Sarlene's Touch Ch. 20byFuinimel©
The temple to Sarlene was by no means the largest in the district; the minarets of the temple of the Sun God cast their shadows over it during the morning. But it was one of the more beautiful, at least if you preferred graceful lines over austere majesty. Green vines ran across the outer walls, twining between the bas-relief carvings. The carvings were not, as in some other parts of the world, openly erotic; they showed scenes of marriage and demure affection, all of which were, of course, well within the goddess's purview.
It was not the common reputation that the temple had, of course. Many assumed that it was a place of debauchery, at least when regular marriage services were not being conducted there. But that view was mistaken, for while Sarlene was, among other things, a goddess of passionate sexuality, such things were not a part of her regular worship services. Impromptu, private, worship services, though... well, that was a different matter.
It was the last free day before the exploratory mission into the subterranean caverns beneath the city. Tomorrow, the adventurers would make their final plans, have a good night's rest, and then, perhaps, finally learn what was really going on under their feet. Dolrim and Vardala were staying at the villa, while Calleslyn paid a visit to her friend Messandra – Almandar wondered how many of the others had worked out the truth of their relationship, but had no intention of talking about it himself.
Lady Tarissa, who, out of all of them, would have had the most difficulty understanding such things, had instead chosen to spend the evening praying at the temple of Pardror, god of paladins. There was nothing unusual in that, for she always did so before any of the party's expeditions. But it had given Almandar the idea of paying a visit to the temple of his own preferred deity, the goddess of love.
The truth was, he was not a regular worshipper at the temple itself, although the goddess' free-wheeling nature meant that that was also true of many of her other devotees. But, he reflected, Sarlene had been very good to him since he had returned from the last expedition, and where better to say his thanks than in her own home?
As he stepped through the stone archway into the cool interior, he reflected on some of the goddess' recent gifts. He remembered Helsa's smile, and the feel of her breasts, Lyrette's sensuous lips sliding over the shaft of his cock, and his hands caressing Ashabi's mahogany skin. He thought of the taste of Ansreal's wet pussy, and the expression on Ostrid's face as she had cried out in the throws of her passion. Oh, yes, he had much to be thankful for.
Inside the temple was a long hall, evening sunlight shining down from the windows up above and catching on the rippling water of five fountains. Alcoves led off to the side, and devotional artwork decorated the walls and the altar at the far end. The artwork here was a little more risqué than that on the exterior, but not by much; the people depicted were scantily clad, but not exposing themselves. A huge tapestry image of the goddess herself hung behind the altar, an image of idealised beauty clad in diaphanous rose-coloured robes, smiling and opening her arms in welcome.
There was only one other person visible at the moment, the priestesses evidently about their business elsewhere. Almandar had seen her before, although he was uncertain how regular a worshipper she was. She was a short woman, perhaps a couple of inches over five feet tall, with long sandy hair that fell to her mid-back. She was turned away from him, sitting down by one of the pools, but even so, he could admire the tightness of her lavender-coloured dress, and the shapely curves of one partially exposed leg.
He searched his memory, and recalled that her name was Ravette. They had spoken before, a couple of times, but had never been more intimate than that. This was, he reflected, something of a pity, for she had magnificent breasts, their large size belying her short stature. Nonetheless, she was obviously busy, lost in her own reverie, and now was not the time to interrupt her. Besides, he had business of his own to attend to.
He knelt down beside another of the fountain pools, resting his knees on the soft and coloured cushions that lay around them. In the centre of the pool stood a statue of a naked couple entwined, pressed against each other to hide any indecent details. He looked down into the water, admiring the way the evening light caught its surface, a sunbeam shining down from up above.
Reaching into a small bag he gently removed some flowers that he had bought that afternoon, carefully resting them on the surface of the water, watching them bob about and move with the cycling of the fountain water. He held out his arms above them, mimicking the welcoming gesture of the goddess on the tapestry – not for Sarlene the closed hands of prayer favoured by some other deities.
He chanted the familiar words of the prayer of thanks. They were hundreds of years old, and still spoken in an archaic dialect of Common, yet they had changed enough down the years to remain perfectly understandable. Sarlene was free with her gifts, understanding and openness key parts of her theology.
As the flowers swirled in the water, curling filigrees of silver mist began to rise from the surface, twining around them. For Almandar, the rest of the world floated away, his senses now focused solely on the pool before him. The sounds of the outside world ceased, and instead he could hear, just at the edge of perception, achingly beautiful music. The tune was elusive, never quite clear enough to recall or reproduce, yet always somehow familiar.
The mist enclosed the flowers, like miniature vortices in the air, wafting their fragrance to his nostrils. It was sparkling now, a strange internal light, steadily brightening to shield the blossoms themselves from view. A sense of peace and harmony enveloped him, a momentary communion with the all-embracing love of the goddess. Then, with one final burst of light, the mist and the flowers were gone, and he was back in the real world, the blooms transported elsewhere, left with the memory of Sarlene's presence.
As always when he used these magical pools to offer sacrifices to the goddess, he was unsure of how much time had passed. But at some point during the experience, a woman had come over to kneel close to him, a quarter of the way around the fountain's circumference. He did not recognise her.
"I hope you don't mind," she said, her voice quiet, yet rich in timbre, "I saw you sitting here, and became entranced by the flowers... they have joined the goddess?"
He nodded, reflecting that she could not be a regular worshipper. But people, of course, came to the temple all the time, out of curiosity or from a genuine need for the gift of love. She was slender, in a dark green dress, and aged, he thought, in her mid twenties. Her hair and eyes were dark, the latter wide and giving her an air of vulnerability. Her skin looked soft and unblemished, her lips pale and thin, her cheekbones high.
"I am new here..." she said, "to the temple, I mean. But I needed to pray to the goddess... I suppose I shouldn't trouble you with it, but the pool looked so serene, and the flowers, and..." she stumbled over the words, glancing down at the water instead of looking straight at him, "and I think I may need a little guidance. You obviously know the prayers... if you wouldn't mind?"
"Of course," he said, holding out a hand, "I'm Almandar."
"Jiranda," she said, taking the hand and squeezing it in greeting. "And thank you."
"So, let's begin. You hold your hands like this," he demonstrated the gesture, "and keep your eyes on something that shows beauty – the water, the statue, the tapestry, whatever makes you feel most comfortable. The petition itself can be spoken out loud, but it is just as common to say it silently. But there are some prayers that we commonly use. They don't have to be word-perfect; Sarlene is a forgiving goddess. But let me teach you some of them..."
They remained there for a little while, he reciting some of the shorter prayers of petition, she repeating them, stumbling over the words a couple of times at first, but picking them up quickly. She chose to look, he saw, at the statue, with the lovers entwined, but he also noticed a couple of glances in his direction, to which he responded with an encouraging smile. The goddess of love was not jealous, and he knew committed partners who prayed facing each other.
When they had finished, she put her arms down by her sides, and turned to face him directly. "Thank you," she said, simply.
"I hope you find what you asked for," he said. She had chosen to do that part in silence, so he had no idea what it was, and would not enquire.
"Yes," she said, "I need a change in my life, something to take me away from... well, let me just say from past mistakes. Hopefully this is a beginning in that direction."
"The goddess welcomes people at any time."
"She seems a very free goddess," said Jiranda, "not one to get held up on rules. She doesn't seem to mind what you do."
"So long as you do it in the right frame of mind, and with the right intentions," agreed Almandar, "obviously, she frowns on acts of evil, or intentional ugliness – anything that takes love away from the world."
"You hear, though..." Jiranda paused, as if looking for the right words, "that there are other ways of worshipping her. Apart from the temple."
Almandar knew, of course, exactly what she referred to. And, given her glances earlier, he felt he could be open about the possibilities, if he phrased things right, and got through her uncertainty.
"Private means of worship, you mean," he said, watching her face intently for her reaction, "commune with the goddess through physical expression of affection."
Jiranda nodded, "if you do not mind me asking... how does that work?"
"Any time you make love," said Almandar, "you approach the goddess, whether with intent or not. You can say prayers of thanks – they can even be silent – if you want to show your gratitude for her gift, but otherwise, it is the act of love herself that pleases her, and your knowledge of where it comes from."
"But it is not communion in the way that your flowers in the pool were?"
"It is not a sacrifice, but it is a communion, albeit of a different kind. Worshippers believe that the moment of, shall we say, the peak, is a contact with the eternal power of love, the touch of the goddess. Obviously, as a goddess of love, she prefers two people to reach that point of communion together."
Jiranda nodded, then blushed slightly, opening her mouth as if to speak, before falling silent again.
"If you are free tonight," said Almandar, grasping the opportunity, "I would be willing to show you that form of worship as well. If you wish it."
She reached out and patted his hand, then took a deep breath, nodding decisively. "Yes, I think I would like that. I think it may be just what I need to start afresh. I shall thank the goddess again tonight," she added, with a knowing smile.
"After the communion," he said.
She leaned forward, whispering in his ear, "you mean, after you drive me to orgasm?" He said nothing, feeling no reply was needed to that. But then she leaned back, her expression suddenly changing, "oh – I've just remembered. I had plans... nothing important, I can change them. But I have to go, just for a moment, to let my sister know..." she got to her feet, "I'll be back, just in a few minutes. Don't move! I won't be long... just a couple of moments. Don't go."
"I'll be here," he replied sincerely.
She half ran from the temple, looking a little flustered. Her sister had to be waiting outside, he assumed, wondering how she would explain her absence for the evening, when they had presumably planned some other activity. Probably not with the truth, he thought, or she would not have worried about taking him with her. He got to his feet, and headed for the entrance himself, deciding to wait just inside the archway until she had returned.
"Almandar," said a chirpy voice, "has the goddess been good to you recently?"
He looked around to see Ravette approaching, until she stood next to him. This could be a little awkward, he reflected.
"She has, indeed," he said, "in fact..."
"Well, we wouldn't want to break that lucky streak, would we?" she replied, before he could explain further, "I'm alone tonight, with nothing to do, and you and I have never seemed to be free at the same time."
She leaned forward, pushing out her chest provocatively. And what a chest it was, he reflected. The fabric of her lavender dress strained to hold her bulging breasts in, her short frame making them appear even larger, her figure a perfect hourglass. Her blue eyes were wide, watching him intently. At any other time, he would have been more than willing to oblige her.
"I really appreciate the offer," he said, reluctantly, "but I am afraid that I have a prior engagement. Luck is not on our side, perhaps. And not for the next few days, either."
"Really?" she looked deflated, pouting in disappointment, "there is something more important?"
"It's not that, it's..."
At that precise moment, Jiranda returned, looking a little flushed, as if she had been running. She flashed a grin at Almandar, perhaps having half-expected him to have gone, but then noticed Ravette, and took a small step back, looking a little embarrassed.
"Jiranda – Ravette. An acquaintance of mine," he turned back to the shorter woman, "it was nice to meet you again, but I must be going."
"So this is your prior engagement?" said Ravette, perking up again slightly and eyeing Jiranda, as if comparing her charms against her own.
"Yes, so..." Almandar held out an arm to Jiranda, and made as if to move away. Ravette should understand, being a fellow worshipper.
"Well, I'm game if you are," said Ravette brightly.
It took a second or two for Almandar to grasp her meaning, but then the light dawned. "I... uh... I'm not sure that would work..."
Jiranda frowned, looking from one to the other as they spoke, apparently still trying to divine what they were talking about. "Is there something I'm missing here?"
"I thought I might join you," Ravette told her, "if you like."
"Oh..." said Jiranda, suddenly flustered, "I don't think you... you see we were going to... I mean, it wouldn't be..."
"I know," said the other woman, "I didn't mean to intrude."
Jiranda's eyes widened, and her mouth formed an 'O' of surprise as she evidently realised that Ravette had known all along what she and Almandar had been going to do, and what the nature of her offer had been. She stood there in shock for a moment, and Almandar mentally sought for a way to defuse the situation; Ravette had been too forward, and now the promise of the night seemed to be crumbling before his eyes.
But then the taller woman braced herself, taking a long deep breath, and speaking, her voice barely more than a squeak. "All right. Yes."
As soon as she had spoken, she seemed shocked, as if she could hardly believe what she had just said. Ravette grinned, bouncing up on her toes, making her breasts jiggle beneath the tight dress. Almandar looked again at Jiranda, but she nodded firmly, unable to speak for the moment, but her mind apparently made up.
A couple of seconds ago, he had thought the night was already over. Now he realised that it had only just begun, and should very much be a night to remember...
"This is my bedroom," said Jiranda, opening the door and gesturing within as if she was showing off her house to a regular visitor. Although she had shown no signs of changing her mind or backing down, she did look a little nervous, uncertain as to what to do. She held the door open, so Almandar stepped inside first, and, when she still didn't move, beckoned to her to follow him.
She did so, hands fluttering first against the door handle, and then fidgeting at her side. She glanced around as Ravette stepped into the room beside her, the smaller woman's movements confident and eager, her face visibly flushed with anticipation.
Jiranda took a moment to calm herself, and looked straight at Almandar. She took a few deep breaths, steadying her nerves, "I've not done anything like this before," she said, somewhat needlessly, "just so you know."
"Well, actually..." said Ravette, closing the door softly behind her, "neither have I. Not quite like this, anyway. But I have thought about it a lot," she added with a sly grin.
Almandar reached over with one hand, gently pulling Jiranda toward him for a kiss. Her lips were soft, hesitant at first, but soon melting into a long and passionate caress as she pressed her body into his. Her initial hesitancy seemed to be fading as his hands traced out her flanks and her slim, tight, buttocks. She ran her fingers through his hair as they continued to kiss, her other arm wrapped around his back.
Behind him, he could hear Ravette beginning to undress, and the thought made his kisses more passionate, running over Jiranda's cheek, ears, and neck. His hands sought out the fastenings at the back of her dress, untying them with experienced deftness, and slipping underneath the fabric to feel her back through her shift.
He gripped one buttock, pressing her hips into his, his hard erection straining against the material that separated them. He rucked her skirt up, but the hemline normally reached to the middle of her long calves, so he could not reach down far enough to feel her legs. She was murmuring as they continued to kiss, momentarily oblivious to the rest of the world.
That oblivion lasted only until Almandar felt Ravette beginning to pull his shirt free from the back of his trews, lifting up both it and his tunic, to run her hands up and along his back. Her legs pressed against his, and her hands wandered forward, over his belly, brushing against Jiranda's in the process.
With a slight gasp, the taller woman stepped back, out of his embrace, her dress half-falling off one arm to reveal the short-sleeved white shift beneath. Behind him, Ravette pressed herself into his back, her face against his shoulder blades, her large breasts squashed against him as she continued to stroke his stomach, lifting his shirt and tunic up higher as they went.
Jiranda stood watching them both, her eyes wide, and her face flushed. She remained rooted to the spot as Almandar helped her remove his upper garments and one of Ravette's legs rubbed against an outer thigh. The shorter woman moved round then, so that he could see her properly, swishing her long hair. She was still wearing her shift, but it had a low cut front that exposed the upper curve of her bosom, and barely reach to mid-thigh, showing off her shapely legs.
She reached a hand up, pulling his head down into a kiss, and he gripped her flanks through the thin cotton, feeling their tight inward curve. She leaned into him, breasts straining against the fabric that still separated them from his naked torso. Her buttocks were rounded, larger than Jiranda's, yielding pleasantly to the press of his fingers.
He glanced up at the other woman, hoping that she had not finally taken fright. But, instead, she seemed to be gazing at the pair of them in rapture, watching their every move. She even squeezed one of her own small breasts as she did so, her mouth part open, her breathing heavy. However she had expected herself to react, it was clear that she was now finding the sight of two semi-naked people caressing to be one that was deeply arousing.
Catching his glance, she quickly began to undo her girdle, removing her dress and pulling it down over her slender hips. Her shift was even shorter than Ravette's – or so it seemed against her long legs – revealing a beautifully creamy skin that seemed clear of any blemish. He could see her dark nipples through the cotton, poking against the material. She moved back towards the bed, sitting on it with legs slightly apart, and Almandar made to join her.