The Pan Within

The Pan Within
by LoLL

Introduction & Disclaimer

Title: The Pan Within
Chapters: 1/1
Spoilers: Vaysh’s story in Book II of The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit
Rating: NC17 for graphic sex and angst)
Date Posted: June 2005

Author: LoLL
Contact: loll_3000@email.it, ladygaladriel.altervista.org
Beta, Muse, Chesnari: Bookofnicodemus

Disclaimers: The whole Wraeththu Universe belongs to Storm Constantine, to whom goes my eternal and incommensurable gratitude for creating the Wraeththu and let us write about them.

Bookofnicodemus. Because we both love them and we both love happy endings. And because she is a genius.

The Pan Within

The Pan Within
(The Waterboys – Album: This is the Sea, 1985)

Come with me
on a journey beneath the skin
Come with me
on a journey under the skin
We will look together
for the Pan within
Close your eyes
breathe slow we’ll begin
Close your eyes
breathe slow and we will begin
To look together
for the Pan within
swing your hips
loose your head, and let it spin
Swing your hips
loose you head, and let it spin
And we will look together
for the Pan within
Close your eyes
breathe slow and we will begin
Close your eyes
breathe slow and we will begin
To look together
for the Pan within
Put your face in my window
breathe a night full of treasures
The wind is delicious
sweet and wild with the promise of pleasure
The stars are alive
an d nights like these
Were born to be
sanctified by you and me
Lovers, thieves, fools and pretenders
and all we gotta do is surrender
Come with me
on a journey under the skin
Come with me

on a journey under the skin
And we will look together
for the Pan within
When to be with you
is not a sin
When to be with you, oh just to be with you
is not a sin
We will look together
for the Pan within

Everything began with a journey. A journey to the South of Megalithica where we were sent as a small representative of the Tigrons. In fact, Pellaz was close to delivering his first pearl; both Calanthe and the Tigrina saw no reason for him to embark on such a long and tiring trip, and the otherlanes were out of the question due to his condition. Poor Pellaz, too much love can sometimes be such a burden to deal with…

Our guests were the Kakakhaar, a powerful nomadic tribe famous both for their obscure magical practices and for the deadly beauty of their leader’s consort: Ulaume har Colurastes.

But long gone were the times when the Kakakhaar, represented by their mighty leader, Lianvis, were seen with fear and hate. Quite the opposite: they were still feared by a few, but respected by many.

It was whispered that their knowledge and magic had contributed not a little to the increasing power and magnificence of Immanion. And to the conception of Pellaz’s son.

***

My companion and escort was General Ashmael Aldebaran.

Yes, “that” Ashmael Aldebaran; the har who once had been my chesnari, my soulmate, my lover, my love; the har who had seen me die, who had held me, and cried for me. And who, after many, many years, had found me again. But the Vaysh he had loved was now dead. No more laughter, no more rides under the rain, no more nights of passionate and joyful aruna. No more dreams.

No, the har he encountered almost casually in a hall of Phaonica was a ghost, with dyed red hair and a heart of glass. It seemed that all the emotions had slipped out of this inconsistent body. In fact I was barren: inside and outside, in body and soul. Thiede had “accidentally” burned me, and so for me there were no chances to create life.

So, for years, and years and years, Ashmael and I kept ignoring each other, as if nothing had ever happened.

Of course, we two, stubborn creatures forgot to consider that when Pellaz har Aralis, Calanthe har Aralis, and, worst of all, Caeru har Aralis had an idea in mind, nobody and nothing could stop them from reaching their goal. And General Ashmael and myself were actually at the top of their list.

I looked at their pathetic attempts to make us reconcile with amused detachment and a shadow of melancholy. Sure, during the years, we had slowly gotten accustomed to each other; we could even stay in the same room and chat amiably on the most varying subjects, with the small exception of one single topic: the past. We were courteous and polite to each other, but that was where things ended. And I had never had the thinnest illusion that they could go any further. Because a barren har is worth little more than a dead har.

So, when Pellaz enthusiastically announced this journey and, surprise surprise, the name of my companion, I just shook my head and braced myself to deal with a long, boring trip that neither me nor Ashmael were even slightly happy to undertake. We were even forbidden to travel the desert via the otherlanes with some excuse or another. We laughed together at the not-even-mysterious implication of this project.

***

What we didn’t know was that the desert can throw at you the most powerful of spells.

I think we both tried hard to resist, at the beginning, ignoring the whispering of the warm wind and the smell of the purple, strange flowers we encountered along our path. It was as if they entered under our skin, heating our blood, tingling our nerves, making our bodies alive and craving. It was easier during the day because we were surrounded by our escort and the burning sun made everything blurred and distant, even our thoughts; but at night, when the first breeze caressed the landscape, playing strange games with the sand, I laid myself down, as far as I could from Ashmael, and my body was hot with the need of a touch. I needed aruna so badly that I ended up pleasuring myself, stifling my moans against my hand. Some mornings I woke up with my face wet with tears.

I began to understand what sort of damnation feybraiha must be…

And things weren’t any better for Ash: I knew him too well not to notice that the dark circles under his eyes and the bad temper were not due to exhaustion from the journey.

I tried hard to dismiss all those strange feelings, blaming the heat and different climate, but it was with a big amount of relief that we reached the sumptuous Kakkahaar camp.

We couldn’t imagine that that was just the beginning.


***

The so-called camp rose in the middle of a beautiful and luxuriant oasis; a wondrous palette of colours: tents as big as the main hall in Phaonica, made with the most precious of fabrics that the wind made constantly float, refined furniture in scented woods and gold, crystal lamps and marble tubs… I tried hard not to look like an amazed harling, and I had to elbow Ash to make him shut his gawping mouth.

When we were introduced to our guests, I understood that the extent of the legend was barely close to the reality: Ulaume was not just beautiful, he was magical. A bewitching sorcerer with alabaster skin and long hair of the changing colours of the desert at night, and the most frightening and intense eyes I’d ever seen. His perfect body was barely covered in pale red and orange linen, just a pair of loose soft pants that fell deliberately around his hips; a long tunic, fixed only with an emerald brooch over his chest that left his abdomen completely exposed. And we could see immediately that he was hosting. When he spoke to bid us welcome, his voice was feminine but deep, with a rich, warm tone. He emanated calm and self-confidence.

On the other hand, Lianvis was bright and lively, with sand-blond hair to his thighs and sun tanned skin decorated with elaborate tribal tattoos; his eyes were blue and piercing, but as darting and inquisitive as they were, they were not as disturbing as Ulaume’s.

***

They arranged us in two adjacent tents. Mine was as big as my personal room in Phaonica and even better furnished, with soft silky cushions all around, elaborate carpets, fine linen and veiled frames that sheltered from the desert sun but let the breeze in.

I was indulging myself in a long, restorative bath when I realized I was no longer alone. I opened my eyes and Ulaume was standing close to the bathtub, with a crystal bowl in his hand. Strangely, I felt neither ashamed or surprised by his presence. Even if he was Lianvis’ consort, everybody knew he had been sold as a slave. I simply thought he was sent there to see to his guest’s needs, so I let him help me exit the tub and envelope me in a soft towel. Then he helped me to lay down on a thin mattress and in that very moment I saw his otherwise impassive face grimace with pain and his hands went mechanically to his lower back.

So hosting, it seemed, was the same tiring shit for Tigrons and slaves, after all.

“Lianvis shouldn’t let you attend to such weighty tasks,” I couldn’t help but say rather blatantly. The only benefit I’d got from being barren was that I could act just like a barren har: bitter, sour, and acerbic.

Ulaume looked at me with a puzzled expression.

“Lianvis? He doesn’t even know I’m here! By his part I should rest in bed all day long and wait patiently for the pearl to be delivered. Bullshit,” he said, matching the not-so-regal statement with a dismissive gesture of his hand.

All of a sudden I found this har less frightening.

“So, may I ask you who sent you here, then?” He looked at me as if I was a very dense harling who needed to be taught very carefully about a difficult topic.

“Nobody sent me here. I came of my own will. You looked tired, I thought you would enjoy a restoring massage.”

“Yes, but,” I couldn’t help but insist, “in your… condition… you are close to delivery, aren’t you?” The mere word “delivery” caused me a pang of pain.

“Yes, but I cannot see the problem. In my tribe, hara travelled and worked until the very moment of the delivery.”

I nodded slightly; I found it rather barbaric but I was in no position to discuss Colurastes or Kakkahaar habits.

I closed my eyes while his expert hands worked over my sore muscles. I fell into a doze and the delicate scent of the sandalwood oil helped me to relax utterly. It was when I was close to falling asleep that I felt it: a fluttering in my thoughts, a sort of caress, full of sweetness, brief like a the beat of wings, but clear…

“I still love you…”

I sat up abruptly, my heart close to exploding. Even Ulaume was frozen, with his hands still over my heels. I looked at him, I didn’t dare to ask… Was it possible that I had lowered my shields to the point of allowing unexpected mind touches? Or was it just my imagination? A dream. Maybe…

“Don’t mind it, it’s the desert, it can play strange and wicked games with your mind. Relax now.”

I didn’t dare to ask about the meaning of his words; perhaps because I didn’t want to hear that it was just my imagination.
Ulaume helped me to lie down again and went on with his massage. I closed my eyes, trying to relax. But the words were sounding in my mind, over and over again… “I still love you”. Unconsciously, my head turned to the heavy curtain that divided my tent from Ashmael’s and I wondered if he was receiving a similar treatment.

Then, suddenly the massage came to a halt and I realized that Ulaume’s hands were lying motionless on my belly, spreading a wonderful, soothing sensation, but when I opened my eyes again, what I saw hit me like a deadly weapon in the very core of my being: there was concern in those enchanting eyes, and a sorrow so big that it perfectly matched my own.

“So it is true…” he murmured, looking at me. I felt unexpected tears burning my eyes, but I sent them back with a titanic effort.

“What do you mean?” I asked with more sharpness than I had intended. “What is true?” Of course I knew perfectly well what he was talking about.

“That you are dead inside.”

The words slapped me straight in the face and I sat up again, ready to send him to Hell but he prevented me, and took my hands in his own. And again that sorrowful countenance that made me want to cry…

“No, no, please… I meant no offense… please… I… I just sensed it as soon as our hands joined, this morning, but I hoped I was wrong.”

“Oh! So you thought it could be interesting to come and take a first hand look at the phenomenon!” I was almost screaming but I didn’t give a shit! I was so angry! How dare he… My shoulders slumped and I began to cry. And not a silent, dignified cry: I was actually sobbing and sniffing like a harling! In a way I’ve never done, even in my darkest moments. Ulaume sat down beside me and took me in his arms, rocking me and caressing my hair and my back. Nobody had ever cared for me so, even Pellaz…

When the sobs finally subsided, I dared to raise my head and look at him. He had the sweetest of looks now, and this almost made me cry anew. He took my wet face in his hands, and with his thumbs dried the tears from my cheeks.

“Why are you doing this to me?” I whispered.

He smiled at me and it was radiant. “Because I want to help you.”

I shook my head.

“No, you can’t, nobody can take it back.”

“Shhhh… I think we can. We can try, at least. But first you have to understand your true feelings.”

“My… my true feelings?” I wasn’t sure what was happening, I was beginning to feel dizzy.

Ulaume nodded toward Ashmael’s tent.

“Do you still love him?”

I opened my eyes wide and then burst into bitter laughter. “Ash? It is over! It has been for so many years.”

Ulaume didn’t smile at all but looked at me very seriously.

“Are you sure?”

And in that moment I realized that my mind hadn’t played any wicked games on me.

***

For five days we worked hard, making plans for defences, studying maps of the Tribes, reading reports, organizing meetings, gathering information, and during those five days not even the slightest hint of our conversation was made by Ulaume or by myself, to the point that I began to think it was all in my imagination. On the other hand, Ulaume played an active and very supportive role in political and administrative matters, and we realized very soon that he was anyything but a slave. He was a free har with a free mind, whose contributions and counsel were held in great esteem by Lianvis and the Shamans.

At night I lay awake, lulled by the wind, watching Ashmael’s shadow move beyond the dividing frame, never daring to trespass beyond the thin border. Sometimes, the wind carried melodies and tunes, sometimes whispers and muffled moans that I knew belonged to Ulaume and Lianvis: I’d seen them one night taking aruna under the moon: perfect, beautiful, sensual.

I began to have strange dreams.

I dreamt of our past. Of the time when we were happy and in love. But I dreamt also of what could have been our present days too, of us taking aruna under the moon and waking up in my bed in Phaonica, me curled up in Ash’s arms, both happy like mad because I was with pearl. They were just dreams, but they were affecting me so much that it became hard for me to even be in the same room with Ashmael. Of course, I didn’t say a word to him of what Ulaume had told me. I knew he would have laughed at me.

But sometimes our eyes met and his were sad and melancholic.

I began to crave the return to Immanion and to my usual life without dreams and without Ash.

On the fifth night Lianvis decided to celebrate our perfect collaboration with a party and a propitiatory rite.

At sunset, when I was beginning to prepare myself for the evening, Ulaume came to me again.

We drink cold-spiced tea and chatted about nothing. I asked him when he was going to deliver his pearl and his features softened as soon the matter shifted to that particular subject. He told me that there were only a few days left, and that he and Lianvis would have loved for Ash and myself to delay our departure until the pearl was hatched.

I was taken aback by the request, and I told him that I wasn’t sure that we could stay away for so long.

He didn’t press the matter and just squeezed my hand and asked me if he could help me to dress for the celebration and adorn my hair.

Of course I said yes.

He combed my tresses until they were shining, and fixed them to one side with a black orchid; I let him kohl my eyes and choose me a dress; an emerald green and violet silky tunic that left my shoulders and my back exposed. When I looked at the figure in the mirror, I was speechless. I was beautiful.

The party was a held at the suggestive Oasis’ borders, just where the desert began, and the dying sun made everything shine with gold and red.

I drank sheh and laughed and spoke with every har that came to me; I was definitiely and shamelessly flirting, and I didn’t mind because I’d never been so free and alive.

And all the time I felt the burn of Ashmael’s blue eyes upon me. A sensation that made me feel light-headed and languid.

In the end, he rose from his place at the left side of Lianvis and came to me, and without speaking caught my wrist and led me to the space where other hara where dancing. We danced forever; I could feel his hands moving slowly on my naked back and arms, his breath on my brow and our minds touched for a brief, intense moment. It was as if a small part of our past had been given back to us.

When the music was over, we came back to our guests; Ashmael sat beside me and put an arm around my waist. I was too overwhelmed to utter a single word; I just let my head rest on his shoulder while we watched the shaman perform the propiatory rite. When I turned to Ulaume, he was smiling at me. I knew he didn’t need me to give him any answer at all: he had probably always known. I still loved Ashmael. With all my being.

When we came back to our tents, after the celebration was over, Lianvis asked Ashmael for a word. He wished me good night and kissed my temple before turning away and disappearing in the dark behind Lianvis and his consort. I stood still for a long time, watching the empty darkness, with my heart close to exploding.

***

That night I woke up panting hard and drenched in sweat. I had had another one of “those” dreams, but this time was more intense, more real. I could even feel the touch of Ashmael’s hands all over my body, and his lips against my neck. I put a hand between my thighs and touched my soume-lam: it was moist and swollen with my desire.

I decided to go for a walk: I needed to put the turmoil that was my mind and my body in order. So I wore a night tunic and came out of my tent.

I don’t know how long I walked, I was completely lost in my thoughts and immersed in the sounds of the night. When I focused again, I realised I was close to the pavilions where we had had the party a few hours ago. I was ready to turn my steps back when I saw him.

He was standing outside the main pavilion, looking at the desert, his hands on his hips, his legs parted, in a typical military stance. His hair was blown by the wind and whipped his naked back. I stood dead in my tracks, my heart beating so hard I was sure he would hear it.

Slowly, he turned his head and I could see his profile against a whole, silver moon. I was sure he couldn’t have seen me, nor heard, but nonetheless he extended his hand to me, without looking at me, and called me to him without uttering a single word.

And I went.

I remember perfectly the softness of the sand under my feet while I was walking toward his stretched hand, and the scent of incense still lingering in the air. I took his hand and he pulled me against his body: one arm around my waist and his other hand spread over my cheek. I felt strangely calm and I didn’t lower my eyes when he looked straight at me. A second later we were attacking each other’s mouths with such a hungry fierceness that I wouldn’t be surprised to taste blood. It was not a sharing of breath: it was a kiss, a violent, passionate kiss where tongues battled and lips sucked and teeth bit. His hands were now ravaging my hair and the tunic was already torn from one side. I was scratching his back, asking for more, and I felt him pressing against me, hard, fully ouana.

I still love you.

It came like a mind touch, warm and bright. Desperate.

I stopped abruptly, pulling away from the kiss with a noisy “pop”. He tried to bring me back, he still had his eyes closed, but I caught him by his wrist.

“No more mind-bullshit, Ashmael. Speak it aloud.”

Yes, what I needed most was to hear the words in his very voice. To make them real. He did so without hesitation.

“I still love you, Vy. I’ve never stopped loving you. Never a single moment.”

I stared at him, we were both panting hard, our faces flushed and lips moist and swollen. But what I saw most was the unquestionable honesty of Ash’s words reflected in his eyes.

The stubborn energy that had sustained me for all those years seemed to dissolve in a moment; all of a sudden I felt weak and I fell on my knees, staring at nothing.

“Why…. why now, after so many years….” It was a question more to myself than to Ash; I couldn’t believe this was happening.

I heard the rustling of silk when he sat down in front of me and took my cold hands in his. And I still refused to look at him.

“Why? It’s not that you gave me much of a chance, Vy.” There was no accusation in his voice, he was just stating the truth.
“You were rather cold to me, you did everything to push me far away and you made it clear that you wanted nothing to do with me anymore.”

This was true but it hurt, nonetheless. Finally I found the strength to lift my face and look at him.

“I am barren, Ash! I was just trying to save myself from the obvious consequences.”

“Yes, but you cut me out, you took for granted that I’d have refused you! It was not true: I would have loved you anyway, if you had let me in…”

“At the beginning, maybe… but then? You have always craved harlings! Don’t you remember how many times we daydreamed, choosing names for our harlings? Making plans for our future, before…” Words died in my throat, suffocated by a silent cry. Ashmael took my face between his hands, I could see his eyes were gleaming but his voice, when he talked, was steady and quiet.

“Vaysh, the fact that during all these years I never bonded to anybody and I never produced harlings doesn’t tell you anything at all?”

I was ready to rebutt with one of my perfectly prefabricated answers when the deep meaning of his words hit me with all his self-evidence.

“No… I….” For once, I was left speechless. All those years lost in self pity and voluntary isolation and void of feeling had made me blind to the obvious: Ashmael and myself had never had a second chance because of ME! Because I was so conceited and full of self-loathing to realise what Ash’s feelings were.

And I was wrong… so fucking, stupidly wrong…

“You… you did it for me?” My voice was small like a harling’s, I was desperately trying not to burst into tears.

Ash smiled. How I had missed that smile, “my special smile” I used to call it.

“Of course! Who else?”

“And… Cobweb…?” I hadn’t forgot his long, distant relationship with the mystic har.

“Cobweb has been a good lover, and a wonderful counsellor and friend as well. We were good together because we both knew that our relationship would have lead to nothing: we both wanted someone we couldn’t have, but neither him nor myself were able to give in. He helped me a lot in my darkest moments.”

“Ash… I don’t know what to say, all this… it is really too much for me to handle.”

He took me in his arms again, carefully, like I was a frightened wounded animal. And, actually, I was. But I didn’t fight.

“Then say nothing. Let’s just have another chance. I think we deserve it.”

I held tight to his body, savouring his strength and drinking from it. I shivered slightly for the chill of the night. Then I lifted my head and we kissed again, a soft, sweet kiss, and this time I let him in and the sharing of breath became a sharing of souls. We let each other know the personal hell we had been through all those years, and we cried together while our minds projected pain and loneliness. And then we began to heal.

We took aruna under the desert moon. I let him part me from the rest of my tunic, and melted into his soft caresses. I was completely soume for him. I let him play with my body, not bothering to stifle my moans and my whispers. I watched him while he knelt between my thighs and kissed my soume-lam, with reverence; I never closed my eyes, not once, not when he entered me, not when our minds touched and his sensations were mine, nor when his movements became strong and powerful, and the world collapsed around us, exploding in a thunderstorm of stars and sensations.

And I kept my eyes open when, finally, I let go the words that for too long were burning in my throat.

“I still love you, Ash.”

We returned to the camp, walking slowly, clutching each other without speaking, savouring the intoxicating smell of aruna still lingering on our skin.

We went to my tent and took aruna again, this time burning all the energy left until we lay panting, drenched in sweat between the crumpled sheets.

It was at dawn, when Ash was resting with his head over my belly, distractedly rubbing the skin with his thumb, that I told him about Ulaume’s mysterious words.

He didn’t wince; instead, he lovingly kissed my navel and came close to me, supporting his head with his hand and looked me straight in the eyes.

“Yes, I know…”

I rose abruptly and stared at him.

“You… know?”

He put a hand on my thigh, trying to soothe me.

“Yes. Last night, when Lianvis asked me to follow him: they told me.”

“And when were you supposed to tell me?” I asked a bit sharply.

“By my part, I would never have, unless you were to raise the subject.” He stood and came to sit cross-legged in front of me.

“Vaysh, you most stubborn of hara, how many times have I got to tell you that I love you unconditionally? I would never press such a matter. Ulaume told me that he spoke to you…” he took my hand in his and brought them to his lips, kissing the palms and the vein at the wrist, making me shiver and waking my desire anew, “the final decision is upon you. And I’ll be with you, whatever you decide. I love you, Vy, never, ever forget it.”

I stared at him totally shocked; the extent of his words was overwhelming. Not only was he letting me be free to make the final decision, but he would also support me whatever the decision would be.

My shoulders slumped, and I suddenly felt all the weariness of those sleepless nights.

“I don’t know.” My gaze shifted from Ash’s beautiful face to our joined hands. “Everything has always been prearranged. Thiede made me barren for a reason I fear, and now we are going against his schemes…”
I shook my head nervously.

Ashmael embraced me and hid his face in my hair. With an arm he held me tight against his body while his free hand began to caress my skin with his fingertips: my neck, my shoulder, my waist, my hip. And then they rested over my belly.

“But maybe this was prearranged too…” He whispered brushing his lips against mine.

“Do you think…” Ash hushed me with an affectionate gesture and smiled.

“I truly don’t know. I’m just guessing. The only thing I know is that this may be your unique chance, Vaysh. Fuck Thiede, fuck the whole universe! The question is: are you ready for this?”

My voice trembled with emotion when I answered him

“You know I am. And you?”

He didn’t answer but kissed me hard and the image he projected into my mind was that of a perfect, beautiful harling: the same one I had dreamt about for many nights.

When the kiss ended I felt glowing on the inside.

“What are they going to do?” I asked with sudden curiosity.

“A Grissecon. Performed by Lianvis and Ulaume.”

“A Grissecon?” I was taken aback; I had imagined some rites performed by a shaman, or some magical potion. But not a Grissecon. “But… Ulaume is hosting. No, worse, he is close to delivery, it is dangerous!”

Ash put his finger to my lips, stopping the flood of words.

“This is just as it must be. The Grissecon will be twice as powerful because Ulaume is hosting.”

“Yes, but-”

“I know what you are thinking. These were my same fears. But they told me that their joined power is so strong that they can deal with the rite without any risk.”

I was shaking. I was suddenly realizing what we were engaging in.

“When?” My voice was barely a whisper.

“Three days from now. Time enough for purification, and before Ulaume’s delivery.”

***

I spent those three days in a sort of limbo. It came out that it would be a combined Grissecon: Lianvis and Ulaume would perform theirs in a sacred place, and in the presence of the Shamans; the essence of their union would have be mixed with a strong tasteful juice, a potion I had to drink to convey all the energies and magic toward my burned insides. Then, Ashmael and myself would perform our private Grissecon; and I would open up for him. I was frightened, no, terrified; I’d never performed Grissecon before. Once again it was Ash that helped me to relax and told me he would lead the ceremony.

For three days both Ash and myself submitted to the purification rites. We were confined to our separate tents, nourished with water and horrible berries that helped me to produce visualizations of the center of creation and healing energy. I was weak and numb and my mind began to wander to the past, before I became Wraeththu: my lonely and spoilt childhood in that immense house, my pony Seren, my first encounter with a Wraeththu, my inception, the horrible pain of althaia. The first time I took aruna, with Ashmael.

I laid motionless over silky linen, naked, thinking of that magical night, of how Ash had calmed me, and helped me to relax, of the way he had touched me, making me needy and aroused like never before, of how I’d felt while my body had changed under his touch, of the beautiful colours of his ouana-lim, of the very moment he had penetrated me, interlacing his fingers with mine while he moved with long, sensual strokes inside my body. Of how I had almost opened up for him, completely ignorant of what was going on, lost in the bliss of the moment. It was by a pure act of will on Ash’s part that we didn’t take that further step, the one that would have got me hosting. Later, while we laid exhausted and satisfied in the aftermath of aruna, Ash confessed that never before had he come so close to losing his control, and that I was a very special har. At the moment I had been flattered and I blessed Ash’s control, even if I didn’t have a clue about what he was talking of. Later, I began to curse it because with that I had lost my only chance to be a hostling.

On the third night, I registered some sort of noise outside my tent: a distant chant that rose in intensity with every passing second. I realized that it was the Grissecon, but I was too weak to rise and go see. I fell instead into a state of unconsciousness that, I was told, was the way my body was gathering the necessary strength. I don’t know how much time passed, if hours or seconds; I just remember somebody kneeling beside me, helping me to lift my head and giving me a hot spicy juice. In a far corner of my mind I knew exactly what it was, but I didn’t mind at all; I just prayed to the dehara that all this would work.

I was left alone again and moments later I began to regain consciousness, and I felt my body coming to life as well; my skin was hot and sensitive, my nipples hard and tingling. I rose slowly and went in front of the mirror: the har who was looking back at me just distantly resembled the aloof, icy, bitter Vaysh. This one was a sensuous and erotic vision, with wide pupils and ruffled red hair. I stretched like a cat, savouring the perfect elasticity of my muscles, and then I caressed my belly, visualizing without effort the chamber of creation. In a trance state, I walked to the heavy curtain that worked like a partition between Ash’s tent and mine and, for the first time, I crossed it.

The space I entered was as big as mine but with completely different colours, and was feebly lighted with scented candles set in a deliberate fashion; soft cushions were scattered everywhere and, in the core of the tent, lay Ashmael, with an arm bent under his head and a languid stare painted over his face: a wondrous vision of gold hair and creamy skin, glistening with oil. His ouana-lim was ready for me, vibrant with blue and gold. I felt my soume-lam swelling, pulsating with desire.

Come to me, my love. The mind touch was warm and deep.

I closed the distance between us and came to stand in front of him. I let my eyes wander for a while over his perfect body and then I took his extended hand and he drove me to straddle him; then, he came to a sitting position, with his hands on my hips, and looked at me from below, his eyes beaming, full of love and happiness. I began to shiver a little and Ash moved his hand to my back, stroking up and down, soothing my muscles.

Touch me…

He took a nipple between his lips and began to suck it slowly, nibbling the hard flesh and bathing it with the tip of his tongue; my head fell back while, with my eyes still closed, I felt the flood of sensation radiating through my whole being. I could hear my breath growing faster and ragged, and slowly I lowered myself onto him, following the gentle guidance of his hands on my waist, until I felt him completely buried inside of me. I moaned aloud when he began to rock, pushing deeper inside, and when we joined our lips for the sharing of breath I let go completely, giving my body the whole control while my mind opened to him. The colours changed and we were suddenly in the middle of the desert, in the same place we took aruna the first time. Our wills were working together in the process of healing my body and my soul. I could feel Ash’s wet skin under my fingers, his muffled cries against my shoulder and then, when I thought I was close to passing away for the inte nsity of the sensations, I felt it, a gentle nudge from the inside. My eyes opened wide and I clutched his shoulders, calling his name, I don’t know if I did it aloud or just with my mind. I was scared to death and, at the same time, I was excited for what was going to happen. Ash touched my mind again, projecting wonderful pictures of blooming flowers.
Just open up to me, my love.

And I did. I let the seal open and when I felt the tendril of his ouana-lim biting the inner nerve inside of me, exploding, filling me with his aren, a scream of release, pain and long-hidden fear broke through the night. The last thing I remember is that when I arched my body one final time, shuddering for the intensity of my release, my head fell back and I saw that the sky was purple and the moon was already fading.

I knew that a new life had been created.

***

I was woken with a soft kiss upon my neck. I felt Ash’s body spooning protectively against mine, his hand rubbing my stomach. When I finally opened my eyes I realized that the sun was high in the sky.

“God morning, my love, and congratulations: we are going to be parents!” He murmured with a still sleepy voice.

I smiled, savouring the sweet meaning of those words and the warmness radiating from his hand. I intertwined our fingers and closed my eyes again, trying to catch few more moments of that perfect blissful intimacy.

“It seems so. Ash?”

“Mmh?”

“May I ask from you an enormous pleasure?”

“Again?” He joked. I pinched his arm making him jump.

“Ow! Ok, go on.”

I shifted closer to his body.

“When we go back to Immanion, do you think we can keep this news just to us? Just for a while, I don’t want to-“

“Yes! Of course we will! The last thing I want is the Trinity throwing parties and fussing around you like a bunch of old nannies.”

I burst into sudden laughter. The sound of my own laugh was still unfamiliar to me but I hoped I would get accustomed to it very soon.

***

Later that day, Ulaume delivered his pearl.

I must admit that while I was helping him go through all that pain, dampening his sweating body and helping him to push, I wondered if I was really ready for all that; but when I saw his exhausted face radiant with an indescribable happiness the very moment Lianvis put the pearl on his belly, it made me realize that I’d have endured all the pain of the Universe as long as I had Ash at my side and could one day hold my harling in my arms.

We left the camp the day after. Immanion needed us back and due to my condition we would have to cross the sea by ship. It was a sweet and touching farewell. I kissed Ulaume on his brow and made him promise that they would come to Immanion for the time of my delivery. He was still weak from the long labour but nodded enthusiastically. Looking at him, so beautiful, serene and happy with his pearl nested safely in his arms, I wondered how I could have feared such a wonderful creature.

The trip back to Immanion lasted two weeks, one of which spent on a fast ship called the Seastar, nursing poor Ash who seemed to suffer from seasickness. By my part, I felt wonderful and the night before we arrived to Phaonica I felt it: a hard swelling in my lower stomach. I ran into the bathroom where Ash was taking an energizing bath after seven days of retching his soul out, and jumped into the tub, dressing gown and all, and without uttering a word I took his hand and pressed it against my belly. The look in his eyes spoke volumes, and I can still see the first tear running down his cheek, dying on his lips.

Four days later, Pellaz’s pearl hatched and an incredibly beautiful harling made his appearance. He had silky black hair, violet eyes, and the most perfect skin ever seen.

***

My pearl hatched this morning, after the two most beautiful, intense, happy months of my entire life. It began to become brittle in the first light of the dawn, between the shield of our naked bodies. I felt it immediately, an almost imperceptible shift against my skin, and Ash felt it too because we opened our eyes at the same time and in a beat of lashes we were sitting up in the bed, looking, astonished, at the miracle that was happening. After half an hour we were both crying and laughing, holding the most precious gift I could have hoped for: a perfect miniaturized version of Ashmael, with golden-blond hair, blue eyes and the lungs of an opera singer. A spray of freckles over his perfect tiny nose was the clear demonstration that he was my son, as well.

We called him Lyrian, like the beautiful purple flowers of the desert.

In a few moments this room will be full of hara but, once again, I’ve asked Ash to delay the announcement for a few hours. I know things will get hectic now, since my son was conceived under too extraordinary circumstances to be considered a common harling. But for a little while, I want to enjoy all these wonderful moments only with my chesnari. And I felt the pressing need to write this magical story down. Because one day, maybe my little harling will need a wonderful tale to believe in. A tale, with a happy ending.

The End

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1 Comment

  1. April 13, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    […] You can consider The Pan Within as a sort of sequel of this […]


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