tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Maid for Timon

A Maid for Timon

byTarnishedPenny©

This is my entry for the Summer Lovin' contest.

Thanks for your interest!
+


"Have you decided on your mating gift yet, Timon?"

The young man looked at Ranin, his cousin and best friend.

"I have been thinking of my grandfather's knife," he said, stepping around a puddle in their path.

"Will your father permit it? The knife has been in your family for generations -- no better bronze can be found anywhere."

"I have not yet raised it with him," the boy said. Then, musing, "I think he might, if it would win me a 'maid's favours. How about you? You are of age now."

"My uncle said he would give me his gold locket and chain. 'Tis said to have come all the way from Orsun itself.

"That would make it very old," Timon said, surprised. "Orson has been deserted for hundreds of years."

"Old enough, I suppose. Hopefully pretty enough to please my 'maid."

Timon snickered. " Your 'maid? As if you have one in mind!"

Ranin flushed. "Fine. Laugh if you will. I still hope that it -- and I -- will please one of them."

Timon laid his hand on his friend's shoulder. "I apologize, Ranin. 'Tis something too serious to mock you over." He smiled. "After all, with luck, both of us will be fathers two years hence."

Ranin smiled thinly, then scowled. "Well, you certainly, Timon. You swim like a 'cuda, you do. Surely one of them will slow down for you." Ranin sighed. "There are times I think I might as well sink to the bottom and run."

Timon grinned. "You're not so bad in a race, Ranin. You've beaten half the boys in this village."

"The slow ones. It doesn't matter how many times I can beat a sea cow. I have to beat the faster ones."

"It's true," his friend reassured him, "that speed gets a 'maid's attention, but there's more to it than just that. Being able to battle the rollers counts -- and you're as strong as any at that. You've a handsome face, too. Besides, I've seen your uncle's bauble. It should catch the eye of any 'maid."

The two continued walking the seapath leading to the village. Ahead of them lay the 60 or so buildings that comprised their world. The path leading to the outside was less traveled of late, for there was little enough there to be found these days. More and more villages were found empty when village boats called and Inland was increasingly sere and forsaken.

Threading their way through beached boats and nets hung to dry, the two headed for the dining hall. Behind them, the other young men of the outport followed, stripping seawater from their skins, shaking wet hair like tall dogs. A few combed thin beards with their fingers. The wind changed and brought the smell of a fish stew. Old Mardre was Cook this week, the two remembered, and sped up in anticipation. Madre's stews were worth hurrying for.

"When will you ask your father about the knife?" Ranin asked.

"After the race tomorrow, I think. If I place well in that, he should be more inclined to help. It's not as if it's a gamble, in any case. If no 'maid chooses me, he'll get it back."

"Like that's going to happen! You're the fastest swimmer anyone knows, Timon. You're sure to find favour with one of them! And that means a boychild year-next for your father to teach to sail. How could he possibly refuse?"

"Or it could mean a girlchild he never sees."

Ranin became silent at that possibility and said nothing as they entered the dining hall. When all were seated, the Eldest took his place at the head table and led the men in prayer. Timon's mind wandered as the old man droned on, the usual supplication to the Goddess for plentiful catches, calm weather and, above all, fertility at the summer festival.

It was no secret that fewer and fewer 'maids were appearing at each passing festival. The Elders spoke of a time long-gone when Festival beaches were filled with couples, but few of the younger villagers really believed their tales. Their existence was filled with fishing and the male society of the village. Many 'maids on the beach was a fantasy, fierce competition the norm. Only the fastest and the strongest could hope to win a 'maid's favours.

The Elder finished his prayer and all wordlessly began shovelling the stew into their mouths. Food was not scarce, but good food - well-prepared food, food beyond the usual blandness of root vegetables and dried fish -- that was scarce enough. One might say that manners suffered; equally, one could say that enthusiasm reigned. Hot beer brought warmth to those boys still chilled from their swim.

Following the meal, the two boys washed and stacked their dishes, complemented the cookteam and then separated. Ranin was to help his father mend nets that evening. Timon had intended to check the calking on his father's boat, but on his way detoured to the village shrine and prayed for success in the upcoming race, leaving a scarce copper as an offering as he left the building.

Before any went to bed, as was normal in the summer season, they checked the alignment of the 'Maid Star and the Red Planet, for the evening in which the two kissed signalled the beginning of the summer festival. The two were close, but still separated.

The next day was clear, a good omen the Elders said. The youth of the village -- and some of the mature men who still felt they might be lucky - paraded before the assembled villagers. The Eldest offered a prayer for them, then called them in towards him for advice, a custom long established. That the words of advice were unchanging from year to year mattered little, for it was a formal step towards perhaps being able to mate.

The circle of fishermen gathered around the old man, warm sun on their bare shoulders despite the cool of the morning breeze.

"Good men all," he rumbled, his voice still deep despite his years, "this race will determine your starting position for when the 'maids appear. Swimming is the test of a man, as we all know. Indeed, it was the Goddess herself who established the custom. Heed her laws!"

"We hear and obey," the listeners replied as one.

"That the 'maid chooses the man is the very law of life. She must touch you first, for it is sin, exile and certain damnation for a man to force his suit."

"We hear and obey."

"Your mating gifts should be offered freely, not as a purchase price, but rather as a sign of gratitude to the Goddess."

"We hear and obey." Here there was just a little less certainty. The men knew that any gift might be accepted by a 'maid. Other than containing no Island-banned iron, the 'maids' choices were curiously difficult to predict. What pleased one 'maid this year would please none the next.

"If you are selected by a 'maid, take time to give her her own pleasure, for such may entice her and her friends to return in future."

"We hear and obey."

"Lastly," he said, grinning, "all will have a chance at Festival. Groom yourselves well, smile at the 'maids, swim like eels!"

There was a round of polite applause from the older men. Them, sotto voce from one of them, "But not too fast!"

Some laughed, some frowned, for all remembered the legend that the first man to outswim the 'maids would mark the end of the world. Some took it as gospel, more felt it to be a joke, a play on words. Most ignored it as irrelevent, for the 'maids were famed for their speed. No man, not one, had ever bested a 'maid in the Goddess' sea.

"Be ready!" the Eldest announced and the boys prepared themselves. The race was of no little consequence, for a centre starting position when the day came meant a better chance of a quick sprint past the killer surf offshore, a better chance of meeting a 'maid beyond it.

"Off!"

+

"Well, Ranin, you didn't do too badly. I really think you have a chance!" The two boys had joined the other competitors in the village steam hut.

"Please, Timon. I swam like a pig." Ranin's voice was morose.

"You don't have to outswim all, my friend, just enough of them. And you are certainly in the top half."

"We shall see."

"Rest easy, cuz. Half the battle is getting through the surfline. That's not speed, it's more strength -- and you are strong as the kraken."

"We shall see."

+

Dusk two days later showed the Star and Planet in perfect alignment, male and female about to meet in loving embrace. Young men across the village tried to get to sleep, many with little success.

Timon lay wondering if the 'maids were anticipating tomorrow as much as the villagers. Eventually, he fell into a deep sleep, dreaming of a 'maid who would never quite allow him to see her face.

The next morning, the dining hall served a precious meal -- a meat stew with fresh bread. Timon couldn't remember whose turn it was to cook, but he resolved to say a special thanks to him later, for he had obviously been up well before dawn to give the swimmers a memorable and fortifying meal.

At the appointed hour, the competitors filed down to the beach.

With them as they walked were all the men of the village. Some carried bright towelsheets, others food and wine and padded jars of hot tea. Once the swimmers had entered the surf and had passed observation from shore, they would apply themselves to preparing welcoming love sites for what all hoped would be many returning couples. It was a point of pride that the village would make a show of wealth and hospitality for the 'maids emerging from the water.

Fathers and uncles walked beside sons, whispering words of encouragement and advice. Old men doddered along together, trading tales of their own summer festivals, where - of course - the 'maids had been far prettier than those seen lately. Young boys followed, some so young as to be unsure of what was happening, but still caught up in the excitement.

Timon's father was quiet, but his calloused hand weighed heavily on the boy's shoulder as they walked. The precious bronze knife hung on a thong around the boy's neck, a token of confidence and support more precious than mere words could ever be.

"Take it, with your great-grandfather's blessing," Takon had said gently. "He mated three years running, 'tis said, and two sons came to shore from that, one of them your grandfather. May it bring you -- and us all -- the same luck."

Timon's spontaneous bear-hug for his father had surprised them both, for villagers were hardly demonstrative with their emotions.

The Elders were waiting by the shoreline, having been up since before dawn. The sand had been ritually raked, seaweed removed to the gardens and the Welcome Beacon carefully laid. Each carried a small bottle of holy oil with which to anoint the young men. The hopeful youths clustered around them, each receiving the traditional thumbprint of oil over his heart.

Seeing that all were present, the Eldest-But-One ritually lit the Welcome beacon. Its high, bright blaze was said to signify a promise of a warm reception for the 'maids. The villagers then began to hold their breath, for it was not entirely unknown for the 'maids to read the Star-Planet alignment differently.

Soon however, above and behind them, a longhorn sounded. The village sentinel, Erdaw-the-Farsighted, high enough up the cliffs to see past the surf, announced a dance of 'maids in the water, heading towards the village.

The competitors prepared themselves on the shore, saying prayers, stretching, trying to relax, remembering tales and oft-given advice. Timon, near the centre of the beach, touched his grandfather's knife.

The horn sounded a second time. The boys readied themselves. At a third and longer blast, they launched themselves into the sea as one.

Timon's crawl was strong and he quickly pulled ahead of the mass of swimmers. Only half a dozen were with him now. Sea salt stung his eyes, but he was well used to that. The water was cool but not cold and the bright sun lit the rippled sand seabed below him clearly. Above the roar of water, he thought he could hear the high singing voices of the 'maids beyond. He redoubled his stroke.

Soon he was approaching the wall of surf, slowing down to take its measure. "Strength is important," his father had warned him, "but timing and angle are everything. Get it right and you'll slide through like a knife. Get it wrong and you'll be spread over the rocks like drying kelp and none to help you."

Timon paused, watched, waited, assessed the waves' timing. Another boy plunged past him prematurely, only to be thrown back, shrieking. Two others gathered nearby, warily assessing the waves.

Seeing his chance, Timon darted forward and, as he had hoped, slipped through with only a couple of quick strokes. Beyond the combers, the water was much calmer, almost placid. The 'maids' song was clear now, high, sweet -- and most alluring. Timon, used to the deeper songs of the fishing fleet, thought it was the most amazing sound he had ever heard; his blood pounded with the 'maids' voices.

Past the surf's peril, Timon headed for Man's Rock, a phallic protrusion of stone several hundred yards further out. He paused briefly to look around; only two other boys had made it this far. He couldn't see who they were. As he watched, two others emerged from the surfline, one bleeding from a wound in the forehead.

While Timon was one of the leading swimmers, it was suddenly important -- critical -- to him that he be the leader. He stretched out the strokes of his crawl, increased the rhythm. His lungs began to burn and his shoulders ache, but he pushed away the pain. This was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and discomfort mattered so very, very little beside the chance to claim one of the 'maids, to beget a son for the village.

Looking down through the clear water as he swam, the boy could see a dozen guardian sharks glide over the sand bottom below him. He watched the slow, deliberate movements of their sinuous tails. Legend said that they were godparents to the 'maids, that any man attempting to improperly approach the Islands would die in a frenzy of razor-sharp teeth. Normally, Timon would have returned to shore at the sight of even one. Today, he took their slow movement and depth to indicate consent, perhaps even approval, of the boys' mission.

Timon was approaching Man's Rock when her shadow was suddenly visible on the sandy ocean bed. She swam just below him, matching his movements, plainly infinitely more at home in the water than he.

Darting and twisting like a fish herself, the 'maid circled him as he did his best in a swimming sprint. Clearly, she was attracted. She smiled at him, but kept her distance. He thought of diving down to her, but the Elder's line, 'the 'maid choses the man' ran through his head and he merely smiled back.

The 'maid came closer, as naked as he. Slender, yet full-bosomed and with proper child-bearing hips, the creature was surrounded whenever she paused by a nimbus of amber hair longer than her arms. Green eyes examined him as she darted around him like a curious otter, lithe in her beauty.

The 'maid surfaced, stopped with her head above water. Timon took his cue from her and surfaced, careful to stay just out of reach. Breathing just a little bit hard, he took the opportunity to examine her in return.

Put simply, the 'maid was beautiful. Her face, with a high forehead and flawless skin, was ornamented with full lips that had Timon instantly longing to crush with his own. Her breasts lingered just below the surface, but deep cleavage was apparent.

"Name of you?" she asked. Her siren-like voice was high but rich in tone. It seemed to resonate in the boy's very core.

"Timon, son of Takon. And you?" The boy was careful to maintain his distance. To his embarrassment, felt himself becoming hard in the water. Now what? The old men had never mentioned this possibility. He shivered, not with cold.

"Naia." Smiling, she drifted closer, without apparent effort. Suddenly she dove. Timon saw firm, shapely buttocks and slender legs lift out of the water, her weight driving her down. He deliberated trying to follow her, but knew he was outclassed and instead remained on the surface. Suddenly the 'maid surfaced a mere handbreadth behind him, laughter on her lips.

And she touched him.

Timon's heart leapt at the touch, exhilarating, electric. He spun around, but the 'maid circled with him, always behind him. Then she dipped again, only to surface a moment later directly in front of him. One slender hand grasped his hardness between them, another carefully held the knife around his neck.

Naia smiled, with brilliant, even white teeth gleaming in the sun. "Timon?" she repeated, as if tasting the name.

"Timon," he confirmed. Feeling more confident now, he slipped the knife thong off his neck. Kicking harder to keep himself afloat, he stroked her cheekbone with one finger. Her head bent, as if leaning into his touch.

The 'maid allowed him to slip the thong over her neck. It was a binding pledge.

She leaned in towards him and he felt the softness of feminine lips for the very first time. Cool water on his groin emphasized his desire.

The 'maid's hands clung to his head, her kisses becoming demanding. Holding his breath, the boy's hand swept over her body as the two of them sank beneath the waves.

Surfacing, hand in hand, they laughed together, turned towards shore in languid strokes. Periodically they stopped to caress each other, renew their kisses. Below them, a pair of sharks followed, as if escorting the new couple. Twice a guardian swam up to swim beside the 'maid and the boy's eyes became wide at the sight of the massive fish accepting confident caresses from her.

Passing through the surf was easy going back in. As Timon led the 'maid onto the sand beach, he could see the watching, approving eyes of the older villagers further inland. Timon looked for his father, found him, saw him nod at Timon and smile at the graceful form walking beside him. He pointed behind a dune further down the beach; Timon saw his father's favorite scarf fluttering on a pole driven into the sand. Taking Naia by the hand, he led her towards it. It was clear that they were the first couple back from the waters.

In the privacy behind the dune, they found the 'bower Takon had constructed for them. Warmed by the summer sun, a soft towelsheet had been laid down for them, with others giving shelter from any errant breeze. Two bottles of wine -- a rare and imported luxury -- stood beside a pitcher of water and a tray of biscuits and assorted seafood. A stack of smaller towels lay to one side, along with feather pillows, a basin and some other comfort items.

Naia accepted a cup of wine, sniffed it delicately before taking a sip. She smiled in approval, helped herself to the delicacies on the tray.

Despite all the advice given him by virtually every older man in the village, Timon was uncertain as to what to do next. He knew that they would mate; Naia's acceptance of his gift made that certain. But it was the uncertain in-between steps which held him back.

In the event, the 'maid solved the problem for him, moving gracefully to lie down beside him on the towelsheet, her lovely body next to his. She laughed lightly, pushed him back onto his back and fed him titbits from the tray. As he was chewing appreciatively, he felt her gentle fingers trace along his torso. His hardness returned. Looking down at his eager manhood, she laughed again, but there was no malice in it, merely happy anticipation. He laughed with her then, his hands running softly along her side, down her inner thighs. Her eyes opened wider at the sensation of his callused but gentle hands on her body.

Never having seen a 'maid up close before and there of course being none but men in the village, it was all new, all tremendously exciting to the young man. Her body was far warmer than he had expected, her skin far softer than his experience with hard-working menfolk had prepared him for.

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byTarnishedPenny© 8 comments/ 8157 views/ 4 favorites

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