Keira swallowed hard and tried to will away the nervous rolling of her stomach as the Crones began to lay the ritual circle and pile wood high for the great blaze that would burn for Beltane. The Earth's fertility had to be ensured, the god had to be conceived to be reborn anew at Yule and Beltane was the night for the proper rituals. The young men would run the forests tonight, competing to slay the King Stag for the honor of becoming the Oak King for the ritual and earn the right to take the Maiden Huntress- Keira had been chosen as the goddesses vessel this year.
Earlier, many young women had danced around a maypole in celebration but tonight was a darker, more intense and passion-driven celebration. Keira was a daughter of Avalon, taught since she could speak that her duty was to the goddess, her consort and her anointed power on earth- the Lady of the Lake, Keira's own grandmother, but now, she was nervous and restless. She tried to breath deeply and remain calm, it was an honor to lie with the Oak King but in the honor lay a trap as well. She would have no choice who took her, the man who brought down the King Stag would be her lover for the night, she could not cry off once the ritual began.
She tried to wipe her sweaty palms but the leather loincloth did little to absorb the moisture. One of the Crones called her name, Keira turned and the old woman gestured for her to sit before her. Another woman approached then and the two aged woman set to the laborious task of painting the ritual symbols in blue woad over Keira's face and body. The only areas that would be untouched by the dye were her breasts, which were bound by a thick leather strap, and her nether regions, barely concealed beneath her skirt. Her night-dark hair was braided and a female healer had her lie back so they could be certain of Keira's purity. It was an embarrassing necessity and Keira felt her face heat but she was grateful the men had not arrived at the ritual site yet.
When the woad had set, they bathed her to clean any excess from her skin, it left behind vividly blue stains in elaborate patterns and she looked in wonder at her reflection in the still waters of the sacred lake. The Crones gave her fresh leathers to wear and placed a crescent moon topped mask over her startling blue eyes.
Her identity did not matter on Beltane, she was the virgin goddess for the night. As the sun finally sank behind the horizon, she had to fight down bile. She tried to assure herself that the man who took down the Stag did not matter, whoever he was, as he was the goddesses choice but she found herself hoping he was handsome or at least gentle. She was escorted back to the ritual hill and found her grandmother waiting.
"Huntress." the Lady of the Lake said reverently, offering a deep curtsy. Keira was momentarily shocked, unused to the deference as on Avalon she was a mere Priestess worth no more respect than any other despite her grandmother's status but tonight she was the goddess in human form. Drum and pipe music started as she stepped into the circle drawn with symbols of power and fertility. She had to draw a calming breath when the men who would hunt stepped from the trees to kneel at the edge of the circle.
When they had all dropped to one knee, Keira danced. At first, she was timid, keenly feeling every eye upon her but as the music picked up speed, energy seemed to fill her and suddenly, the men watching no longer mattered. She danced with all the passion a young goddess would, she danced until she felt full to the brim with the goddess then, she stopped. Everything went momentarily still when she ceased dancing then a cry went up.
"We seek your blessing, Huntress!" the men shouted and she stepped slowly towards them. She touched each bowed head briefly, near twenty young men would try their souls in the hunt and Keira found, to her distant amazement, that she only wished their success. Any selfish desires for a man of beauty, charm or gentleness burned away with her dance, leaving her filled with only the goddess and the desire for a man of strength, a true Oak King.
As she stepped back, the Lady of the Lake commanded the hunt begin and the men stood, rushing into the trees, some bellowing war cries and others silent, but intent. When the last man had disappeared into the forest, Keira turned and climbed onto the horse provided for her, bareback. She would ride to the cliffs and the sacred cave to begin her vigil, her wait for her Oak King. It would encase them in the earth's womb and allow the temporarily divine couple privacy to pass their night.
Outside the cave several fires were already lit, where priestesses and common folk alike danced, sang and drank to the joy of new life. Later, many would sneak away from the blaze of the fires to make love under the stars in private celebration of the goddess and her consort. The goddess still filled her when she entered the cave and lowered herself to the thick furs so she felt no fear, just exhilaration as if she were running with the men after the great stag.
Kent broke away from the other men, running swiftly on bare feet in any direction his instincts led him. He knew the god was with him, blessing and filling him as he was with any man brave enough to test himself against the King Stag with naught but a knife and his courage. The other men would not take down the stag however, he would claim that honor or the stag would kill him. He wanted the woman who played the Virgin Huntress, burned for her like he had for no other. Her soul blazed brightly, calling to the primal, divine part of him and he would answer the call.
He would claim her, not some other man, she was his. Or at least for this night, she would be. The god urged his speed and he caught sight of the herd, the great King Stag at it's head and his heart rose in anticipation. His pace increased, his breath coming in gasping pants and his side burning like a hot brand had been pressed against him but he would not slow. To ease his speed would mean conceding the goddess-touched beauty and he would not allow another man to have her. He leapt, there was a cry, spilling blood and a great crash.
Keira sat up with a cry, a vision of blood spray and chaos momentarily overcoming her senses. She smiled and stood, the hunt had ended.
Kent rose, the blood of the King Stag splashed across his face, chest, the hide covering his manhood and even his silvery-blonde hair was stained. He whooped a victory cry and the other men picked it up as they joined him in the clearing. A few of the men helped him lift his kill to present to the Crones and the Lady of the Lake. Then he would claim his true prize, the virgin priestess awaiting him in the sacred cave. The other men herded him towards the cliffs, rowdy with energy from the hunt and excitement from his quick kill.
The Lady of the Lake smiled triumphantly when she saw him coated in blood.
"The Oak King is crowned! Rejoice, for the goddess has her consort!" she shouted into the frantic merrymaking, making the crowd even more insane with ecstatic joy. He stopped before the Lady of the Lake and dropped to one knee to accept his crown, made from the antlers of the King Stag taken the previous year. His kill was strung up and the blood drained into a bowl to be used to bless people and crops alike. The stag was skinned quickly and the still bloody pelt was thrown over his shoulders.
"Rise, Oak King." the Lady said quietly, bowing to him as he stood. The crowd also offered him honor, dropping to their knees before him. The bowl of stag's blood was presented to him, he dipped his fingers in and flicked blood out over the crowd in blessing. Then the Huntress appeared at the mouth of the cave, looking beautiful and terrible in her she-warrior leathers and woad paint. He was congratulated, slapped on the back and urged toward the Huntress with bawdy encouragement. When he reached her he smeared the stag blood over her womb, as proof of his triumph then he seized her and carried her into the cave amidst raucous cheering.
Keira looked up at the huge, blonde man that had won her as he laid her back against the furs. He was gorgeous, even bloodstained and dirty from his hunt. A savage part of her enjoyed the proof of his kill still on his skin and marking her own where he rubbed against her. He was muscled and utterly masculine. The goddess rose in her, making her bold enough to stroke his face. He leaned into her touch, closing his eyes as if in bliss. When her hand traveled lower to stroke his chest and belly, he made a animalistic noise in his throat then kissed her fiercely, no doubt bruising her lips but she did not care.
The primal part of her rose to meet his and she arched into his hand as he cupped her breast. A harsh tug and the seams parted, leaving her breasts bare to him. His mouth found her nipple and she made a surprised mewling sound as a spear of liquid heat shot south to her womanhood. His bulge ground into her belly, making her curious, hot and worried about his girth all at once. He pulled away from where he had been nipping at her throat abruptly and struggled to remove his loincloth and hers so flesh could meet flesh.
When his naked body lay against her, absolutely no barriers between them except the one he would break shortly, he groaned. She closed her eyes when she felt his manhood press against her thigh, her face flushing as she showed fear for the first time. He snarled, he wanted her passion, not her fear.
"Look at me." he demanded, she shook her head and kept her eyes closed, the color in her cheeks spreading to her chest. He stroked his hand down her body to her core, parting her lips and stroking the gem between them, making her gasp but her eyes remained shut. He continued his gentle ministrations and watched her face, enjoying watching her pleasure despite the near-pain in his own groin.
"Look at me, beauty." he murmured after she had peaked. She hummed her displeasure at the request, still caught in her euphoria but her eyes popped open when he spread her thighs. Her hand pressed against his chest, starting to panic at the feel of his thickness pressed against her so intimately. He pinned her arms with casual strength and bent to kiss her, murmuring that it would only hurt a moment then it would be naught but pleasure.
She could not help but relax beneath his fierce strength and gentleness. He could easily just plunge forward carelessly, she knew but he was soothing her and his care helped her ease her panic. She returned his kiss and spread her thighs wider as he began to press forward. He pulled away to watch her face as he entered her and she met his strange grey eyes, trying to let the goddess rise again to fortify her courage when he stopped, his length resting against her maidenhead.
He froze for a moment to savor his shallow entrance and give her a moment to gather her courage then he bent and sharply nipped her ear as he plunged forward, breaking her barrier and raising a cry of pain and surprise from her.
"Sweet goddess!" he called softly as he came to rest deep inside of her, she was tighter than a fist and warm and so, so wet. He had to call on all his will power to not spill immediately like a boy taking his first woman.
He wanted to offer her pleasure, so he remained still and prayed that she would become accustomed to his size quickly. He grunted in surprise when she wiggled beneath him a moment later and thrust involuntarily before freezing again, worried he had caused her more pain but she moaned in loss when he stilled. Silently, he thanked the god and goddess alike and set about bringing them both to paradise or as near as a man could come.