Talla's Temple Ch. 09byxtorch©
Talla had desperately wanted to be left alone for a while to ponder all of the things that Shanata had dumped in to her brain, but that was not to be. As she attempted to leave Endowment Hall, she spotted Lara, bubbling with excitement, returning with a clutch of women in white and yellow outfits.
"Talla!" she shouted and starting running towards her.
"Lara," Talla called back. Lara was so happy that, even in her current distracted state, Talla couldn't help sharing the other's joy.
"I did it," Lara whispered as she took Talla's hands. "I did it."
"How was it?" Talla asked. She wasn't sure how much she wanted to tell of her night with Zhair'lo, but she definitely wanted to hear about Lara's experience.
"Just amazing," Lara said quietly, her eyes still alight. "When he gets inside you and you can feel how turned on he is."
Lara closed her eyes reverently as Talla nodded in agreement.
"And then he just starts swelling up inside," Lara said, clenching her fists in memory. "And you know he's just going to burst any second. And then ... oh ... it's just pulsing and pulsing away, shaking your whole body."
Talla was stymied. That was it? That was Lara's experience? Was she leaving something out? Talla tried to decide how to approach the issue.
"Were you scared at all?" Talla asked.
"Huh? Oh, nervous at first. But I got over it," Lara replied. "I wish I'd been able to talk to you this morning. I'd have been a lot less nervous."
"Yeah, sorry. I'm assigned to the children's dorms."
Lara, still giddy, accepted this without comment.
"So," Talla probed gently, "could you feel what he was feeling?"
Or think what he was thinking? Talla was afraid to ask. It seemed like far too important a thing to leave out. What did it mean if she felt things that others didn't? She was already different enough, what with her quadruple upgrade. She didn't feel the need to stand out more.
"Um, no," Lara scanned the night sky thoughtfully. "I could feel how bad he wanted me. That's about it."
She thought about it a moment more and added, quietly but with obvious delight, "We did it twice."
Talla smiled to cover the calculating going on in her head. The experience she had been through with Zhair'lo was not the same that Lara had had with --
"What was his name?"
"Uh, Tino, I think? Something like that."
- was not the same that Lara had had with someone probably named Tino. Talla and Zhair'lo had been very nearly able to converse inside the Mesh. From the sounds of it, Lara's most invasive experience was that of having her vagina penetrated. With Zhair'lo, it had been so much more than that.
"Congratulations," Talla said.
"Thanks," Lara said. "Now when and where do I get my half skirt?"
"Um ... this way. Let's get a drink."
Zhair'lo squinted his way down the stairs to breakfast. At least the cook and his assistant had serious-sized meals ready. Farm hands weren't small people given to light meals in the first place. A heavy night like that only made it worse. Having been drilled in his mattress repeatedly by Natta, Zhair'lo was prepared to join them in consuming copious amounts of whatever the hell was available.
Give Natta credit: she'd been thorough. He hadn't even been able to say goodbye.
"Heard you had company last night", Kurran said as he pulled out a chair across the table. "Two nights in a row a bit much?"
"And the upgrade the night before."
"And another 'un tonight."
Kurran was making fun of him now.
"Wish I had your problems."
Zhair'lo smiled. There was nothing to do but smile.
Truth be told, he was feeling a lot less nervous than he had the day before. He was content and confident that things would work out, somehow or other. The Temple women knew what they were doing, after all. They wouldn't allow a repeat of that horrendous upgrade, would they? Of course not.
Tilgan had joined Kurran.
"And how was that little vixen?" he asked
"She was fine," Kurran answered, knowing very well that the question wasn't for him, "but I wouldn't call her little. She was actually -."
"Jackass," Tilgan remarked, then turned his attention to Zhair'lo. "Hot to trot? Good to go?"
Zhair'lo nodded, not entirely sure it was appropriate to compare a girl with a horse.
"She had that look to her," Tilgan said, analytically. "Despite the long skirt, she just had that look."
Zhair'lo was a bit too embarrassed to speak.
"How many times'd you do her?"
A direct question. He had to answer, no matter his shyness.
"Three," he volunteered quietly. "Well, four. Kinda."
He supposed it depended on the definition of 'do'.
Tilgan and Kurran shared a knowing look.
"The tits on you," Tilgan snorted.
"To be that young again, huh?" Kurran agreed. "Four times in a night."
Tilgan shook his head, saying, "Busy little boy."
Having had their fun, their talk devolved in to work related banter which gave Zhair'lo some time to think.
Natta had left after he had fallen asleep. At least, he was pretty sure that was what had happened. He couldn't remember anything after their last orgasm. Was it possible that he had seen her leave and forgotten? No. Not likely.
There was no question that his encounter with Natta was much more physical, more energetic, than it had been with Talla. With Talla, he'd been so stunned by their mental merging that the two of them had lain there -- apparently for hours -- afterwards.
But which one was normal? He had to ask someone and he couldn't see asking Kurran, especially while Tilgan was there.
Oh, how he wanted to talk to Plin.
Talla had arrived at the dorm shortly after sunrise. As her duties involved food preparation for five hundred children, it was necessary to be there bright and early.
She didn't consider herself an expert in the kitchen, having only learned a bit of the cooking arts while living in the older girls' dorm after she turned twelve. Making pancakes, however, was not particularly hard. Milk, flour and sugar were thrown in to a bowl and mixed. How complicated was that?
The food tasted bland. She'd noticed that the day before and thought it might be characteristic of the meals that day. But no, the food still smelled wrong. Something was missing from it. She supposed that it was children's food, so what could one expect? Perhaps children didn't like spicy food.
That smell evoked nostalgia, though, as it steamed off the grill. She could remember eating food like this a long, long time ago. Everything she'd eaten -- inside the Temple and in the older girls' dormitory -- had tasted spicier than this.
She looked at the children -- boys and girls -- as they lined up to get their breakfasts. She'd been like that once, eating bland food and walking around totally ignorant of the world around her. How wise she felt now, by comparison.
Talla shrugged and went back to flipping pancakes.
Zhair'lo was jogging.
He calculated, based on where he last thought Plin was working, that he could reach Plin in about a third of an hour. And he had to see Plin.
So as soon as the heat bell had gone off, he waved to Kurran and started off. The Temple had finally decided that the afternoon heat warranted a midday nap. The unusual sounding gong was loud enough to be heard by most of the population but was repeated from watchtowers at the three corners of the town regardless. The break the gong gave the citizens of Gern was never less than hour and it was seldom more. It was a chance for everyone to get out of the heat for a while.
Zhair'lo had no interest in napping.
The heat was brutal and running in it would only make it worse, but he had to know what was going to happen tonight. He had to know if he was likely to hurt someone else and there were few people he trusted enough to ask. Plin was one of those people. Marek was the other, but Marek was months younger.
If he could really make it in twenty minutes, that would leave him just enough time to talk before he had to bolt right back. It wouldn't make the afternoon easy, nor the upgrade, but as long as he didn't do it every day ...
He was jogging through empty streets, letting them go by in a heat exhausted blur. It appeared that nearly everyone had decided to take advantage of the heat bell. He imagined that the only people on duty right now would be the guards at the Temple gates.
He hoped that finding Plin would be easy. While Zhair'lo had been hopping around from one vocation to another, Plin was fairly well set as a baker's boy. It made it very likely that Plin hadn't gone anywhere. He would be living and working in the same place that Zhair'lo had last seen him. At least, he hoped so, otherwise this whole trip would be pointless.
Finally. Past the dormitories to the only buildings in the town with people crazy enough to produce more heat.
Bakers didn't sleep inside during the heat bell. That would have required an insanity past their current level of running ovens on the same day people were passing out from heat stroke in the shade. No. Bakers strung hammocks up from pillars and awning posts and took their naps outside, away from their ovens.
His only trouble now, besides a desperate need for air and water, was finding where Plin had strung up his hammock. He counted on the bakers being sound sleepers. None of them noticed him jogging by on his quest.
Around a corner in to the next block. At least the bakers' building in this sector were all grouped together. Now where in the gods' names was -
He turned. There he was, still wearing an apron with a cloth in his hands.
"Plin," he panted, out of breath.
"Going out for a run?" Plin asked, incredulous. "What kind of cunt do you think you are?"
Zhair'lo shook it off.
"Had to -- had to talk -- to you," Zhair'lo stammered to his friend.
"'bout what?" Plin wondered. "What could be worth killing yourself like this?"
Zhair'lo's heart was pounding but his breathing was returning to normal.
"I did an Upgrade," Zhair'lo began explaining.
"Good for you ...?"
"It didn't go right," Zhair'lo clarified. "At least I don't think it did."
"Did you come all over the Source?"
"No!" Zhair'lo exclaimed indignantly.
"So you hit the target and ...?"
"Can I sit down somewhere?"
Plin gestured around a corner, away from the sleeping bakers. There were tables and chairs there, protected from the sunlight by an awning. It was a probably a place for the bakers to eat.
"Alright," Plin said as waved Zhair'lo in to chair. "Gimme details."
The assignment card that M'lis had brought back to Talla only had one word on it.
"Primer?" Talla asked.
"What's that?" she asked the older girl.
"You don't know what a Primer is?" M'lis asked, surprised.
"I joined two weeks ago," Talla pointed out.
"Oh," M'lis said, eyeing Talla's mini-skirt. "Accidental double upgrade?"
Talla found it comforting that she could occasionally run in to people who hadn't heard her story through rumour and gossip.
"Okay, then," M'lis explained. "Do you remember when your Conduit came in to the Chamber?"
"He came from behind me - "
"But you remember, right?", M'lis cut her off.
"Did you notice that he was ready?"
"Ready?" Talla wondered.
"Erect," M'lis clarified bluntly.
Talla tried to think back. She'd watched Atreya disrobe Zhair'lo. She'd seen him get up on top of her. Now that she thought about it, yes, she had caught a glimpse.
"Yes," she told M'lis. "He was ready right away."
"Okay," the more experienced girl went on. "That's because there's a room between the Chamber and the room where the Conduits all wait in a group."
Talla nodded, waiting for M'lis to continue.
"And there are two girls in that room - "
Talla's eyes opened wide.
"- called 'Primers'."
"Oh," Talla replied quietly to this revelation. She scanned the sky as she thought about that. "So my job is to get someone -- the Conduit -- ready?"
"Yes," M'lis said with a smile, glad to have communicated her point. "I read somewhere that it was originally just a place where we washed the men. I mean, the Chamber is a sacred place and men are -- well -- dirty. What do you expect? They're men."
"So we wash them?"
"Yeah," M'lis said. "But it turns out that the more, um, enthusiastic you are about washing them, the better the upgrade works. So that's part of it now."
Talla mulled that over for a bit.
"Would you mind watching the door?" M'lis asked, already on her next task. "We're expecting the fruit cart any time now and I have to check on the linens."
Plin let out a heavy sigh.
"I don't know, Zhai," he said. "I've done two upgrades. They went nothing like that. I came on the one girl's face and another one's butt. Seemed fine. No one cried or screamed."
Zhair'lo was disappointed. He had high expectations of Plin, being the eldest of the trio.
"Do you know if she's okay? Have you seen her since?" Plin asked.
"Yeah, she came by two nights ago."
"She picked you for her first, anyway?" Plin asked.
"Yeah." Her first. He hadn't thought to think of himself that way.
"Can't have been that bad, then," Plin offered by way of consolation.
Zhair'lo sighed. "They want me to do another one tonight. What if it happens again?"
Plin tilted his head from one side to the other, considering possibilities.
"Maybe it's got nothing to do with you. Ever consider that?"
No. He, in fact, hadn't.
"Look," Plin said as he leaned in close. "You do your job and you can't go wrong. Right?"
"I just want to know what's normal."
Plin considered that a moment.
"I've only done the two," Plin said as he waved a hand in surrender. "And I don't think they let men watch."
"They don't," Zhair'lo said. Another image, burned in to his brain, from when he had looked up in to the audience. "At least not for mine. There were lots of women watching, but no men."
"You could see them? I remember it being pretty dark."
"Yeah," Zhair'lo said. "While I was full of whatever that magic is, everything was wound up really hard. I could see and hear and smell ..."
"Yeah, anyway," Plin interrupted. "Men only get to see the upgrades they do. I can't tell you what's normal. Maybe find some guy that's done more."
Zhair'lo leaned his head back and stared up at the awning. He knew he was running out of time.
"How many girls have you had?"
"Huh? Lots ... I dunno ... maybe fifty or so."
"When you're ... um ..."
"Yeah," Zhair'lo confirmed. "Can you see inside ... I mean, can you hear what they're thinking?"
Plin's eyes bugged out.
"Hear what they're thinking?" Plin asked. "What in the nine hells are you talking about?"
"With her. With Talla," Zhair'lo clarified. "I could hear her inside my head. I could talk to her. It wasn't the same last night with Natta."
"Sure you weren't just a little light headed?" Plin asked. "Had ya been running around in the heat like an idiot?"
"No. I'm sure. I could see from her eyes and hear her speaking inside my head."
Plin shook his head.
"Never seen nothing like that," he told Zhair'lo.
"Gods damn it."
"You could just ask one of the women tonight. Before the upgrade. They always brief you."
Zhair'lo winced. He really didn't want to let that out of the bag. What if it wasn't normal? What would that lead to? More impersonal doctors examining his testicles, that's what. Differences were not a good thing. If you wanted to be different, then you did your job better than anybody else. Otherwise, you went with the flow.
"How come you never told me about any of this?" Zhair'lo asked.
"Any of what?" Plin asked.
"Upgrades. Sex. Any of it."
"I tried," Plin said, holding his hands out, palms up. "You wouldn't listen. You didn't care. I was actually pretty angry at first."
"Seriously," Plin continued, lowering his eyebrows. "Go find Marek some time and try to tell him. See how pissed off you get."
That was odd. Zhair'lo couldn't remember Plin ever raising the subject. He was sure that he would have remembered.
"You gotta head back, eh?" Plin prompted with concern in his voice. There was work to do and he wouldn't be a good friend if he let Zhair'lo forget.
Zhair'lo nodded. The run back was going to be a lot harder -- not just because of the heat, but also the lack of motivation.
"I just wish I could know what the hell is going to happen tonight."
"You and me both," Plin said. "Just do as you're told. I'm sure it'll work out."
An axiom they had learned from birth. A boy couldn't help recite it in situations like these.
There being no time like the present, he made off, hoping to hit the same pace he'd had on the way in. So it was back around the corner, past the sleeping bakers. Back through the dormitories and -
He skidded to a halt, cramping his legs.
There she was, standing by a horse drawn cart loaded with boxes of fruit. She was a good distance away and she was wearing a skirt much shorter than the one in which he had last seen her. There was no doubt in his mind, however, that he was looking at Talla. She held a wooden board in her hand and was making marks on it as several men unloaded the boxes and brought them in to the dormitory.
He approached cautiously. There was nothing really wrong with him being here, was there? He'd just come to see his friend. He was an adult. He could do that if he wanted. But talking to Talla. Was that okay? Could he catch her eye?
The street was empty save the horse cart and the men unloading it. He was easy to see, jogging along, sticking to the walls of the dormitory opposite. Would she look up? He was close enough to hear her voice.
"We only need ten boxes," she was telling one of the carters. "The rest must be for number four up the hill."
It was as she turned to point up the street that her gaze passed over him. Her eyes only paused for a moment, but he knew that she'd seen him. She handed the wooden board back to the carters as his comrades climbed back aboard and he spurred the horses onward. Zhair'lo continued walking down the street toward Talla, who stood there pretending not to see him until the cart was out of sight.
Then her eyes locked on him.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, a flushed look of panic in her eyes.
"Came to see Plin," he said, still walking. "Saw you."
He could see her chest rising and falling rapidly. There was no question in his mind what that meant. He continued to approach.
She spared two glances, up and down the street, before she grabbed him by his shirt collar and pulled him in to a little alcove around the doorway. They were out of sight of most of the street there. It would be safe, if only for a moment.
And they had to hide. She knew that she wasn't supposed to Serve without being assigned. There were rules about that. Very specific rules.
She didn't care, though. She had Zhair'lo. She understood, from the way things worked, that the rest of her life was at the mercy of the Temple. She got to choose her first Conduit. She got to choose the one who took her virginity. But that was it. The rest was out of her hands.
Unless Zhair'lo walked right up to her out of nowhere.
Lips met, rashly, without dignity or style. Each knew that time was limited. They could not possibly mesh. There was nowhere to go anyway. Should they do it on the street?
Zhair'lo started to feel a tingling sensation, radiating up from his groin. Even with the clothing separating them, he could already get a sense of her. He could feel her arousal and, as if shouting from a great distance over a roaring wind, he could hear her voice. It was calling out, "Bad idea, bad idea. Don't stop. Bad idea, bad idea."