truly strange, to stand here naked and oiled this way, and Jaith closed his eyes and tried to let his mind wander. But it didn’t get far before he felt slick fingers working into the cleft of his ass, parting him, pressing against him.
No one had ever touched him there. No one. His eyes flew open and he gasped, instinctively trying to pull away, but one of the acolytes was holding him in place with strong hands on his shoulders.
“Be easy,” the acolyte murmured. “It won’t hurt. But we must prepare you.”
The breath that Jaith pulled in was strained, stuttering, but after a second or two he stilled and forced himself to relax, his muscles to uncoil. The finger was still there, pressing and insistent, and he knew what was coming before it happened. That one intrusive point, pushing slowly into him. At first it almost hurt, every part of him tensed and ready for it to worsen, but the acolyte holding him whispered “Be easy” once more.
And, slowly, Jaith was easy.
Almost at once the discomfort eased, and though there was a faint burn, it wasn’t unpleasant. He felt slick, slippery, overheated and weirdly alert. He tipped his head back and closed his eyes, dragging in another of those stuttering breaths, and as the finger worked deeper and deeper into his body, he became aware that it was beginning to feel good. More than good. He opened his eyes and looked down at himself, but he hadn’t needed to look to know that his cock was hardening, swelling, standing up eagerly as if in anticipation of something wonderful.
Jaith moaned softly, and the first finger was joined by a second, slow and very careful.
He wanted to touch himself. He wanted to bring himself to the edge of that wonderful cliff that he had discovered so many years ago now, he wanted to fling himself over the edge until he lay limply at the bottom, broken and glowing. He wanted to, but when he reached down to take himself in hand the acolyte holding him stopped him with a hand on Jaith’s wrist and a shake of his cowled head.
“No,” he murmured, and there was a trace of a smile in his voice. “That’s for your Keth to do. If you’re permitted.”