Aphrodite's Reward Ch. 03bybashfullyshameless©
One could not technically call it meditation, given her attentiveness to the muffled noises floating out of the innermost shrine. Cinna sat cross-legged outside the curtains and the door to the sacred space, assuming the posture and serenity of a meditative effort. She remained in place for hours. At a glance, no one would have suspected otherwise, and in fact she felt calm and peaceful. She also felt pleased, and more than a little aroused.
The moans and whimpers of the high priestess were music to her ears. Ariella had a way of reducing all of her partners to helpless wrecks. Cinna thought—lovingly—that it was about time her mentor had a taste of her own medicine.
The acolyte hoped she might experience such a treatment, too.
Footsteps approaching from the other side of the main chamber pulled her from her reverie. Cinna's head lifted, just barely, to greet Zenobia as the other acolyte's sandaled feet brought her to a halt before her. The younger acolyte had not run, but a sense of urgency was plain in the pretty brunette's expression. "Prince Alaric is at the entrance," she announced softly.
"He is not to enter," said Cinna.
"He understands," nodded Zenobia. "The prince did not come alone. There are a pair of Companions with him, and one and two of the royal servants."
"Then we can expect some semblance of diplomacy from him this time," Cinna frowned as she rose. "Your hood, Zenobia," she reminded gently.
Zenobia blinked and then blushed, tugging the hood of her robes further down her forehead to cover the eyes. Strictly speaking, the hoods were not entirely necessary or required, but they offered a measure of distance between the acolytes and the laypeople of the city. An acolyte could pursue lovers all she wanted in her free time, but Zenobia's duties of the day made her a face of the temple and the goddess, and not her own personal interests.
The matter did not lead to further reproach. Among the comforts and rewards of service to the goddess was an almost palpable affection shared by those who lived and served in the temples. Romance, intimacy and passion rose and fell like the tides within Aphrodite's temples. Even at their lowest ebb that context of frequent intimacy colored all matters between them. The only limit seemed to be that of the individual priest or acolyte's natural attractions... though when it came to her acolytes and priesthood, the goddess seemed to generally select those attracted to both sexes.
The younger acolyte walked beside Cinna, though deliberately falling a step behind. "No one has ever told me of the prince's offenses," she said quietly. "I know that he is unwanted here, and that he has laid insult, but not the details."
"Alaric suffers from common delusions and failings of ego," Cinna explained in flat, matter-of-fact tones. She walked with purpose, but did not hurry. "That we have not told you of his 'highness' should tell you how much thought and attention he deserves. Suffice it to say that he takes us all for whores—and he thinks whores are beneath him. Neither of these opinions endear him to the goddess or her servants.
"He has petitioned the temple more than once, seeking to experience the sacred rites and to learn the arts, always offering some flimsy reasoning for his requests. Each time, we have found him without a shred of humility or honesty or piety. He seeks only a night's pleasure, and thinks his royal blood and wealth should earn him special consideration. Naturally, he has grown frustrated, and has difficulty keeping his resentment in check. As with all petitions, we keep his secret," she added meaningfully.
"He also longs for Ariella," Cinna frowned, "but only in the basest manner. She would at best be a pretty trinket on his arm. He seems to believe this would be an honor."
Zenobia blinked soberly. "Such a shame," she said. "He has a pleasant body."
"You may find grander bodies of humbler origins," predicted Cinna. "None would blame you or criticize if you wanted to give the prince a chance, but not one of the other acolytes has seen fit despite his physical appeal."
"No," Zenobia replied, "I hear your warnings. If a man does not want to give as much as he receives, I think he is a waste of my time... sacred rites or no."
She didn't see the faint smile of approval on Cinna's lips. "I will do the talking with the prince. Thank you for summoning me." Their steps and their conversation carried them to the foyer of the temple, and then to the grand doors beyond. While those doors were closed, a simpler side entrance behind the tall marble columns of the entrance allowed for subtler exit and entry. Cinna moved to that smaller door and stepped outside into bright sunlight.
Repairs to the Plaza of the Divines would take months to complete, but many were already underway. Across Cinna's field of vision, she could see stonecutters taking measurements for broken blocks that had to be replaced and other workers carving out the most damaged pieces of the walkways. Burned and withered plants had mostly been cleared away. She saw a horse-drawn cart loaded with new greenery waiting to be settled into its new homes.
Across the Plaza, clerics of the god Frey performed their work in front of the ruins of their burnt-out temple for a flock of farmers and other supplicants while workers hauled away wreckage. Frey's temple received the most attention of all the aspects of the Plaza. Cinna couldn't argue with that, even knowing that Aphrodite's temple would not have received as much attention had their fortunes been reversed. The world needed love, but people needed to eat. The god of the harvest had to be honored.
The Temple of Aphrodite gave generously to the cause of rebuilding Frey's longhouse. Aphrodite's servants in the city had given generously to other shrines as well. The shrine to Athena might well be rebuilt largely through that support.
Unfortunately, Cinna's duty here was not to survey the reconstruction, but instead to attend to the least interesting matter present in the Plaza. She'd have preferred to haul out broken bricks with the workers.
The visitors waited on the steps of the temple: four of his Companions, two men and two women in a mixture of chain mail and leather, along with an attendant in fine clothes and a long coat that marked him as one of the royal household servants, and Alaric himself.
"Your highness," she said with her clear, deliberately flat voice as she bowed, "you grace us with your visit. How may I help you?"
He wore no shining armor today, but rather something like casual finery: a silk black shirt under a fine leather vest, with dark breeches and high boots. Naturally, it was all festooned with gold and silver studs, embroidery and jewelry. His broad and feathered felt hat could shelter the egos of any three ordinary men. Prince Alaric inclined his head ever so slightly in response to her bow. "I am on the town today," he declared. "I thought to look in on the... hero of our recent battle. I am told that Davos came to the temple this morning with one of the acolytes. Is he still here?"
"He is, your highness," Cinna confirmed.
"Fetch him for me," said the prince. "I much desire to speak with him."
"My lord prince, I beg your forgiveness," Cinna replied, though her flat tone carried no semblance of begging, "but the high priestess meets now with him in private. It is forbidden for anyone to interrupt."
Alaric's brow furrowed. "Indeed," he frowned. "This Davos is one of the faithful of Aphrodite?"
"His reverence and devotion has been ascertained," Cinna nodded deeply. "Of all the gods and goddesses, Davos of Murried holds Aphrodite most dear. He and the high priestess had much to discuss. She guides him in worship as we speak."
"Worship," Alaric repeated, tactfully keeping the sour tone out of his voice.
"Yes, your highness. I assure you, with all respect that you are due, that Davos is deeply embedded in sacred matters."
* * *
Many folk would think this perverse, thought Davos, but I doubt many men could resist. "Tell me if this hurts," he whispered into her ear from behind Ariella on the bed.
The naked beauty on her hands and knees before him simply gasped and pushed back at his hips and his cock with that wonderful ass. "Take me," she moaned in sincere need. "I want this."
He kept her spread with his hands, slowly pushing up into her tight flesh with his cock as hard as ever—if not more so. The oils slathered on his shaft and down the crack of her ass were almost as arousing as the reality of the act they now committed. No act of lust was forbidden or foul in this space and if done with consent... but as Ariella had said, the presumed taboo that so many others held against this act enhanced the excitement for both of them.
They'd shared over an hour of intimate touching, probing and preparation of her body. Thorough attention to cleanliness had been assured before they even met, but Davos and Ariella saw to every aspect of readiness just the same. Tenderness and reassurance were just as important as naughty desire, though now that the moment was upon them the latter dominated all their other emotions.
Davos penetrated into her warm, tight hole slowly but relentlessly. Ariella let out a low moan and arched her back. He couldn't read anything from that tone--it could come from discomfort, or fear, or from pleasure--but the way her ass pushed back against his intruding cockhead made the surest statement.
"Goddess, yes, please," Ariella groaned as Davos worked his way slowly into her, "let me have all of this man!"
He pushed in another tight, warm inch, loving the constricting feeling on his cock and reveling in the beautiful view. This new intimacy left him feeling intoxicated and powerful. He'd heard before that such acts caused discomfort at first, and sometimes pain and even bleeding, but he and Ariella had been quite careful and now shared only intense pleasure. Perhaps all that lengthy preparation made all the difference, or maybe it was simply the blessing of Aphrodite at work. Maybe it was both.
Regardless, Davos continued his slow and relentless penetration of Ariella's ass to their mutual delight. "Oooh, Davos," Ariella moaned loudly when her ass was fully up against his groin and he'd invaded as deeply as he could, "it's so good."
"Yes," he growled, leaning over her possessively. He couldn't embrace her like he wanted—couldn't seize her breasts and also support himself, not with everything at and below his hips charged with electric ripples of pleasure—but he could still get close to her ear and emphasize their union. "So good."
"Mmhh. You like it?" she all but whined.
"You're amazing," he said, pushing just a bit to experience a little motion. The oils seemed to do the trick, enabling him to move within her without unpleasant friction. In truth, he would not have said her ass was better than her soothing, welcoming sex. He would not be the one to initiate this up in the future—and had not been the first to suggest it now—but none of that meant he wouldn't savor this moment.
He didn't lie. She felt amazing, and the mere reality of this act drove them both wild. Many cultures forbade this as an act of perversion; others spoke of it as if it should shame both partners. Even where it was not stigmatized, it was not spoken of. Yet here they were, engaged and wanting—"More," she said.
Davos withdrew, feeling ever more potent and confident as he saw his length pulling out of her, and then pushed back in once more. "Better?" he asked.
"Oh yes," Ariella replied. "I'm getting used to this quickly. I could get very used to this with you."
Her partner smiled. He would not ask for this in the future, nor did he think it better than other more conventional intimacies... but he would never, ever turn it down, either.
Davos reached for the small bottle of oil and dribbled a little more into the valley of her ass just for good measure, and then increased his tempo ever so slightly to work the oil in and to enjoy their coupling. When he leaned forward again and reached around to her front, bringing well-oiled fingers to the lips of her wet sex, his partner shivered and bucked against him.
Ariella whimpered out something unintelligible. He knew exactly what she meant by it, and so he kept going.
* * *
"Very well," decided Alaric. "A prince should respect the piety of his people."
"Yes," Cinna agreed, flatly and unbidden.
The prince blinked at that. He couldn't tell if she said it to scold him or if it had been completely genuine. Perhaps she didn't realize he had more to say just then. Of all the acolytes in the temple—presuming he could tell them apart, as he rarely remembered their names—this one always seemed the most difficult to deal with. She was also, naturally, the one he had to face most often.
"I understand that Davos has been provided with lodgings at the Singing Lion. It is a fine establishment. I visit there sometimes myself. Would you be so kind as to relay to him that I will be there tonight, should he care to join my Companions and I for a friendly dinner and perhaps a drink or two? I would get to know him before he is thrust into more formal settings with the crown and court all in attendance. It may help him feel more comfort, as well."
"A generous offer," Cinna observed. "His highness is most kind. I shall relay your offer. I do not, however, know how long his business in the temple will keep him. If he cannot join you, shall I send word?"
The thought of it caused the prince some obvious consternation, but he held his reaction down to a brief expression of annoyance that quickly passed. "That would be appreciated, yes," the prince said. "You may go now."
"Humbly, your highness," replied Cinna with another short bow before she went back inside the temple.
The prince spun on his heel to face his entourage. His eyes first went to the man in castle finery close beside him. "You may go relay all that to Edward or my mother or whoever serves between you and the steward," he said irritably. "I trust I have not done anything embarrassing in your eyes?"
The servant put on a good face of deference and apology as he bowed. "Goodness, no, your highness," he said. "The steward merely wanted me to accompany you on this errand in case you needed—"
Alaric's raised hand cut him off. "Spare me," he sighed, "it's already been explained before. I know you are here as a minder. I'm sure I can be trusted to my own devices when the rest of my plans are personal in nature. Or do you need to watch me and my Companions shop and tour the city?"
"I beg your forgiveness, your highness," the man bowed again, "and I will go."
The Companions all stepped closer as the servant scurried off with whatever dignity he could muster. "You came down on him a bit hard, didn't you?" asked one of the women, though with more humor than sympathy.
"Don't start, Terrwyn," Alaric snapped. "The man was sent as a babysitter from my mother or from Edward, nothing more. As if I cannot simply invite a commoner to eat with me without needing supervision."
"Peace, Alaric," said Terrwyn, her gloved hands raised. The leather of her new armor still made tiny crinkling noises as she moved. It was too bad her last set couldn't be salvaged after the battle, but at least it did its job. Terrwyn stood side by side with the prince when the goblins broke and ran—many of them straight through the Companions' line. She had also, pointedly, waited for the prince to declare how many of them he'd killed before claiming a lower and therefore less accurate number. The man's ego had to be handled as delicately as elvish crystal.
"I don't mean to criticize," the warrior continued. "He's simply doing what was asked of him."
"Yes, and he's doing that now, too, thankfully. And I'll ask you to drop it."
"So that's it, then?" piped up Majella. Like Terrwyn, her armor was comprised mostly of leather, though darker and lighter for functional purposes. Where her longtime partner relied on a skilled sword arm and ready shield to cut through their battles, Majella leaned more heavily on speed, stealth and guile. Her delicately pretty face tended to lure men into underestimating her in a head-on fight, too, which suited her just fine. "Dinner and drinks at the Lion this evening? Perhaps we should drop by and warn Thaddeus or Juliana that we'll be there so they'll be ready for us?"
"I'm always up for it," said Geoffrey, clad in chain mail and leather much like Terrwyn's. He slapped Baldwin on the arm. "I'm up for waiting there all night for our new hero friend to turn up."
"We might not be in such a state for actually meeting him by the time he does," snorted Baldwin.
Alaric rolled his eyes. "You may do as you wish, but I'll not waste my time on catering to the caterers," he grumbled. "I have better things to do today." With that, the prince turned and gruffly walked away.
Terrwyn snatched him by the collar and yanked him back. Though the prince gave a grunt of surprise, no one heard it over the racket made by the cart that overturned in front of him in an effort to come to a sudden halt. Bricks and debris tumbled out where the prince had nearly stepped.
"Gods, no!" the driver of the cart shouted too late, but then his fall from the cart had him fully occupied. He tumbled to one side as his load scattered everywhere, but managed to avoid injury. Though startled, the horse realized it could only drag the cart only so far whilst on its side. The animal looked completely unharmed.
The driver looked extra fearful when he recognized the man he'd almost hit. "Your highness! I am so sorry, are you alright?" he blurted.
"You oaf!" Alaric shouted. "Watch where you're going! Or are you too stupid to do such simple work as moving blocks from one end of the street to another?"
Baldwin snickered. Geoffrey managed to keep his laughter in check. All work around the group ceased, with some laborers looking on in shock and others immediately going to the driver's aid. Majella was quickly at his side, too, offering a hand to help him up.
"No harm done," she said, looking the driver over with a nod and then turning to her comrade. "You're all in one piece. So's he," she nodded brightly. "Nothing gets hurt but a cart and a pile of broken bricks, eh?"
Alaric jerked his shirt back into place. He glanced back at Terrwyn, and while his eyes held no reproach, the man plainly wasn't happy. "Peasants," he seethed.
The driver bowed deeply. "I am so sorry, your highness," he repeated.
Alaric stormed off, hardly waiting for the crowd of men and women that had gathered to part. "Make way!" Baldwin shouted loudly, recognizing the prince's mood. He and Geoffrey followed close behind. "Make way!"
Neither of the women rushed off after them. Majella looked up at her tall friend as Terrwyn stepped up to the driver. "You are unhurt? You're sure?" she asked.
"Yes, my lady," he nodded. "Only my pride and... well, my coinpurse now," he added glumly. The look on his face as he stared at his cart spoke to his plight.
"How much does a cart like this cost?" asked Terrwyn. She paid no mind to the rise of Majella's eyebrow in response to her question.
"I paid twenty-five gold for it," lamented the driver.
"It sounds like a fair price," said Terrwyn, pulling off the glove from her right hand, "though I don't know the market well." She took a small emerald ring off of her little finger. "Here. See what you can get for this."
The driver accepted the ring with obvious surprise. "Thank you, my lady! Your generosity will keep food on my children's table!" He looked down at the ring, then glanced at the wreckage and said, "This will help limit my losses, though the day's wages are clearly not—"
"Don't push it," Majella said, rolling her eyes. She tugged Terrwyn's arm to get the warrior moving along with her to follow the prince and the other Companions. "One could get much more for that ring than a workman's cart," she noted as they walked.