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JUNE 2012: I’ve made a small edit to correct a noted inconsistency. At one point Mavrida tells Sherinel he’s been recuperating in Dorriven’s village for days, yet later on I originally described him as waking a couple of days after his arrival in the village. What I actually meant, of course, and the way it now reads, is that he woke a couple of days after his first awakening in the village. Numerous similar inconsistencies doubtless exist, and might be dealt with sooner or later...!
To quote a running gag from The Goon Show: This is where the story really starts.
Actually most of this instalment didn’t even exist in my original storyline. It was originally conceived as a completely separate story that I never finished because the plot didn’t really work. It was only much later that I realised I could adapt the idea to the Ketrin storyline.
The idea of a frozen man being worshipped as a god isn’t entirely new. Margaret St. Clair (alias Idris Seabright) used it in her 1953 story “Thirsty God”, and the concept also makes a brief but significant cameo appearance in John Brunner’s 1970 story “The Wager Lost by Winning”, subsequently incorporated into The Traveller in Black (1971, rev & exp 1986). I’m using the idea with grateful acknowledgements to those authors, and any others who may also have used it without my knowledge (and if so I’d be grateful if anyone could tell me who they are).
The scene with the vrix and the torvas is actually taken straight out of a nature documentary (the title of which I have completely forgotten), which had an almost identical scene involving a fox and some mangoes.
The Tale of Avo and Ivo was originally written separately, but I always intended it to be a story that Ketrin heard while he was frozen. It’s basically just an extended penis joke (sic) that I thought up one day when I was in a very weird mood. The inspiration came, of all places, from one of the Kesh anecdotes in Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home. Ms Le Guin is a superb writer whose work deserves to be read by all lovers of thought-provoking quality fiction, and I am deeply ashamed of adapting her idea for this filthy gag. Though not quite so ashamed as to delete it, of course.
Getting back to Ketrin (remember Ketrin? The story’s about Ketrin): up until now, Ketrin has mainly been living among humans and wearing a waistcloth, except on those none-too-rare occasions when he would “happen” to forget. Well, his life has now taken a different turn, and he’s finished with clothing. Permanently. From now on, no matter what life throws at him, he’s going to face it naked and unashamed.
Of course, as this instalment begins he has no choice but to stand naked and face whatever life throws at him....
Before that, though, we flash back slightly to Tarvik and Sangrel, who planned to abduct Mavrida but encountered two of Ketrin’s lupinoids instead.
The story takes place several hundred light years from Earth in about AD 3501,
give or take a century or three and a few moons....
You can take the boy out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the boy.
There’s always trouble waiting when you leave your own back yard.
--Lemmy/Farren: “Lost Johnny” (song) (Hawkwind, Motörhead)
Tarvik, Sangrel and the Maiden
Tarvik thought he could hear screaming. At first he thought it was Sangrel, and then he realised it was himself as well. There was a ferocious growl, a brief impression of gaping jaws, and then he was down and there was a tearing sensation at his throat....
There was surprisingly little pain.
And then he had a vague awareness of drifting somewhere, with Sangrel nearby.
+We’re dead,+ he thought. +The lupinoids killed us.+
He felt no anger or bitterness at the thought. The time for such emotions was past.
+So what happens now?+ he thought. Even as he did so, he seemed to see the figure of a naked girl standing before him.
+Are you a goddess?+ he thought, and even though he had not spoken aloud - indeed, no longer seemed to have a voice - the girl heard his thoughts and replied.
+There are some who call me that,+ the girl thought into his mind. +I just think of myself as someone who’s trying to do some good in this world. I am the Maiden, and I stand as a statue in a state of perpetual ecstasy while energy flows out of me and enriches the world. If you wish you can also join me in my everlasting bliss.+
+Yes, Maiden,+ they both thought. +We’ll join you and do some good as well.+
And with that, Tarvik and Sangrel felt sensation return. Once more they had a body, but it felt strange because they both had the same body, and it was the body of a woman. They and the Maiden had become more intimate than any lovers.
Even stranger was their new body’s perfect immobility. No matter what happened, it would never move. They were inhabiting the body of a statue, yet a statue that could see and hear and feel. It was like the fate that Borvinn had decreed for Ketrin, and yet it was not a torture.
They were standing in the middle of a village. People were going about their everyday business, occasionally smiling in the direction of their stone body. The people had pale skin and their houses and clothing had unfamiliar designs, but Tarvik and Sangrel could see that despite the differences the people were essentially no different from anyone else.
And already they had begun to feel the bliss that the Maiden had told them of as it coursed through her - and their - stone torso and limbs. It had the force of an orgasm but infinitely greater sensuousness, and it went on and on and on. Too powerful for their statue-body to contain, it flowed out of it and into the soil and the people of the village and beyond, taking the Maiden’s love and compassion with it.
+Now,+ the Maiden told them, +why don’t you tell me all about yourselves? And then I’ll tell you how my friends are going to help save Ketrin and the lupinoids.+
Silverpaw and Ketrin (and Borvinn)
Silverpaw paced around Ketrin in frustration. He knew his brother was in some kind of trouble but was at a loss to know how to help him. He tried nudging the boy with his snout, but Ketrin’s body seemed rooted to the spot. Ketrin was not injured, and apart from the fading odour of stipple toxins there was no scent that might have betrayed the presence of poison or disease. How was he to help his two-legged brother?
+Sherinel,+ thought Ketrin, projecting an image of his friend’s appearance and scent. +You must find Sherinel. Shadow may be with him. Do you understand?+
The great beast whined like a frightened cub. He was afraid to leave his brother at the mercy of striagons - or worse, humans. And anyway, if Ketrin couldn’t move, how could he eat or drink without help?
+I’m sorry, Silverpaw,+ thought Ketrin. His thought-projections consisted of images and feelings, but if translated into words they would have said: +If you stay with me you cannot help me. You cannot feed me. You can’t open my mouth, even if I could swallow. And one lupinoid couldn’t save me from a striagon. If one attacked me while you were here, your only hope of survival would be to abandon me. So you see, as much as I love you, my brother, I’m no worse off without you. It may be that I won’t starve while I am like this, and only you can fetch help for me.+
Silverpaw whimpered miserably, but could not argue with his brother’s logic.
+Go now, Silverpaw,+ projected Ketrin. +Go quickly. Don’t look back. Find Sherinel and return as swiftly as you can.+
Despite his reluctance Silverpaw could not disobey. After a moment he raised himself up on his hind legs, placed his front paws on Ketrin’s shoulders, and licked his face in a gesture of farewell. Then he turned tail and bounded away as fast as his legs would carry him, never looking back.
It was then that Ketrin discovered that his tear glands were not paralysed.
Borvinn was terrified to see the lupinoid bounding at full tilt in his direction. Ironically his invisibility spell was still working, now that it was no longer of the slightest use. The beast could not see him to avoid him.
But just when it seemed the lupinoid was about to run straight into Borvinn’s invisible body, something made it veer off to one side. It was as if the creature had unconsciously sensed he was there and had swerved to avoid him without even realising it. Borvinn could almost feel its fur brushing his legs as it sped past. If he could have moved he would have shuddered.
Once that crisis was past, Borvinn could do nothing but stare helplessly at Ketrin’s beautiful naked back, cursing his own painfully erect penis and paralysed hands.
Hard as Stone
Days went by while Ketrin continued to stand helpless. Since becoming paralysed he had felt neither hunger nor thirst nor the need to make water or stools, yet something was keeping him alive without these basic bodily functions. And if he did not die of thirst after so many days without water, then perhaps...perhaps he would never die at all, but would remain motionless as a carved figure until the end of the world. It was like being dead, yet remaining alive to experience it.
In order to take his mind off of Borvinn, Ketrin turned his thoughts to Shadow and Sherinel. Where were they? Silverpaw must be well on his way to finding their trail by now, assuming that Borvinn had not killed them, and they had not met a hungry Striagon on their travels.
Ketrin could not think of Sherinel without remembering his scent, the sound of his voice, the touch of his hands, his tongue, his lips....
The memory of Sherinel’s lovemaking had given Ketrin an erection. His brain reflexively sent commands to his hands, but to no avail.
It was ironic. The one part of his body that was not paralysed, apart from his eyes, was the part that could not perform any useful activity on its own. He was not only helpless, but seemingly doomed to an eternity of sexual frustration.
(Had he known that Borvinn was in an identical predicament, Ketrin might have at least felt some satisfaction.)
And yet the thought of his own helplessness aroused him still further. It was a vicious circle. The more he wanted to masturbate and could not, the harder and more sensitive his penis became, until it stood hard as stone, raised well above horizontal, and quivered as if attempting to achieve orgasm by itself.
By itself! Was that possible? One or two of the village youths had boasted of such a thing, but Ketrin had never seen it done. But the thought reminded him of all the other things the village boys did to themselves by hand, with feathers and cloths and pieces of fur, and of the things they did to each other, willing and (seemingly) unwilling, with hands and lips and tongues and teeth and leather straps and fruit and ropes and penises.
His erection pulsed and throbbed. The thought of his unbreakable paralysis only caused his erection to throb all the more.
Yes, he thought. Perhaps it is possible.
He thought of the girls’ bodies as they bathed, their bare legs and arms and breasts and buttocks shimmering in the water. He thought of the way that from time to time some girl would creep up behind another and caress her buttocks or place a hand between her legs, or perhaps slip her arms around the other girl and fondle her breasts. Often the second girl would make some token resistance, but not for long.
The first time Ketrin had watched the girls bathe, crouching by the spyhole in the fence, his waistcloth discarded, another of the watching boys had sidled up to him and begun to help him masturbate. And so, while the girls continued to finger and mouth each other’s genitalia, Ketrin and the other boy were doing much the same to each other. The girls were trying not to moan too loudly so as not to disturb the guards behind the outer fence, and the boys were also trying to keep silent so as to prevent the girls from realising they were being watched from behind the inner fence.
(In fact, although Ketrin never knew it, there was also a spyhole in the guards’ fence, which meant it was a miracle that no wild animal had ever attacked the girls.)
By the end of his first day watching the girls bathe Ketrin could not remember if he had achieved six orgasms or seven.
The throbbing in Ketrin’s penis was becoming almost unbearable. So close, he thought, so very close...!
He thought of Sherinel, of the curiosity and desire he had seen in the other youth’s eyes from the day he first saw him. He thought of Sherinel’s kindness and generosity, and of the simple courage that even Borvinn’s cruelty had not been able to stifle. Ketrin realised that he had loved Sherinel even before he had desired him.
He remembered the first night they made love beneath the moons. He remembered how Sherinel’s brown body shone like red gold in the moonslight. He remembered the feel of Sherinel’s smooth chest and stomach, his firm calves and bottom. He thought of the touch of Sherinel’s lips upon his own, and upon his chest, his stomach, and finally his penis. He remembered the feel of Sherinel’s hands upon his back, his legs, buttocks, chest and face.
That night they had experimented with every technique they could imagine for giving each other pleasure, careful not to hurry but instead letting their excitement build slowly, slowly, until at last they could contain it no longer and each of them had felt the sudden rush of euphoria which told them that climax was inevitable....
....And that was the very sensation that Ketrin was now beginning to feel! It had taken an enormous effort, but he had succeeded. He had given himself a spontaneous orgasm!
YES! He thought. I have done it! I can’t move, (at this thought his euphoria built even further), but I can still give myself pleasure. Whatever else happens, Borvinn’s curse cannot take that away from me. I am alive! I...can...FEEL!
And then his thoughts were swept away by a tidal wave of overpowering ecstasy that erupted from his genitals and washed over his entire body, becoming stronger and stronger and stronger. His skin was on fire from head to foot. He wanted to howl like a lupinoid at the sheer intensity of his sensations, but he could do nothing but feel. All other thoughts and senses deserted him, and for what seemed an eternity he became a living embodiment of Orgasm itself.
And while he underwent this astonishing experience he had another vision of the pale girl who was somehow also a statue. Somehow Ketrin understood that in some fashion he could not fully understand she was alive within a stone body, just as he was alive in his paralysed body, and she was feeling the same orgasmic sensations he now felt. He didn’t know how, but she was responsible for the incredible intensity of his climax.
Then the vision was gone but his climax continued, and continued, and continued, as if one moment had been stretched into hours.
Finally, long after Ketrin thought he would die of ecstasy, the wave broke, sending pulses of pleasure throughout his lower body as he sprayed the undergrowth with semen. If Ketrin could have sighed he would have done. His cheeks were wet with tears from the physical and emotional intensity of his sensations.
Borvinn, watching from behind, could only see Ketrin’s buttocks (oh, those incredible buttocks!) quiver slightly and the bushes shake a little. But when, a few moments later he caught a faint scent of semen and realised what must have happened, his rage and jealousy almost drove him insane. Even when he was totally helpless, the damned wild boy could still come all by himself! And he, Borvinn, the chief hunter, the man who was meant to enslave and possess the wild boy, couldn’t even do that!
The euphoric Ketrin knew he could not repeat his experience in a hurry. It had taken too much out of him. His balls were tingling and his shrinking penis ached from base to tip. But if he could manage to give himself even a fraction of that pleasure every once in a while his helplessness would at least be tolerable.
His ecstasy was gradually replaced by lethargy, and though Ketrin could no longer sleep he found himself slipping gently into a euphoric trance. The image of the stone girl floated before him. She seemed to be real, although Ketrin had the impression that she was far away. Had someone ensorcelled her in the same way Borvinn had ensorcelled him? Perhaps she would tell him some day.
Then, for a while, all conscious thought left him and the troubles of the world no longer existed.
Crystal and Water
A very long way from where Ketrin and Borvinn stood helpless, a small glowing jewel floated lazily down a river into which it had accidentally been dropped by a plumebird. For a long time it drifted on the gentle current until it lodged in the muddy shallows of a small lake.
The jewel had been lost ages ago by the old sorcerer, and fortunately for Ketrin and his friends the old man had completely forgotten its existence.
I was a Teenage Statue
Days passed slowly. Vines began to climb Ketrin’s rigid legs in lazy helices while fanbirds used his head and shoulders as convenient perches and drove him to distraction by constantly screeching in his ears. His skin and hair were becoming caked with their sun-dried droppings, and he wished it would rain so that both the birds and their leavings would be washed away. But there seemed to be little chance of rain now; the dry season was setting in. He vowed that if ever he were freed from his paralysis he would learn archery, just so he could shoot the birds down. He dreamt of feasting on the birds for a moon and a day just to pay them back, no matter how bad they tasted.
He supposed it might have been worse. The forest was also home to fruit-eating leatherwings. Ketrin knew from unpleasant experience that creatures whose diet consisted entirely of sticky, acid fruit produced sticky, acid droppings. Furthermore they had absolutely no qualms about whom or what they dropped them on. Ketrin couldn’t decide which smelled worse, the flying rodents or their droppings. What was certain was that the smell of leatherwing guano had taken days to wash out of his hair, and until it was washed out not even the most strongly scented garland could mask the stench completely. From that day onward he had always given their nesting sites a wide berth. Fortunately that prudence seemed to have paid off in that there were no leatherwing nests nearby.
From time to time he heard rustlings in the bush, which aroused both hopes and fears. He hoped the sounds might portend the return of Shadow, Silverpaw and Sherinel, but feared that instead they might be the noise of a hunting striagon.
He had not seen any striagons yet, but the thought of what one of the striped killers might do to a helpless victim was never far from his thoughts. To meet a striagon under any circumstances would almost certainly be fatal, but to face slaughter without the ability to lift a finger in his defence was a prospect that terrified Ketrin beyond description. And suppose the curse refused to let him die even if his flesh were slashed to ribbons by teeth and claws? That was almost too horrific to contemplate.
One such rustling heralded the arrival of a visitor, but to his relief it was a lupinoid. It was not a member of his pack, and although he hoped it might help him, it only gave him a few brusque replies to his telepathic overtures. It was clearly uncomfortable with the idea of a human that could communicate with its kind.
No, it had not seen or scented Silverpaw or Shadow, nor had it encountered any humans answering to the descriptions of Borvinn or Sherinel. In any case, why couldn’t Ketrin go and look for them himself, ignorant two-leg that he was?
When Ketrin explained that he couldn’t search for them because he was paralysed, the lupinoid decided that in his vulnerable state he’d probably be eaten by a striagon soon, so there was no point in further discourse anyway.
+Thank you for reminding me,+ Ketrin thought, as the lupinoid strode away indifferently. +A striagon may be the very next thing I see.+
In fact the very next thing Ketrin saw was even less of a threat. It was much smaller than a striagon or a lupinoid, although at first glance it might have been mistaken for a lupinoid cub. It was literally only knee-high to one of Ketrin’s brothers, and not much longer than Ketrin’s forearm.
The creature was a vrix, a carnivore that lived mainly upon small rodents and birds. Ketrin had often seen vrixes in the forest, but they usually gave him and his lupinoids a wide berth. Lupinoids generally ignored vrixes, since they were too small to be rivals, and would not attack them except in times of extreme famine. In one exceptionally dry year the ten-year-old Ketrin and his pack had been forced to live on all sorts of tiny creatures, even insects and grubs, and had considered those few vrixes they managed to catch to be rare delicacies.
Now, though, this vrix at least gave Ketrin something to look at besides trees and flowers. The little creature strolled into the small clearing, and then looked up in surprise as it noticed Ketrin for the first time. Then it noticed the fanbird sitting upon Ketrin’s head. The fanbird also noticed the vrix. The bird was probably out of the vrix’s jumping range, but it decided not to take any chances and flew off in search of a taller perch. Ketrin was grateful to his visitor for scaring off the wretched bird.
Disappointed by the loss of a potential meal, the vrix strolled forward to take a good sniff at Ketrin. His immobility puzzled the creature, which had no idea what to make of something that smelled like an animal but behaved like a tree. After walking around him for a while, the vrix raised itself upon its forepaws and leant upon his vine-swaddled right knee, craning its neck to try and get a better look at Ketrin’s higher reaches.
After a few moments the vrix apparently decided that Ketrin was simply an odd sort of tree. Much to the frozen wildling’s irritation, it raised its leg and scent-marked his feet and ankles.
Dropping back on all fours it began strolling back the way it had come, but before it reached the edge of the clearing it spotted a torva bush that it had not noticed before. Although basically carnivorous, vrixes were not averse to supplementing their diets with fresh fruit, and the bush had shed several ripe torvas.
Ketrin had enjoyed wild torvas for years before learning that the villagers also liked them enough to cultivate them. The way the vrix’s tail wagged in anticipation suggested that it was as fond of the fruit as any human, and Ketrin found himself becoming envious of the little creature. What he wouldn’t give for a taste of fresh fruit...or better still, meat...or anything at all.
The vrix seemed hesitant at first. Clearly it was trying to decide which fruit was ripest. After a moment it made up its mind and picked one up in its jaws. But as it turned to go it noticed another torva lying nearby. After a long pause for thought it carefully put down the fruit it was carrying and picked up the other one. But then, to Ketrin’s amusement, as it was about to make off with its new prize, it spotted the original fruit lying where it had left it.
The vrix looked confused for a moment, then put down the new torva and picked up the original. Then it paused in an apparent agony of indecision before putting down the first fruit again and picking up the second....
The poor creature’s dilemma continued for several minutes, by the end of which Ketrin would have been laughing out loud if he could. Finally, to Ketrin’s even greater amusement, the vrix discarded both of its original choices, picked up a third fruit and strolled away wagging its tail contentedly, its earlier confusion forgotten.
Ketrin hoped the vrix enjoyed its meal. It had at least entertained him for a while, despite anointing his feet with its smelly urine. At least vrix urine didn’t smell quite as bad as leatherwing guano.
The vrix did not return that day, but neither did any of the tiresome fanbirds, and Ketrin felt more content than he had since becoming frozen.
Sherinel and Mavrida
Sherinel woke to find himself lying on an unfamiliar bed. Outside the house it was pitch dark. The moons had gone wherever they went when they were not in the sky, and only a few lanterns were lit.
I made it, he thought. Shadow led me back to civilisation. Assuming these villagers are more civilised than my old neighbours. But then, they could hardly be less.
He wondered where Shadow was now. Perhaps he had gone to find Ketrin already.
And then he felt an unfamiliar stirring in his mind. He wasn’t sure what it was, but there was something about it that reminded him of Shadow.
Even as he thought of the lupinoid, he had a brief vision of Shadow standing on a hillside between two other lupinoids, looking down at the village. Something told Sherinel that the village they were looking at was the one where he now found himself, and that the vision was a true one. Shadow and his companions were waiting for Sherinel to recover.
It was almost as if the lupinoid had placed a small piece of himself in Sherinel’s mind so that each would always know where the other was. But how was that possible?
Sherinel sat up. He felt hot, sweaty and weak, and his throat was dry, but his stomach wound was not so painful. Somebody had replaced his makeshift dressing with a clean one.
There was a stirring on the other side of the room, and Sherinel realised that he was not alone.
“Sherinel?” It was a woman’s voice, speaking almost in a whisper. “Are you awake? I have to talk to you.”
“Who are you?” he said. “How do you know my name? I’ve never been here before.”
There was a sound of sparkstones being struck, and Sherinel blinked at a sudden flare of light. The woman lit an oil lamp and brought it across to Sherinel’s bed. Once his eyes became accustomed to the light he was able to see the woman clearly.
“Mavrida!” he exclaimed. “What brought you here?”
“Two of Ketrin’s lupinoids,” said Mavrida. “This is my sister’s village. Ketrin insisted that I should take the lupinoids with me for protection. And they did protect me, but...well, I’ll tell you the whole story later.”
“So that was how Shadow knew where to bring me. He was following his friends’ scent.”
Sherinel’s voice was hoarse and parched. Mavrida crossed the room to the water jug, filled a cup and handed it to Sherinel.
“Here. Drink. We’ve been worried about you. You only just made it through the village gate before you collapsed. You’ve been unconscious for days.”
“Days?” he muttered, lowering the cup. “Then what about the hunt? And Ketrin?”
“I don’t know,” said Mavrida. “I was hoping you’d be able to tell me what happened to Ketrin.”
“I’m sorry, Mavrida. We were in separate parties, and I didn’t see him after we left the village.”
He went on to describe his terrifying encounter with the striagon.
“I really don’t know why I’m still alive,” he told her. “When I woke up it was just gone. There wasn’t a sign of it. And Shadow...I could have sworn the striagon broke his back, but there was hardly a scratch on him. And without his help I’d never have made it back here. Oh, gods, why did we ever think of lupinoids as dumb brutes?”
A shadow crossed Mavrida’s face.
“They may not be dumb,” she muttered, “but they can be brutal.”
And with that, she blurted out the story of how the lupinoids had killed Sangrel and Tarvik.
“The blood,” she whispered with a shudder. “Oh, gods, it was horrible. Sharavel told me they were just defending themselves, but I still can’t get it out of my mind.”
“You met Sharavel too?” asked Sherinel. “Was he all right?”
“Yes. He found Sangrel and Tarvik first, just after the lupinoids had...”
Mavrida shuddered again.
“But they didn’t attack Sharavel? Then that proves they’re intelligent, Mavrida. If they’d been striagons they wouldn’t have made any distinction between friend and foe.”
“I suppose so,” said Mavrida. “Even so...I don’t suppose I shall ever really feel comfortable about them.”
“Tha’s what I thought,” said Sherinel, his words slurred by fatigue, “bu’ now I almos’ feel like...like I could get inside their heads....”
Before Mavrida could ask what he meant, Sherinel was asleep.
Sherinel and the Lupinoids
While he slept Sherinel dreamed - if it was a dream - that he and his companions were running through the moonslit forest. The scent of the prey was almost overwhelming now. As he burst into a clearing the startled prey darted off to one side, only to find one of his companions waiting for it. Escaping by a hairsbreadth it bolted once more. Patiently the three hunters pursued their quarry until finally, exhausted, it collapsed. Sherinel’s dream-self moved in for the kill, savouring the taste of the prey’s hot, sweet blood. As leader first blood was his, and the others waited patiently for their turn.
After feeding the hunters lay together contentedly for a while, basking in each other’s familiar scent, until another scent began to register. It was faint at first, but growing stronger. Not the scent of prey this time, but one of their own kind. Eagerly they ran to greet it.
Their fellow hunter was hungry and exhausted, but greeted them enthusiastically. The newcomer conveyed as best he could that he had travelled a long way to find them but had had to leave his two-leg companion behind. The three agreed to return with him, but suggested waiting until their other two-leg companion had recovered from his injuries. He was currently dwelling in the nearby two-leg den along with the missing companion’s mother, but would rejoin them once he was well enough to travel.
Once they were agreed upon that, they embarked upon another small-game hunt to feed their starving brother, and once he was fed they settled down to sleep as the first light of dawn began to filter through the trees.
Sherinel woke. Sunlight was streaming through the house’s small window-hole.
It had not been a dream, he realised. Somehow he had been inside Shadow’s head, and had experienced everything the lupinoid had experienced that night. The newcomer was Silverpaw. He had been with Ketrin, but had then had to leave him for some reason and had spent some time searching for Shadow and Sherinel. Perhaps Ketrin was in trouble and needed their help. If so, then Sherinel was in no state to provide it just yet.
Sherinel groaned. Ketrin could be dying in agony and there was nothing he could do to help.
Vampire Sex Venom
Sherinel could not have been more wrong about Ketrin. Helpless as he was, his condition was not without its compensations. One evening, Ketrin heard a soft fluttering and to his surprise a small leatherwing settled upon his shoulder. It was not one of the fruit-eating variety; that soon became apparent when Ketrin felt a sharp sting at the base of his neck and realised that the creature was drinking his blood.
Blood-drinking leatherwings usually preyed upon large grazing animals while they slept. Occasionally they would try drinking from a sleeping human or lupinoid, but in such cases their victims usually woke up and shook them off. Ketrin of course had no such option, and could only wait for the annoying little creature to drink its fill and fly away.
While the leatherwing contentedly siphoned his lifeblood, Ketrin began to feel curious sensations. The air seemed to turn pale blue and there was a strong smell of fish. Was the leatherwing’s bite somehow responsible?
And then Ketrin began to feel invisible hands and tongues caressing him from head to foot. He was instantly and hugely aroused, and the invisible fingers slowly and skilfully went to work upon his erection, kneading and squeezing its hot shaft and gently sliding its uncircumcised foreskin back and forth over its head while other fingers caressed every inch of his hypersensitized scrotum. At the same time he seemed to feel another hot, hard shaft sliding into his anus and nudging his prostate from behind, sending shivers of pleasure up and down his spine.
Ketrin didn’t understand what was happening to him or how, but he didn’t care. He was content to give himself up to the pleasure which went on for hour after hour until finally he was overtaken by a flood of ecstasy that swept away all conscious thought.
At last his ecstasy faded, leaving him feeling drained. The invisible hands were gone, and there was a dull ache in his neck. A breeze caressed his shoulder as the leatherwing flew away, and Ketrin suddenly realised that the creature could not really have been feeding for hours or it would have burst.
Amazingly the entire sexual experience had been an hallucination caused by some substance in the blood-drinker’s fangs, and in reality it had only taken a few minutes. But his orgasm had not been imaginary, judging by the way his genitalia were throbbing and by the white splashes on the nearby bushes.
Ketrin wondered if other creatures had similar experiences with blood-drinkers, or if he had only felt it because his human body had been altered somehow by drinking lupinoid milk.
Whatever caused it, he thought, the leatherwings are welcome to a little of my blood in exchange!
Sherinel and Dorriven
A day or two after his first awakening in the village, Sherinel woke to see a strange face looking down at him. The man was about forty and had the stern, rugged look of one who was used to command. It reminded Sherinel somewhat of Borvinn, but without Borvinn’s cynical sneer. And there was something else about the man: a scent, faint but distinctive, that Sherinel recognised only too well.
“Good morning,” the man said. “Didn’t mean to wake you. Valizen told me about your arrival the other day. Since I wasn’t here when you arrived, I just came to see how they were treating you. My name’s Dorriven, by the way...”
“You’re a hunter,” said Sherinel. “There’s a scent of striagons about you.”
“Ah, yes,” said Dorriven. “I gather you became familiar with striagons the hard way. You’re right, of course. I’m the chief hunter for this village. It took four of us to bring down a striagon yesterday, and yet you say you survived an encounter with one single-handed. If I said you were lucky to be alive it would be an understatement. You must tell me how you managed it sometime.”
“I would if I could,” said Sherinel hoarsely. “It just seemed to vanish into thin air, but not before it left me this wound.”
Dorriven considered this for a moment. He might have been sceptical about Sherinel’s claim to have been attacked by a striagon, were it not for the evidence of his wound. It was currently dressed with a fresh bandage, but Valizen and Mavrida, who had seen the extent of Sherinel’s injury with their own eyes, had confirmed that it could only have been caused by a wild animal.
Sherinel coughed. “Would you mind fetching me some water, please?”
Dorriven nodded and moved to the water jug. “Well, you’ll be safe enough here,” he said. “My hunters are trained to deal with striagons and any other wild beasts that might threaten the village.” Handing the cup to Sherinel, he went on: “Matter of fact, I’m sending a patrol out later today to investigate reports of a pack of lupinoids in the vicinity. Three or four of them, they tell me.”
Sherinel fought to keep from choking on his drink. “Um...really? That’s a bit unusual, isn’t it? I thought they always avoided villages.”
“The mangy beasts are getting bolder,” said Dorriven. “But don’t you worry about them, lad. By tomorrow their pelts will be hanging on the village gate as a warning to their fellows.”
“Well, er, that’s nice to know,” said Sherinel, praying that his face was not betraying his true emotions.
+Shadow,+ he thought. +Shadow, can you hear me?+
For a long moment Sherinel felt nothing, and he began to think that his earlier communication with the lupinoid had been nothing but a fever-dream. But then he felt a stirring in his mind and knew that it had not been a dream. Shadow had heard his call and was responding.
Sherinel, more in images and feelings than words, told Shadow of the threat from the village hunters. Shadow was reluctant to leave before Sherinel was recovered, but was eventually forced to concede. When Dorriven’s party arrived they would find the lupinoids gone.
A few days after the leatherwing’s visit Ketrin was visited by another small predator, but the encounter threatened to be far less pleasant. His last experience with such a creature had taught him to treat them with respect. In his helpless state, its approach caused the lime-encrusted hairs on the back of his neck to stand up.
The creature was little bigger than the palm of his hand, covered in fine red and black hairs, and was crawling toward him at a leisurely pace on ten furry legs. The villagers called it a red-band arachnoid, but Ketrin had first tasted the creature’s venom two years before he ever returned to the village.
A red-band had been resting upon a tree branch that Ketrin had brushed against, causing it to fall onto his leg. He still bore a small scar above his left ankle where the panicked arachnoid had bitten him. The pain had been immediate and indescribable. Within minutes he had been seized with cramps, nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting while violent stabbing pains spread to every part of his body.
Ketrin had spent almost two days in agony, tended by his anxious lupinoid brothers as he wished in vain for merciful death. When at last the pain had begun to fade he had wept with relief. And although the lupinoids had no concept of gods or religion, Ketrin had found himself offering up something very like a prayer to whatever power might listen, both to offer thanks for his salvation, and to pray that he might never again be forced to endure such pain.
But now it seemed that his prayer had gone unanswered. The arachnoid had passed beneath Ketrin’s field of vision, and he could feel the vine that entwined his left foot shifting as the creature began to climb it. Soon it would run out of vine and begin crawling up his bare leg.
If the red-band were to bite him now, his suffering would surely be even worse than before. He would be unable to scream, unable to vomit no matter how bad his nausea might become...and worst of all, if his body was not able to flush out the poison...then his agony might never end. That seemed an even more horrible prospect than being mauled by a striagon.
The arachnoid was now upon his leg. Ketrin sweated profusely as he felt ten hairy legs slowly creeping up his calf....
At that very moment a sudden weight settled on his head, and he was almost deafened by a distinctive screeching call. Another fanbird had chosen Ketrin for a perch. If the arachnoid were startled by the fanbird’s cry it might bite....
But no. The red-band simply continued its leisurely climb, while the bird screeched and squawked every few moments, jarring his already raw nerves beyond belief. Then the bird decided to add a fresh dollop or two to the strata of guano upon his hair.
At first he thought it was just nerves that were making his leg tingle, but then he realised that the sensation was present wherever the arachnoid’s legs had touched him. Not only was its bite poisonous, but the hairs on its body must contain an irritant. His leg was beginning to itch terribly where the arachnoid had crawled over it. And it was impossible to scratch!
Now the arachnoid had reached his groin. Ten hairy legs were slowly crawling over his scrotum and the base of his penis, which, being more sensitive than his legs, soon began to burn with inflammation.
Tears of rage, pain and fear had begun to leak from Ketrin’s eyes. To fall from a tree and break his arm, to be struck by lightning, even to have his throat torn out by a lupinoid from a rival pack - these were all risks that he understood and accepted as part of jungle life. But to be subjected to this agonising wait for a torture that might never end - that was unnatural and cruel beyond belief. It was a fate that he would not have wished upon his worst enemy.
Soon the arachnoid reached Ketrin’s abdomen. He had once heard that a wound to the gut was the most painful kind of all.
There was a rustling in the bushes. What now? thought Ketrin.
It was the vrix. The small carnivore looked up at Ketrin and noticed the fanbird sitting on his head....
Ketrin sweated. If the vrix made a lunge for the bird it might easily startle the arachnoid into biting. Ketrin found himself praying once more that some god, or some such nebulous power as he had prayed to once before, might save him.
The vrix darted forward. The bird shat once more as it flew away, depositing a streak of guano down Ketrin’s back. The vrix growled in frustration, then saw the arachnoid for the first time and took a step back as if pondering its next move.
A sudden idea flashed into Ketrin’s mind. He was able to share thoughts with his lupinoid pack, and the vrix resembled a small lupinoid. Was it possible that he could communicate with it in the same way?
He had to try.
At first the vrix did not seem to notice Ketrin’s thought projection, but then Ketrin became aware of a presence in his mind. It was vague and ill defined, but it was definitely coming from the vrix. There was a distorted image of a gigantic tree-beast, which Ketrin realised was meant to represent himself, and it was linked with the pleasure of hunting for birds and of eating ripe fruit.
The vrix was telling him that it associated him with the things it liked. It was telling him that he was its friend.
+Yes,+ thought Ketrin. +I am your friend. Will you help your friend now by killing the many-legs?+
After only a moment’s consideration the vrix answered with direct action. Bounding forward, it leapt onto the creeper that wound around Ketrin’s knee and used it as a springboard for its next jump. But the arachnoid was just too quick for it; as the vrix lunged it scuttled up Ketrin’s chest. The vrix’s jaws closed on Ketrin’s stomach as the arachnoid clambered up to Ketrin’s shoulder and leapt clear. By the time the vrix had somersaulted back onto the ground the arachnoid was gone.
+Sorry, tree,+ thought the vrix.
The vrix’s bite was sore, but Ketrin had survived worse. The important question was, had the arachnoid bitten him as well?
It would only take a moment to find out. His stomach was bleeding a little. He was itching madly from his knee to his shoulder, everywhere the arachnoid’s irritating hairs had touched him. The skin of his genitalia felt especially raw and painful. And the fanbird’s corrosive shit was irritating his scalp and back.
But those were the only pains he felt. There was no sting, no sudden burst of agony, no stabbing pains all over his body, no fever and nausea. The arachnoid had not bitten him. He was safe.
The relief was overwhelming. The trickle of water from Ketrin’s eyes became a flood. +Thank you, my little friend,+ he projected. +Thank you.+
The vrix projected a thought that might have been interpreted in words as: +Hey, no problem. Pity about the snack. Thanks anyway, tree.+
Then it padded away in search of other prey.
All the fear and stress of the last hour had left Ketrin emotionally drained, and once more he wished he could sleep. The best Ketrin could manage was to slip into another waking trance. It was not as refreshing as sleep but at least it saved him from worrying about what had happened to Shadow, Silverpaw and Sherinel, about whether Mavrida was still all right, and about what would happen if another poisonous creature decided to investigate his paralysed body.
And what was Borvinn doing right now?
Borvinn and the Maiden
Justice and Mercy
Borvinn was at that moment watching the arachnoid crawling toward him, just as Ketrin had done and with no less anxiety. Because of his invisibility spell the arachnoid couldn’t see or smell him, and when it encountered his foot it was annoyed by the sudden obstruction. It moved a little to the left and tried to proceed, but with no success. Then it moved to the right and was equally unsuccessful.
The arachnoid was faced with something it could not understand. After a moment its tiny brain came to a decision. It would bite the unseen obstruction and see what happened.
Borvinn felt a tiny stinging sensation as the arachnoid’s fangs punctured his sole.
Having bitten the obstruction without any result, the arachnoid scurried away in another direction with every appearance of irritation.
The stinging sensation was quickly followed by an intense, burning pain that spread rapidly up Borvinn’s leg, his abdomen and chest and thence to every part of his body. His stomach heaved involuntarily. He had a desperate urge to vomit and defecate, but the paralysis made it impossible, although some foul-smelling gas did manage to escape from his intestines.
Oh, gods, this is horrible, thought Borvinn. I never imagined it was possible to feel such pain. I don’t deserve this, for all my sins.
+There are some who might disagree with that,+ said a voice.
In his delirium he seemed to see a pale, nude girl standing before him. It seemed it was she who had spoken.
+All your sins,+ she went on. +That’s quite a catalogue, isn’t it? Child abuse, theft, rape, murder, attempted genocide...there are a great many who would consider this suffering to be no more than your deserts.+
+Are...are you a goddess?+ thought Borvinn. +I repent of my sins, truly I do! I am genuinely sorry! Please, goddess, have pity! Don’t leave me like this! You can’t imagine what this is like!+
+Actually, I do,+ she told him. +I know exactly what it’s like. I was bitten by a venomous creature when I was a child. The pain was unbearable, and I very nearly died. So, yes, Borvinn, I do have pity for you. I don’t like to see even people like you suffering.+
The girl seemed to lean in closer.
+But the thing is, Borvinn, you’re not really sorry, are you? I mean, you’re sorry that you failed to capture Ketrin and got yourself paralysed, and of course you’re sorry you’re in pain. But if I were to heal you and release you from the paralysis you’d just go right back to your old ways without a second thought. It’s true, Borvinn. Don’t deny it.+.
+No,+ thought Borvinn. +I cannot deny it. But I am begging you, goddess, please end this pain. I will do anything you ask of me, anything, but please end my suffering.+
+All right, Borvinn,+ said the girl. +Here’s what I’m going to do.+
As she spoke, a hole seemed to appear in mid-air between Borvinn and Ketrin, and another girl stepped through. She was also pale-skinned, but was dressed in a pale blue jacket and leggings. She carried a small case, from which she produced a finger-length silver cylinder. She spoke a few words in a strange language that seemed to be addressed to the nude girl.
+Yes, Vandri,+ she replied. +That’s why it’s called a tropical forest. Anyway, you’ll only have to endure the heat for a minute or two.+
Then turning her attention to Borvinn once more, she continued: +As I was saying: Vandri here is going to sting you with a substance that will take away the pain.+
The other girl pressed the tube to Borvinn’s arm - somehow she was able to see him in site of the invisibility spell - and he felt a small sting, the pain barely noticeable above his other agonies. A moment later the agony began to fade, and within moments it was gone.
Borvinn wept with relief. +Oh, thank you, goddess, thank you - +
+Don’t thank me yet, Borvinn. You no longer feel the pain, it’s true, but here’s the thing: nor are you now capable of feeling pleasure. Moreover, you will remain paralysed. If and when you are freed, and if and when your feelings will be restored, is a matter for you to decide.+
+But...but goddess, I don’t understand.+
+It’s very simple, Borvinn,+ the nude girl told him, as her companion vanished into the hole which closed behind her. +You will remain paralysed and incapable of feeling either pleasure or pain until such time as you feel genuine remorse for your sins, not just self-pity at being punished. How long that takes is up to you. It might be a moon or a year or a thousand years, but until that day you will never be freed from your paralysis.+
+And what about Ketrin?+ he thought. +I suppose you’ll be freeing him now?+
+Actually, no. He will soon be needed elsewhere, just as he is.+
+I don’t understand. Needed where?+
+Well, maybe he’ll tell you about it himself one day. Now remember what I said, Borvinn. Find true compassion within yourself and you will be freed. Only then, Borvinn.+
+Goddess, I am truly grateful to you for healing the pain, but I beg you -+
+No, Borvinn. I will not release you before you are ready. But if you really want to thank me, then pray to all your gods that your friend the sorcerer can be stopped before he destroys the world. Farewell.+
+Destroys the world? But how could he - but how do you know about - goddess, come back!+
But she was gone.
Borvinn stared at Ketrin’s bare back. He was no longer able to become aroused at the sight. He could barely feel anything.
+Goddess, come back!+ he thought. +I do repent of my sins. I do feel genuine remorse! I do!+
But his continuing immobility branded him a liar.
Ketrin and Tolar, and later Tharil
Ketrin of course remained blissfully ignorant of Borvinn’s troubles. After a few days the irritation from the arachnoid’s hairs faded, to Ketrin’s considerable relief. As the dry season set in in earnest the vines on his legs slowly withered, allowing them to breathe once more. The great waterfall flowed with less and less force and the river receded from its banks. The ground became parched, the vegetation began to wither, and fewer and fewer animals were abroad. Even the vrix eventually stopped coming. Ketrin didn’t need to eat or drink as long as the spell held him, but he began to feel thirsty because his eyes and his skin told him he should.
One morning a hunter stumbled into the clearing, spear in hand and a pack slung across one shoulder. He was the first human being Ketrin had seen for more than three moons, and the wildling wasn’t sure whether he should be pleased to see him. His pack was too small for lupinoid pelts, which was some consolation.
The hunter was tall and muscular, but thin; his ribs were clearly visible. It seemed that the drought had made food scarce and driven him to hunt small game far beyond than his usual range. The clearing where Ketrin stood was far from any village. Few humans beside Ketrin had ever discovered it.
The hunter did not see Ketrin at first, as his attention had been caught by the waterfall. Even in its reduced state the great fan of spray was an imposing sight, and he stood engrossed for several minutes. When at last he turned away, he gasped in surprise to see Ketrin looking at him.
Because he had not noticed Ketrin before, the hunter immediately came to the conclusion that the stranger must have sneaked up behind him unawares. Striding angrily toward him, the hunter demanded to know who he was and what he was doing in such a remote part of the forest, and why he appeared so well-fed. Or so Ketrin gathered; the hunter’s accent and dialect made it a little difficult to understand his exact words.
If he could have replied, Ketrin would have answered that he had as much right as any human to be in the forest, probably more so in view of his lupinoid upbringing. But he could not make a sound, and the hunter seemed to take his silence as a deliberate insult. Furious at this naked stranger’s dumb insolence, the huntsman shoved him roughly in the chest and demanded to know where he had found food. Ketrin rocked on his heels, but the paralysing spell prevented him from falling over.
This only seemed to enrage the hunter even further. Bellowing with fury, the hunter took a run at Ketrin and slammed an elbow into his chest.
The momentum of the hunter’s attack was more than enough to overcome the balancing component of the crystal spell, and Ketrin fell backwards. Of course the paralysing spell held fast, which meant that Ketrin was unable to break his fall. The ground was dry and hard, and his right shoulder struck a tree root with numbing force. But even as he lay bruised and in pain, he realised that if his shoulders had not hit the root he might have cracked his skull on the hard ground.
The hunter was puzzled. Why hadn’t his victim cried out or protested, or even attempted to defend himself? Why had he simply fallen like a log and made no move to get up? It was finally beginning to dawn on the hunter that something might be amiss. Seeing the naked youth lying at his feet, motionless yet apparently alive, the hunter began to feel shame and pity.
“What is wrong with you, lad?” he said, at least as far as Ketrin could make out. “Why don’t you answer me?”
As he knelt beside the fallen wildling, the hunter was surprised to see tears in his eyes.
Ketrin was quite surprised himself. Normally mere physical pain would not have caused him to weep, but the hunter’s attack had brought home the hopelessness of his situation. He was lonely and helpless. He missed his friends. It was almost certain that they were still in danger and there was nothing he could do to help them. He might have wished he were dead, if it were not for the fact that the lupinoids still needed him. Someday, somehow, he had to free himself, before it was too late to save his four-legged friends from extinction.
The hunter waved a hand in front of Ketrin’s face. Those strange purple eyes followed his hand, but try as he might the hunter could not provoke any other movement or sound out of the fallen stranger. “You really can’t answer, can you?” he whispered. He was beginning to feel a little frightened of the strange boy with his lupinoid eyes and his uncanny stasis.
The knife at the boy’s chest held a jewel in its hilt that cast an eerie blue glow. The hunter tried to pull out the knife and inspect it, but that proved to be impossible. The knife was solidly frozen in its sheath, and the sheath was solidly frozen to the boy’s chest, just as the boy’s limbs seemed to be solidly frozen in place.
“Sorcery,” breathed the hunter. “Surely no mortal could have done such a thing. Only the gods....”
And then the hunter gasped as realisation seemed to dawn.
“Violet eyes,” he breathed. “Oh, how could my own have been so blind?”
Carefully he rolled the naked boy onto his stomach and inspected his back for injury. There was a large welt across his right shoulder, which had taken the brunt of the impact, and it looked as if his buttocks were badly bruised, but the hunter couldn’t feel any broken bones (especially in the region of the boy’s buttocks, where his hand seemed to linger for quite a long time).
Rolling Ketrin back onto his back, the hunter gazed into his eyes and said, “I...I am sorry, my lord, truly sorry for my earlier actions. I...I didn’t understand. I know who you are now.” Placing a hand on Ketrin’s chest, next to his sheathed knife, the hunter said, “I beg your forgiveness for my insolence, Lord Ral-ne-Sa. I am Tolar of the Village of Third Hill. I will bring you to my village, and we will worship you and do honour to your lupinoid cousins and pray for deliverance from our sufferings.”
Ketrin was bewildered by the hunter’s sudden change of attitude. Ketrin had no idea who this Ral-ne-Sa might be (although the name did seem vaguely familiar somehow), or why Tolar might have mistaken Ketrin for him, but the reference to ‘lupinoid cousins’ was surprisingly accurate.
In any case, whoever Ral-ne-Sa was, the hunter’s promise to honour the lupinoids was surely an encouraging sign. If there were villages where humans befriended or even worshipped lupinoids instead of hunting and fighting them, it meant there was still hope for peace between the two races. Ketrin fervently hoped so.
Then it occurred to him that having two groups of humans with opposing views in close proximity might not be conducive to peace after all....
But then all such thoughts were forgotten as Tolar kissed him full on the mouth, and Ketrin couldn’t help developing an erection. Ketrin had never heard of gods being worshipped sexually, but he was in no position to argue, or complain. Curling his fingers about Ketrin’s impressive phallus, Tolar pledged his undying love and worship to Lord Ral-ne-Sa, before masturbating Ketrin and himself half-blind. Ketrin couldn’t do a thing to stop him (even if he had wanted to - which he eventually decided he didn’t), and that only made the experience even more intense and exciting. If only it could have been Sherinel instead of a complete stranger....
Later, while Ketrin lay in post-coital euphoria, Tolar went to try his hand at fishing. When the sun had moved some distance across the sky the hunter returned with a few small fish and some firewood.
“In this heat the fish won’t keep till I get home,” he said, “so I’ll have to eat them myself. But if I can’t find some game soon my people will all starve. Lately we have been reduced to eating vrixes, but even they can no longer be found.”
Remembering his little friend, Ketrin could not help but feel a small stab of guilt at that.
“Lord Ral-ne-Sa,” begged Tolar, “will you not help us? Will you not call upon your lupinoids to bring us food? In return the people of Third Hill will give you all the worship you could ever desire.”
And to prove it, even as he spoke, he was rolling Ketrin onto his stomach, spreading his legs apart, and beginning to worship him.
It could have been called rape, since Ketrin couldn’t stop Tolar. In fact, Tolar was succeeding precisely where Borvinn had failed. But Tolar regarded it as an act of worship, and it could never have occurred to him that the one he called Lord Ral-ne-Sa might not want to be worshipped that way.
In any case, unlike Borvinn Tolar was not malicious. He wasn’t fucking Ketrin just to feel superior. And the truth was that, despite being unable to either resist Tolar or help him, Ketrin was enjoying his attentions enormously, and somehow his helplessness was making the experience even more exciting. With each of Tolar’s thrusts, ripples of pleasure fanned out to the whole of Ketrin’s body. When he finally came, he almost blacked out from the intensity of it. He couldn’t scream, but Tolar was screaming loudly enough for both of them.
Afterward Tolar went off in search of game. It was late evening by the time he returned, and with little to show for his efforts. Sighing, the hunter went off and gathered more wood to cook what little game he had found. “It’s no use me starving,” he told Ketrin. “I have to keep my strength up if I’m to have any hope of finding food for my village.”
After he had eaten he proceeded to worship Ketrin’s unresisting body once more, all the while whispering prayers for Lord Ral-ne-Sa to deliver his people from starvation. Tolar’s dialect contained many unfamiliar words, but Ketrin’s lupinoid-milk-enhanced facility for languages meant that he soon began to pick up the hunter’s meaning - even though he was suffering constant physical distractions at the time.
Ketrin felt guilty about receiving such vast amounts of pleasure when knew he couldn’t answer the hunter’s prayers in return, but he couldn’t prevent himself from coming in another white-hot flare of ecstasy, any more than he could leap to his feet and begin stalking game.
When Tolar finally tired of his devotions, he dreamily rolled Ketrin onto his back and fell asleep beside him. Unable to sleep, Ketrin watched Goldmoon sailing across the cloudless sky, and contemplated the hopelessness of their respective situations. To save Tolar’s people would take what the priest of Mavrida’s village had called a miracle.
And then, as he remembered the kindly old priest and his tales of gods and goddesses, Ketrin realised why the name Ral-ne-Sa had seemed so familiar. Tucked away at the back of village’s impractically large collection of statuettes depicting all manner of gods, goddesses and demons, Ketrin remembered finding the figure of a man with a vrix’s head. The priest told him the figure depicted a minor deity called Ranla-Shara, who was responsible for overseeing small game like vrixes and bush-hogs.
Ranla-Shara. Change it around a little, and you got Ral-ne-Sa. It seemed that Tolar’s people not only spoke a slightly different language, but also worshipped gods with slightly different names and attributes. Certainly Lord Ral-ne-Sa, God of Lupinoids, must be a more exalted being than Lord Ranla-Shara, God of Vrixes, although presumably they were both based on the same ancient deity that had been worshipped by the ancestors of both races. Obviously Tolar did not expect Ral-ne-Sa to have a lupinoid’s head, but only a lupinoid’s eyes, as Ketrin did.
All of which was interesting enough, but didn’t help Ketrin’s current predicament in the slightest. Suppose after all the hunter’s worship of Ketrin his people starved to death anyway? The hunter might decide that Ketrin was a false god and kill him - assuming that he still had the strength to attempt it by then, and also assuming that Ketrin’s paralysing spell would allow him to die....
If only he could contact a pack of lupinoids, Ketrin might just manage to enlist their help, but it wouldn’t be easy to persuade a strange pack to obey him. He was only a paralysed two-leg, after all. In any case, Ketrin had not felt the presence of any lupinoid minds for days. All the local packs had probably gone off to search for food elsewhere.
After a while Ketrin decided that such speculations were futile. There was nothing he could do but wait and see how things turned out. Eventually he managed to relax sufficiently to slip into an almost-sleep-like trance.
The sun was well above the horizon by the time the touch of Tolar’s hands brought Ketrin back to his senses. This time, however, Tolar was not attempting to worship Ral-ne-Sa sexually. He was rolling Ketrin’s unresisting body toward a kind of wooden cot that he had lashed together and covered with leaves.
Once he had managed to lay Ketrin face-up on the leaf-covered frame, Tolar tied him firmly in place by his ankles, knees, waist, wrists, chest and shoulders. By the time he was finished Ketrin could not have moved a muscle, if he hadn’t already been paralysed.
Then for a while Tolar did worship Ral-ne-Sa sexually, this time with his lips and tongue. Once again Ketrin felt guilty about receiving a reward for a nonexistent service, but once again he couldn’t stop his body giving him unbearable sustained orgasms. That was another side effect of the lupinoid milk he had ingested when he was just a squealing, two-legged cub.
When he finally woke from his euphoric daze, Ketrin was surprised to see the trees moving at an angle. It took him a moment to realise that he was jolting and bumping through the jungle, still tied securely to the cot. Tolar had tied the head of the cot to his shoulders and was using it to drag Ketrin along with him. In this way Tolar made slow progress for the better part of the morning, until he finally decided to rest and eat near a small stream.
While they were travelling, Ketrin had been scanning and calling for lupinoid minds, but there was no reply. The good news was that he had caught no scent of striagon either.
Tolar went off to relieve himself downstream, then returned to drink upstream and take a little meat from his pack. Then he spent an hour or so masturbating Ketrin and himself, and Ketrin once more found himself wishing he could tone down his sexual responses a little. He had gone from famine to feast, and Tolar’s attentions were making him feel like a sexual glutton.
It was past noon when Tolar finally resumed his journey. He continued until evening, when once more he set Ketrin down and worshipped him blind.
The next morning he worshipped Ketrin again and went off to wash and drink and try to find more small game. Then he came back, worshipped Ketrin some more and then set off with him once again.
This was to be the routine for the next few days. Tolar might have made quicker progress if he had not stopped to pleasure Ketrin every few hours, but he seemed convinced that Lord Ral-ne-Sa must be thoroughly worshipped before he would grant his favours.
Usually Tolar worshipped the supposed Lord Ral-ne-Sa with his fingers or his mouth. Every couple of days, however, he untied Ketrin from the sled in order to refresh its leafy upholstery, and at such times he also took the opportunity to lay him face down and copulate with him, noting as he did so that his back was healing far more quickly than a mere mortal’s could.
These encounters gave Tolar fantastic and long-lasting climaxes, but he could never have imagined that his “god” was experiencing sensations a hundred times more profound and intense than his own...and nor could he have imagined that they were also driving his “god” insane with guilt at not being able to answer Tolar’s prayers.
After about nine days Tolar announced that they were within a day’s journey of his village. The ground was baked hard, and all but the biggest trees, that could store water deep within their trunks, were looking dry and parched.
Tolar had scarcely found enough food to sustain him, and the strain of dragging Ketrin for days on end was beginning to show. He spent less time worshipping “Ral-ne-Sa”, which in one sense was a relief for Ketrin but in another was worrying. Ketrin did not wish to see Tolar drop dead from starvation and exhaustion. That really would have been a poor reward for all his worship.
But in the middle of the morning Ketrin scented an unfamiliar human in the distance, and guessed that it must be one of Tolar’s fellow villagers. Tolar himself did not have Ketrin’s trained sense of smell, but a little while later he seemed to hear something and called, “Who’s there?”
Tolar’s voice was as parched as the ground, but the newcomer recognised it at once. “Tolar?” he called, in a voice no less hoarse. “Tolar, is that you? It’s Tharil. What luck have you had?”
“At finding food, very little,” Tolar admitted. “But wait till you see what I have found.”
After a little while, Ketrin heard the newcomer emerge from the trees to meet Tolar. He couldn’t see much of the encounter because he was still strapped to Tolar’s back, facing backwards.
“Well, now, what have you got on the sled there?” said Tharil. “Must be worth the effort of carrying a long way. Some big animal we can share out amongst the village, is it?”
“Not quite,” Tolar replied. “Take a look.”
So Tharil did take a look. Ketrin saw that he was about the same age as Tolar, dressed in a waistcloth and a slightly ragged cloak, beneath which his ribs stood out prominently.
“What is this?” he demanded. “A boy? You killed a boy for food? Have you gone mad, Tolar?”
“Calm down, Tharil, calm down,” said Tolar. “He’s not dead. You can see he’s breathing. And he is no boy, either. Look into his eyes. Go on, just look, and tell me what you see there.”
And so Tharil looked at Ketrin and Ketrin had no choice but to look back, and Tharil began to realise that those beautiful purple eyes could not in truth belong to a mere boy.
“Lord Ral-ne-Sa,” he breathed. “How could I ever have doubted you? Speak to me, my lord, I beg you. Let me know your will.”
But Ketrin could not speak, and he knew that in the absence of speech the hunters would interpret his silence to mean whatever they chose.
He was right. It was only a matter of moments before Tharil knelt before Ketrin, discarded his clothing and began to caress Ketrin’s genitals.
Oh, no. Please, not another one, thought Ketrin. But there was nothing he could do. His body was incapable of resisting any form of sexual stimulation. In Tharil’s skilful hands “Lord Ral-ne-Sa’s” godly phallus sprang hugely erect almost instantly. Tharil immediately took that impressive member into his mouth while Tolar took Tharil’s lesser (but no less eager) member and his own in each of his hands, and for an hour or two Ketrin could do nothing but let the waves and pulses of pleasure cascade through his paralysed body, until at long last his climax obliterated all conscious thought.
Time seemed to stand still as his rapture reached its peak, and in a kind of orgasmic trance he seemed once more to see the image of a naked girl made of pure white stone.
+Stone girl, you helped me before,+ he thought. +Will you help me now? These people worship me because they believe I can help them, but I can’t, and I am ashamed to feel so much pleasure when they are in so much pain. Their belief in me is in vain, and soon I must watch them all starve to death. How can I live with that?+
+I understand how you feel, Ketrin,+ she told him. +I am also experiencing constant pleasure, and I sometimes feel guilty that I can’t heal all other people’s pain. All that I can do - all that any of us can do, really - is try to ease as much of the world’s suffering as we can. In my case that’s quite a lot, since I have been entrusted with the power of the golden lightning, but even I can’t hold the whole world on my shoulders, solid as they are.
+But remember, Ketrin, you are a unique being. You have the mind of a lupinoid and the heart of a man. Often the man and the lupinoid fight, and that is very painful for you, but if you can persuade them to set aside their differences then they will both be amazed at what they can accomplish together. You must simply wait until the opportunity arises and then seize the moment.+
+What moment?+ Ketrin demanded. +What opportunity? I don’t understand.+
The stone figure seemed to smile gently. +Very soon you will have help in your task, and with a little luck your worshippers will find their prayers answered. Have faith in me, Ketrin, as I have faith in you.+
+But...but I don’t even know who you are,+ thought Ketrin. +Are you a god?+
+I am a statue, and I am a woman, and I am many men and women. Some day I may explain, but for now simply call me the Maiden. Farewell.+
+Wait,+ cried Ketrin. +If you have so much knowledge, can you tell me if I will ever see Mavrida or Shadow or Silverpaw or Sherinel again? And will I ever win free of Borvinn’s spell? Maiden, must I remain a statue forever?+
But all the Maiden told him was: +Ketrin, your life is going to be... interesting. We shall speak again.+
And then she was gone, and Ketrin’s seed was gushing into Tharil’s waiting mouth, and as his orgasm finally ended Ketrin slipped into euphoria and let his mind drift away.
Ketrin and the Villagers of Third Hill
Lord Ral-ne-Sa’s Arrival
Once they had both worshipped him thoroughly, both on and off of his wooden cot, the men picked him up between them and carried him past two hills and up a third to the village at its summit. By the time they arrived the men were gasping from exhaustion, and Ketrin once again felt guilty for putting them to so much trouble. It was almost midday, and the starving villagers were taking what rest they could in the shelter of their houses, but at Tharil and Tolar’s calls they stirred themselves and emerged into the central square. The two men had sat Ketrin down with his legs folded beneath him and his arms in his lap.
“Behold,” Tolar announced. “Lord Ral-ne-Sa has come among us. Our suffering will soon be at an end.”
Ketrin found his choice of words a little disturbing. The villagers’ troubles might well come to an end soon, along with their lives, and they might curse their “Lord Ral-ne-Sa” before the end.
But for now the villagers merely crowded around him, muttering and whispering amongst themselves, reaching out to touch him, and gazing deep into his lupinoid eyes. Then, once they were all thoroughly satisfied that he was indeed a god (for who but a god could maintain such perfect stillness?), they stepped back and bowed down before him.
One of them, evidently the local priest, cried; “Oh, Ral-ne-Sa, god of lupinoids and of hunting, give us a sign, we beseech thee, that these dark times of starvation and hardship will come to an end. Show us your power, lord of the forest.”
A sign? thought Ketrin. What kind of sign could I ever give them? I can’t even blink!
But then there was a stirring in the thick, muggy air, and a breeze began to blow through the parched village, bringing a tiny relief from the stifling heat. The villagers all gasped in amazement. Surely this was the sign they had asked for.
Ketrin might have disagreed, except that the breeze also brought the hint of a familiar scent to his sensitive nostrils. There were lupinoids somewhere nearby! If he could only contact them, he might just have a chance of helping the villagers after all.
The breeze died down after a few moments, but the villagers continued to bow and chant before Ketrin for the rest of the day, while he cast his thoughts far and wide in the hope of contacting the lupinoids he had scented.
Once the sun went down and the temperature became more bearable, the villagers lined up to worship him. Shyly at first, then with growing fervour, the men and women began to caress his arms, chest and back. His erection was immediate, and it didn’t take long for one of the men to begin sucking him. Once again Ketrin’s body responded enthusiastically, and after the better part of an hour rewarded him with a blast of ecstasy that astonished him and almost suffocated his unsuspecting worshipper.
His next worshipper gently licked his penis clean before stroking it gently with her long, supple fingers. Within moments it was fully erect again, and she laid him down and lowered herself on top of him.
And so Ral-ne-Sa’s disciples worshipped Ketrin for half the night, and he could do nothing but drown in ecstasy, wishing all the time that his worshipper could be Sherinel.
Ketrin still felt guilty that the villagers were expending their precious energy in pleasuring him while he was able to offer nothing in return. The constant physical distractions also made it impossible to concentrate on trying to contact lupinoids. But by midnight they had exhausted themselves and retired. Ketrin spent the rest of the night scanning for lupinoid minds, but although they were more likely to be abroad at night there was no response.
Two days went by in a similar fashion. The villagers conserved their strength by day and spent less time bowing to Ketrin, but somehow managed to conjure up enough energy to make love to “Ral-ne-Sa” by night. After they finished with him each night Ketrin projected his thoughts as hard as he could, but still had no reply. It was disappointing, but he could not give up. He was certain that he had scented lupinoid the day he was brought to the village, and the scent had been fresh.
The next night the men set a fire before Ketrin, then bowed before him and sat around it. Ketrin could not help but be reminded of the fateful campfire in his old village all those moons ago. Once they were all settled the men drank to Lord Ral-ne-Sa’s health - there was no ale, so they had to settle for water - and took turns at pleasuring him while others told long and involved dirty jokes. Sometimes a joke would be picked up by one man after another, growing more elaborate and ridiculous in the telling. There was one in particular that lodged in Ketrin’s memory:
The Men of Third Hill present:
The Tale of Avo and Ivo
A Story of Enormous Length and Extreme Brevity
Skip to the rest of Ketrin Part Five
Avo had a terrible problem. His penis was much too big, and far too hard.
Oh, yes, I know most men can’t believe that could possibly be a problem, but believe me, for Avo it was. It stuck way out in front of him and just wouldn’t go down, no matter what he did. Everywhere he went people could tell he was coming because it would arrive well before he did. When he did go places he had to look way ahead of him to try and avoid banging it on trees or boulders, and if he turned around too fast it might well whack into something with agonising results. In a crowd it could easily poke some complete stranger in the buttocks, which caused him no end of embarrassment as you can imagine. When he lay down his penis stuck up like a tent pole, and if he slept outdoors he would often wake to find birds perched on it. And of course he couldn’t sleep on his stomach. To do that, he would have had to dig a big trench for it to fit into before he went to sleep, which just seemed like too much effort.
All this was upsetting enough, but the worst part was that Avo was a young man with healthy sexual appetites and no way to fulfil them. His balls were a perfectly normal size and positively bursting with seed, but the problem was figuring out how to make them burst. The length of his manhood made it impossible to get close to women, and there weren’t many who wanted a long distance relationship. He couldn’t even masturbate properly because he couldn’t reach the end of it.
To try and take his mind off his frustration he would sometimes play a little joke on other men. He would sneak up behind them while they were peeing, then crouch down and move forward, slipping the front end of his huge prick between their legs so they’d get a shock when they looked down and saw an enormous erection.
Now it just so happened that one of the men he tried this prank upon was Ivo, who also had a problem. When Ivo looked down and saw a thick erection between his legs he knew it couldn’t possibly belong to him, and so he grabbed it painfully and said, “Who are you, and why are you mocking my affliction?”
Ivo’s affliction was almost the opposite of Avo’s. He too had perfectly normal balls and they were all too willing to shoot their seed, but they couldn’t because he couldn’t get it to stand up. He wasn’t just impotent. With a bit of sympathetic magic involving sticks and clay the local healer-wizard could have fixed that, for most men. But Ivo’s penis wasn’t like other men’s. It didn’t have anything in it that could make it stand up. It was just a flat, hollow tube, good for making water and nothing else. He was able to pleasure himself slightly by stroking it, but he never felt anything like the rush of ecstasy that he had heard other men describe. And so when he saw Avo’s enormous manhood between his legs he was convinced that someone was deliberately taunting him over his problem, and he grabbed it angrily as you have just heard.
“Ow! Ow! OWWW!!! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” cried Avo. “It was only a joke. I really didn’t mean to offend you. Sir, would you please let go?”
Ivo released his grip on Avo’s glans, and Avo stepped back gratefully. Ivo turned to confront his tormentor, but when saw the full size of Avo’s manhood he almost fainted from jealousy.
“I don’t believe it,” he wailed. “How could the gods have given you that monster between your legs when I am cursed with this pathetic limp rag?”
“Now, wait a moment,” said Avo. “I know you probably don’t believe it, but having a huge penis is also a curse,” and he went on to describe all of the problems I told you about.
And then out of mutual sympathy, they went and got very drunk.
“I just wish I could get close enough to a girl to be intimate with her,” muttered Avo after two or three mugs of ale.
“ ’S ironic,” agreed Ivo, who had drunk a similar quantity. “I can get as close to women as I like, but once I get there I can’t get inside.”
“Well, here’s to the gods and their little jokes on mankind,” said Avo.
“You’ve just got to love ’em,” said Ivo - meaning, of course, in case they got angry and did something even worse.
“I’m pretty certain the gods meant us to meet each other,” said Avo. “Thing is, now that we have met, is there anything we can do to help each other?”
“Buggered if I know,” said Ivo.
It was just an accidental turn of phrase, but it gave Avo a sudden inspiration.
“You want to do what?” cried Ivo.
“I know,” said Avo. “I know it’s a strange idea, but if it works it might just give us both a chance at fulfilment.”
Avo’s plan was simplicity itself. positioning himself behind Ivo, he walked forward until the front of his penis entered Ivo’s bottom. For Ivo it was a strange but not entirely unpleasant experience, and he did his best to hold still while Avo continued to walk forward.
Just as Avo had suspected, his erection went straight through Ivo from the back to the front. After a few moments Ivo felt an unfamiliar stirring as the tip of Avo’s erection slid into the back of his hollow penis like a hand sliding into a glove.
By the time Avo was close enough to embrace Ivo his penis had completely filled Ivo’s. For the first time in his life Ivo felt the pleasure of having a stiff cock, and wasted no time squeezing and caressing his new toy. Of course Avo, whose cock was supplying the stiffness, was able to feel Ivo’s squeezes and caresses through the thin skin of Ivo’s hollow penis. Unbelievably, this caused his permanent erection to become even harder, and the harder it got the harder Ivo’s got - because of course it was the same hardness!
Avo caressed Ivo’s chest and stomach, while Ivo stroked his penis and Avo’s within it. It was a strange kind of lovemaking, but it worked for them. After a while Avo felt a burst of ecstasy and several pulsations sent seed racing down the length of his penis. Ivo’s orgasm occurred slightly later, but because his penis was so much shorter his own seed - pumped around the outside of Avo’s penis - reached the tip at the exact same moment as Avo’s, and between them they produced an impressive white fountain that splashed the ground several cubits away.
Laughing and gasping, the two men kissed. It seemed they had finally solved each other’s problems.
Well, for a long time they went around together like some bizarre quadruped, Ivo in front and Avo literally bringing up the rear, separating only when Avo wanted to piss or Ivo wanted to shit. People thought they were odd, but gradually came to tolerate their eccentricity.
Pleasuring each other was fun, but what both men really wanted was to make love to a woman. Since Ivo was the front man of the pair it fell to him to make the necessary approaches, while Avo whispered suggestions in his ear.
The problem was that most girls didn’t like the idea of having Avo looking over Ivo’s shoulder while they were trying to get intimate with Ivo. “Can’t your friend give us some privacy while we’re doing it?” they would say; or something similar but ruder. Of course, because of their unique penile arrangements the two men had to stay together to have any chance of success, but it was beginning to look as though they would never get any women to accept them as they were. If the worst came to the worst they might have to make do with pleasuring each other for the rest of their lives.
Eventually, though, they found an attractive and adventurous young woman called Uvi, who was intrigued rather than offended at the idea of making love to two men at once, and immediately suggested a secluded meadow where they could get together.
“Tonight,” she said with a wink, then turned and showed them a clean pair of heels - not to mention the rest of her legs and back.
The two men spent the day in a state of nervous anticipation. It would be the first time either of them had been with a woman, and they were both thrilled at the idea and terrified of doing something wrong.
As evening fell they made their way to the rendezvous. Avo was so excited his penis hardened almost painfully inside Ivo’s. Ivo responded by squeezing his penis until he almost had an orgasm, and his anus squeezed the middle of Avo’s erection tightly.
“Oww!!” Avo yelped. “ Be careful! You might damage it! It’s already had enough punishment from banging into trees and things.”
“Sorry,” said Ivo, “but it’s hard to control it. Anyway, I’m worried that if you get too big from excitement you might split mine open. It’s only made of thin skin, after all. We’re both just going to have to be very careful tonight.”
Finally they arrived at Uvi’s village just as night fell, and she led them to the meadow, swaying seductively as she walked and throwing them suggestive glances over her shoulder. It was all Ivo could do to prevent himself squeezing their joint erection until they both came prematurely. The fact that Avo’s penis kept throbbing expectantly inside his didn’t help.
“Well, here we are, boys,” said Uvi huskily. “It’s time to have fun.”
The two men decided that if they both lay on top of Uvi they might be too heavy for her, so they made love to her standing up. They both gasped with pleasure as their concentric penises slid into her, and they rocked back and forth while Uvi and Avo both caressed Ivo who was in the middle. Both men thought it was the most wonderful experience of their lives, and they never wanted it to end.
Now of course most men, impatient beings that they are, will come before the woman. But Avo and Ivo were both being extra-careful not to do anything that might do their unique manhoods any damage, and so they held back. As a result, Uvi found herself overtaken by pleasure twice in the course of the first hour, before either of the men had come once.
“Oh, my,” she sighed, “this is amazing. Are you sure the two of you wouldn’t like to change places for a while?”
Ivo, who had got into a regular rhythm with Avo, simply smiled and said, “I’m - afraid - that - ohhh! - wouldn’t - really - be - practical. It’s - a - long - ahhh! - story - but - maybe - nnngg! - we’ll - explain - some - ooooaaAAHHH!!! - day.”
Over the course of the next two hours they managed to give Uvi another five incredible orgasms, but amazingly they were somehow able to delay their own.
Finally, though, even they couldn’t hold back any longer, and they both felt the telltale stirrings that heralded a climactic surge of pleasure. Avo came first, screaming in an ecstasy so intense he was afraid it might kill him, and semen began rushing along his huge phallus toward Ivo’s. Then Ivo was also screaming as his inflamed scrotum also discharged its cargo into the space between Avo’s penis and his own.
Poor Uvi didn’t know what had hit her. The immensely powerful double ejaculation threw her off her feet and into a nearby hedge, where she nearly drowned in the rest of the semen.
Meanwhile, the two men had serious problems of their own. Avo had thrust so forcefully that Ivo’s hollow penis had split open, and Ivo’s anus had contracted so powerfully upon orgasm that it had cut Avo’s huge erection in two, leaving the front end lodged within Ivo’s body.
Well, all of their howls and screams soon brought a crowd running. They were torn between amusement and disgust at the sight of Uvi lying in a pool of sperm, and horrified at the men’s bloody genitalia. Both men babbled incoherently, trying desperately to staunch the flow of blood, while some villagers fetched the local healer-wizard, and Uvi continued to rant and rage about how they had humiliated her in front of the entire village. Between these outbursts the poor healer could scarcely make head or tail of what had happened, but he eventually came to the conclusion that the men’s genital injuries had resulted from some kind of weird sexual perversion.
Raising his arms above his head and his voice above the din, the wizard chanted:
“By the power of all the gods, let these two men’s genitalia be restored to normal!”
There was a brilliant flash of light, and a miracle occurred.
The broken rear end of Avo’s ruined penis healed, growing a normal glans and foreskin to replace the ones it had lost.
Meanwhile the broken-off front of Avo’s penis, which was still lodged inside Ivo’s body, absorbed the skin of his hollow penis, grew a new prostate and merged with his body, becoming his own.
The healer had prayed for their genitalia to be restored to normal, and that was exactly what had happened, even though neither of them had actually had normal genitalia before. But now Avo and Ivo each had an identical, perfectly normal, albeit rather large, penis. They were so overjoyed that they laughed and whooped danced around each other and embraced. Meanwhile Uvi shook her head in consternation and went home to take a long bath.
Well, from that time on Avo and Ivo were able to enjoy normal, fulfilling sex lives with the men and women of their choice. Their genital complications weren’t entirely cured, though. Because their penises were still effectively two halves of a single penis, neither of them could have an erection without the other, and whenever one of them came so did the other, no matter how far apart they were.
This naturally caused a few embarrassing situations at first, until they figured out what was happening and agreed to schedule their sexual activities so that neither of them would be caught ejaculating in public again.
As for Uvi, she became pregnant and bore a fine, healthy son whom she called Aivo. His fathers were immensely proud of their offspring. He was very dear to them - or at least, he would be after Uvi and her family had forced them to pay for his upbringing.
But be that as it may, both Avo and Ivo were relieved to discover that their son would never suffer from the kind of genital problems that had dogged them all their lives.
Both of his penises were perfectly normal.
Ketrin and Wild Lupinoids
Ketrin was amused by the story, even though it didn’t make much sense. But then, he supposed it wasn’t really meant to.
The men who had been worshipping him while the story was being told had an amazing sense of timing; somehow, they had managed to give him an orgasm whenever an orgasm was mentioned in the story. At the very end of the story he had had a long, slow and perfectly exquisite climax while his worshipper came into him, and as it reached its impossible peak Ketrin felt that he really was a god, for no mortal could ever feel such pleasure.
And then he realised he wasn’t only feeling his own ecstasy. Somewhere in the midst of all his sexual sensations he was also feeling a pair of lupinoid climaxes. Two males, and they couldn’t be too far away.
And he knew that they could feel his climax as well, and were thinking the lupinoid equivalent of: +What the FUCK was that?+
Two young males. They would be perfect, if only he could persuade them to help.
If he could...then maybe the villagers would not after all be unjustified in calling him the god of lupinoids.
After a little while another of the men rolled Ketrin on his back and began gently licking his penis, and once again Ketrin found himself wishing that it could have been Sherinel.
Sherinel and Dorriven
Sherinel’s wound had healed cleanly, although it still pained him somewhat, and once he was on his feet he had been set to work performing light work around the village, such as gardening, child minding, and mixing medicines for the village healer. Sherinel was pleased to feel useful again, especially since he received none of the physical and verbal abuse that had been his lot under Borvinn’s guardianship.
By night Sherinel continued to dream about Ketrin’s lupinoids. Although they had withdrawn from the village into the deeper forest to avoid Dorriven’s patrols, Sherinel was still able to receive clear images from them, and to warn them if any hunters were in their vicinity.
Dorriven was frustrated by his men’s inability to catch the lupinoids. On one occasion he told Sherinel, “I don’t understand it. Every time we seem to be getting close to them they’re gone. It’s almost as if somebody was telling them where we were.”
Sherinel felt a twinge at this, but merely said, “But how could that be possible? If, as you say, they’re only dumb animals...anyway, if they’re not bothering the village maybe it’s best not to bother them.”
Dorriven made a noncommittal sound and walked away.
Sherinel had been thinking about how it was possible for him to communicate with the lupinoids. More than anyone except Ketrin himself, he was acutely aware that they were more than just dumb animals. Ketrin had absorbed his lupinoid instincts and telepathy from his adopted mother’s milk, which suggested that all lupinoid cubs did the same.
Sherinel had not drunk lupinoid milk. But when he had been critically ill in the forest, Shadow had brought him water to drink, using the only available container - his own mouth. And of course Sherinel had had no choice but to ingest a little of Shadow’s saliva along with the water.
It seemed there was some substance in the lupinoids’ bodies, passed down from generation to generation in their milk. A human baby who drank a lupinoid’s milk would absorb the substance and acqure their abilities and instincts as Ketrin had. Sherinel had not drunk their milk, but if the substance was present throughout their entire bodies then Sherinel could have absorbed it from Shadow’s saliva. The amount had been small so its effect had been slow, but eventually he had begun to experience it.
Apparently the substance could only be passed on by lupinoids and not by humans who were affected by it, otherwise Sherinel would have absorbed it long ago from Ketrin’s saliva and semen.
It was true that the amount Sherinel had absorbed was small, but it seemed he had already acquired the full extent of their telepathic ability.
And if that was true, what other lupinoid instincts might he also acquire?
Sherinel sighed. If anyone could help him come to terms with what was happening to him it was Ketrin, and it might be several moons before he was able to set out and search for him.
Ketrin, Lupinoids and Villagers
Forging the Alliance
Ketrin - although exhausted from all of the orgasmic worship he had been receiving - had also been making contact with lupinoids.
The two young males Ketrin had contacted the previous night were on their way to Third Hill. It had taken Ketrin an enormous mental effort to convince them. It would have been so much easier if he had been mobile, since he could have sought out the lupinoids in person and applied a little persuasion - or to be honest, bullying. But since he could not, he had to use a good deal of mental pleading.
Arguing with the lupinoids gave him a throbbing headache, but in the end his human intelligence, combined with his knowledge of lupinoid psychology, finally enabled him to persuade them to overcome their natural reluctance and approach the human den where he was staying.
And so, just before dawn, the two newcomers slipped in through the village gate, past the sleeping guard whose dereliction of duty was understandable considering his state of malnutrition, and sat down beside Ketrin.
The older of the two sent him a thought that might well have been interpreted as: +This had better be worth it, paralysed two-leg!+
The younger simply grunted in agreement and settled with his head on his forepaws to see what the other two-legs would do when they woke up.
They did not have long to wait. As the sun’s rays stole over the village the people began to stir. And weak as they were, when they heard the gatekeeper’s cries of astonishment, they all came running.
Seated on either side of the supernaturally immobile Lord Ral-ne-Sa were two of the very beasts over which he held dominion. One had beautiful gold fur and brown stripes; the other was reddish-brown and striped in a grey that was not quite dark enough to be called black.
“O Ral-ne-Sa, lord of Lupinoids,” the village priest intoned, “our humble village is honoured by the presence of thy servants. We have prayed for a sign, and behold, you have given it to us.”
The lupinoids regarded all this with every appearance of quiet detachment. In fact they only did so because Ketrin was ordering them to ignore their instinct to flee, but instead to sit patiently until the time came to move.
At least they were able to move.
Meanwhile another of the villagers, emboldened by hunger, was arguing with the priest.
“All right, then, if it’s a sign, what does it mean?”
“The lupinoids are fierce hunters. Clearly Lord Ral-ne-Sa sends us these two to remind us to follow their example.”
Then Tharil the hunter joined the debate. “Isn’t that what we have been doing?” he demanded. “We have been searching for food for a whole moon now. There is no game to be had anywhere.”
“Well, if that’s the case,” volunteered Tolar, “How do you account for the fact that these two rather large beasts appear to have full bellies? Unless of course you believe that they are supernatural beings and have feasted upon the creatures that inhabit some heavenly plane, but they look pretty much like flesh and blood to me, and very substantial flesh and blood at that.”
One of the other men cried, “Good gods, you’re right. Look at the meat on those ribs. Come on, what are we waiting for?”
The sudden uproar startled the lupinoids, who immediately rose to their feet and began to snarl at the crowd. Once again Ketrin had to strain his power of telepathic persuasion to the limit.
His thoughts ran along the lines of: +Please don’t frighten the two-legs. Give them a moment to figure this out.+
Reluctantly the two closed their mouths and stepped back from the crowd but remained standing warily. The two-legs were still squabbling and making those annoying mouth-sounds, but they seemed to be coming to a decision.
“No, Kemmet,” said Tolar, “don’t be an idiot all your life! Their bellies are full because they’ve found game somewhere. They’ve succeeded where we have failed. If we eat them we’ll never know where they found it, but if we treat them nicely they may lead us to it. And I for one don’t care if it’s located in some mystic plane, or just in a hidden cave that we managed to overlook. So how about we try and make friends with these noble servants of the wise and compassionate Lord Ral-ne-Sa?”
Well, maybe not as wise as I’d always like to be, but maybe almost as compassionate as I should be, thought Ketrin. And at that, he seemed to hear a ripple of Maidenly laughter.
Tolar stepped forward and gingerly extended a hand to the gold lupinoid. The creature sniffed at it warily for a moment and then made his move.
The villagers gasped in alarm as the lupinoid leapt forward, knocked Tolar down and opened its jaws. Kemmet raised his knife to the beast, but Tharil restrained him. “Wait,” he insisted.
Then the villagers sighed with relief as the lupinoid merely licked Tolar’s face. Apparently satisfied, it allowed him to return to his feet. He was thankful that its companion did not see fit to repeat the gesture.
Then the two lupinoids spent some time familiarising themselves with the villagers, and once that was done Tolar began assembling his hunting party. He, Tharil and six of the other hunters were the only ones who retained enough strength to hunt. Tolar was acutely aware that this might be their last chance; if they could not find game on this hunt they would be too weak to carry on.
Ketrin was equally conscious of the responsibility that the villagers, however mistakenly, had laid upon him as their god and protector, and he was determined not to let them down.
+Take the men to the prey,+ Ketrin ordered them without words. +Take them straight there. Do not stop for anything else.+
+What about striagons?+ they asked.
That was a possibility that bothered Ketrin as well. If there was a place nearby that offered animals refuge from drought then any striagons in the vicinity would surely know of it already.
+The men will kill the striagons with their pointed sticks,+ Ketrin told them hopefully. +All you have to worry about is leading the men to the prey before their pack starves.+
+We’re ready,+ they told him.
The lupinoids gingerly allowed the hunters to pet them, and then set off out the gate with the hunters in tow.
+See you later, sitting two-leg+, they thought. +Hope the paralysis thing clears up.+
Ketrin couldn’t see the hunting party depart because of the crowd between him and them. Once they had disappeared down the hill the crowd turned and bowed to him one by one. Ketrin stared back, unable to offer them the slightest gesture of comfort. No longer strong enough to worship him with their bodies or even their hands, they dispersed to their houses, to take a few sips from their meagre water rations and lie down to wait for salvation... or death.
Ketrin the living statue was left alone in the centre of the village. The rising sun beat down with ever-increasing intensity upon the bare soil and his bare skin alike. He had never been so acutely aware of his helpless condition.
Mostly May - December 2003, but incorporating
some material from the original September 1999 draft
In Our Next Confusing Instalment...
Can Ketrin save the villagers? Can Sherinel save the lupinoids?
Does that missing crystal really have anything to do with the plot,
or is the author just making it up as he goes along?
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