Talla's Temple Ch. 14byxtorch©
Talla couldn't claim that she was comfortable this morning.
No matter how she adjusted her top, her chest ached from the weight of her breasts. Neither had she had been able to find a good way to sleep. She had always preferred to sleep on her back but the weight of her breasts stretched her skin and pulled at her muscles, producing a nagging pain. As a result, she'd resorted to sleeping on her side, tossing one way and then the other for relief.
After a couple of hours, she'd finally figured out to pile some clothing in front of her body. That had won her a few hours respite, but the pain had returned in the morning. She couldn't expect tonight to be as easy.
She turned to see M'lis calling her. She had trouble dealing with both M'lis and Adria. She was just as guilty as they were, at least in terms of intent, yet they had suffered while she had escaped punishment. The two of them were very casual about it and clearly didn't blame Talla. It wasn't in them to do so, but she didn't feel the same way, which made it made it hard for her to speak to either of them.
"I'm headed in after lunch," the Neophyte called out. "Do you want me to pick up your assignment?"
Talla already had her answer worked out, if not how to handle her guilt towards them.
"Naw, thanks," she said, keeping her tone as light as she could. "I'm heading in there anyway."
"Alright," M'lis said with a shrug. "See ya later."
Talla had a plan. And she figured that she at least needed to slip in to the Offices to get it going.
Zhair'lo was, once again, feeling quite content with the world. Events hadn't brought Talla his way a fourth time, but he was confident that -- on top of the Initiation, the Upgrade and their first night together -- they would find each other again.
Nadine, mind, had left some troubled thoughts in his head.
There were women -- or was it better to call them girls in that case? - inside the Temple who were left out. They weren't upgraded and therefore weren't allowed to Serve. He wondered if they were even educated like the others, the way Natta had described it to him. Probably not.
They were stuck that way, wearing their long skirts as a sign of their curse, until someone like him came along. Nadine had been trapped in that pariah existence for months. Could others be in direr straits?
That had to be a miserable way to live. He supposed that Nadine might be exaggerating. The Temple, after all, was a force for good and peace and the happiness of everyone. He'd known that from before he could remember and had no doubt of it. It was just a very mysterious force for good, peace and happiness. That was all.
Harzen had had him up on a saddle already today, giving him further training in horsemanship. Why? Zhair'lo didn't know. The old man had a grim look of determination on his face. He was still upset about something and, while it clearly wasn't Zhair'lo himself, it was obviously related to him in some way.
In the meantime, he had an upgrade tonight to think about. At least he felt better about that. Whatever had gone wrong the first time, the women had clearly figured it out.
He'd be rubbing against one of them and coming all over another and everything would be fine. He was even certain that he would enjoy it. On top of that it would be a rescue, exactly the sort of thing pawns were used for in board games. This was pleasing in its own right, because being valuable to the Temple was what every man wanted for himself.
His only regret -- the one thing that was always at the back of his mind -- was the fact of Talla. Neither Natta, for all her eagerness, nor Nadine for her desperation, had found a way inside his head the way Talla had. Sex was sex. Service was service. But the mesh he'd had with Talla had been something beyond that.
He wanted it again.
But it wouldn't be today. The previous day's rain had cooled things off just enough to avoid a heat bell. He would have to wait.
He frowned. Maybe, if he was lucky, she'd been in the audience tonight.
Talla had also been unhappy with the milder weather, and for much the same reason. At least it hadn't rained. That would have been far too much of a reminder of the previous day's events. It was enough to watch M'lis and Adria moving as carefully as they did and never sitting longer than they absolutely had to.
The gaggle of Endowment girls had gone their separate ways when they hit the bronze gates of their home. Some would be off to lessons, others to enjoy a swim. She might do that herself, later.
For the moment she rested in Endowment Hall, waiting as she had since half past the third bell. The empty sacks were still hanging on the wall where they'd been placed when the messenger had returned them.
She perked up as a woman in orange marched smartly from the back of the Hall to the front and gathered three of the sacks from their hooks. The rest of the canvas bags were left hanging on the wall.
This was why she had been sitting here. Talla waited until the Acolyte II had walked past her. Then, as casually as possible, with a slight sigh as if she were growing bored, she stood up and followed the other woman out through the back of Endowment Hall.
Through the baffles she went, grabbing one of the white towels that lay neatly folded on the shelves by the exit. She found herself in the Tranquil Courtyard with perhaps twenty or thirty women sunning themselves. Here the high walls protected them from both wind and prying eyes. They could sun their naked bodies in warmth, privacy and security.
She remembered her first trip here -- especially how stunned she'd been to see so many naked, large-breasted women. She'd gotten over that. Tanning nude was just what women did when they had the time and inclination.
It wasn't something Talla had found time for as of yet, but she might not have a choice. Thus the towel.
For the moment, she was an Initiate coming to the Offices to check for a night time assignment.
Having had only two assignments before, one picked up by M'lis, the other by Tina, this would be the first time she picked up her own card.
She passed through the wide gateway and paused a moment to let her eyes adjust. She exaggerated a little, pretending to be blinder than she was so that she could keep track of the Acolyte with the message sacks.
The woman had put the message sacks over her shoulders and was walking from desk to desk. Talla couldn't hear what was being said as each whispered exchange of words and scroll was occurring between her and the woman behind each desk.
This wasn't very hopeful. Talla had been hoping that the scrolls would be piled up somewhere and the Acolyte would simply shovel them all in to the sacks. That would have made it a good deal easier to drop a message in. Instead, the scrolls appeared to be handed over one at a time.
At least she now knew what a scroll looked like. It consisted of two circles of wood holding a rolled up piece of parchment between them. The roll was sealed with, as far as she could tell from her sunlight-dazed eyes, a brown wax seal.
She couldn't dawdle at the entryway much longer. Everyone knew that the assignment cards were placed in one of two giant banks of slots under the stairways to the left and right of the door. There was no excuse for wandering around.
Talla frowned. The Acolyte was still making her rounds, desk by desk. Talla wouldn't be able to keep watching her quarry if she also went looking for her assignment slot. But there was nothing for it.
The slots were small -- they had to be, on account of there being something like four thousand women falling under the authority of the Division of Endowment -- and most of them were empty. It was pretty late in the afternoon and most of the women would have retrieved their cards by now.
Talla searched for her slot. It would be down near the ground with the rest of the Virgins and Initiates. She cast a casual glance around the room as she searched for her name among hundreds of others. It was in Temple Script, fortunately, which didn't follow the typical alphabetical order. It let her stall a little longer as she pretended her illiteracy was worse than it really was.
She was surprised to discover, however, that there was a small cloth bag in her slot next to the card. Forgetting her mission, she quickly untied the bag to look inside. There was a small bronze coin inside, embossed with a star. Talla held it up to her face and examined it.
"Bragging, are we?" a girl nearby whispered.
"What?" Talla asked, turning to face the girl.
She was a Virgin in a knee length skirt.
"Penta," the other girl said as she nodded at the coin. "You must have done something special."
The other girl looked at her oddly.
"You've never been paid before?" she asked. "Penta. It's worth five coins."
She emptied out her sack in to her hand and held it out for Talla to see.
"See, three coins," she said. "That's for two weeks of Service."
"So why'd I get five?" Talla asked. "I've only Served twice."
The other shrugged.
"You must have done something special," she repeated with a shrug and walked away, leaving the Offices.
Talla watched the Virgin leave. That had been a girl, a rank below Talla, who nevertheless knew a lot more than Talla did. Sometimes Talla felt as if she had slipped through a crack in the outer wall of the Temple.
With a sigh, she pulled her assignment card out of the slot. Tonight she would be seeing a boy named Shen. He worked in sector three, somewhere out on Form's corner of the city.
Close to Zhair'lo, she thought.
And that thought reminded her of her real purpose here. Where had that Acolyte gone? She wasn't on the floor anywhere ... gods damn it, where -?
She was climbing the stairway directly above Talla's head. Her tiny underwear-like bottoms gave Talla a view of the woman's well-muscled thighs as she mounted the steps.
Well, that just about screwed everything up. There was no excuse for Talla to go up there. The best she could do now was wait outside and hope the Acolyte came back out. With a grimace, she put her money back in to the little pouch it had come in and walked back out of the Offices in to the daylight of the Tranquil square.
She picked a spot close enough to the path that she could see in to the Offices, but far enough to not be obvious about it. It seemed weird to be stripping her clothes off in broad daylight. All of her recent nudity had been under the light of torches, fire pits and most memorably, a half moon.
Well, there was no use being conspicuous. She laid her towel out at an angle to the only pathway through the square. Keeping an eye out for the Acolyte II and her cargo, Talla slipped out of her skirt and underwear in a quick motion. She knelt and, much more gently, untied her top.
She winced as her breasts pulled at her aching chest. That was getting to be a bit too much, but at least it was temporary. She quickly lay down on her stomach. It wasn't the least bit comfortable, leaning on her sensitive breasts that way, but it was the only way to get the viewing angle she wanted without being obvious.
Using her hands for a pillow, she turned her head and squinted in to the darkness of the ground floor of the Offices. This was all for nothing if she couldn't see where those scrolls went. Her plan had been to find a blank scroll, write a message on it, and somehow sneak in to the Offices to get her scroll inserted with the rest.
But there hadn't seemed to be a good spot to drop it.
On top of that, this wouldn't just be a matter of getting a piece of parchment. If she wanted her scroll to look like the rest, she needed the piece of wood that the parchment wrapped around. Then she needed to seal it somehow and drop it in with the rest of the messages.
It was dangerous. She accepted that. But Zhair'lo had to be warned. Plus, she had to see him again. She wasn't sure which was more important, or even if she should have to pick one as her prime motivation.
For now, she would wait, lying here naked, rolling her body from one side to the other, until the orange clad woman with the messages came back.
"Zo'kar!" Zhair'lo called out when he entered the room.
The guard who had escorted him to the briefing room waved him in without further comment. She knew him well enough by now, he supposed.
"Zhair'lo!" the room's only other occupant called back. "You back again, too?"
"You do a job right ..." Zhair'lo trailed off.
It was never really necessary to finish that axiom.
Zo'kar smiled as the two of them clasped wrists and thumped each other's shoulders in greeting.
"I guess I did alright, then," he replied with a shrug. "Not sure why I'm back so soon. Other guys don't -"
"You both did very well," a woman spoke as she marched in to the room. "Have a seat."
She had taken them both by surprise.
"Mistress," they both said with a polite nod.
They'd been told use that term for anyone wearing orange clothing. This one wore yellow, but she'd startled them enough to provoke a response. They took their seats immediately as she passed between them, the sparkling strands of her golden skirt dancing around her taut leg muscles.
She turned to face them, one eyebrow raised almost to the copper circlet about her crown.
"My name is Alli'anya," she said. "Do you know why you're here tonight?"
Zhair'lo had been to two briefings. On the second occasion, a woman in orange had asked him precisely this question -- but only after letting the other three boys go.
"Seal breaking," he said, guessing that Zo'kar must be there for the same reason.
That meant that Nadine hadn't been kidding. There really were a lot of Virgins queued up. Zhair'lo looked at Zo'kar who merely shrugged back in confusion.
"Seal breaking?" he asked.
"Perhaps you can explain it to your friend," Alli'anya said as she coldly eyed Zhair'lo.
Zhair'lo wasn't sure how to take her tone. Either she really meant that he should explain it, or she meant for him to shut up.
"If you wish, Mistress," he said, guardedly.
She waved an invitational hand toward Zo'kar.
"Sometimes Virgins get stuck," Zhair'lo explained carefully. "The first upgrade won't take, so they try a little harder. They get some stronger woman to be the Source and they get some stronger boy -- er, man -- to be the Conduit."
"So we're the stronger men?" Zo'kar asked him.
"That remains to be seen," Alli'anya interrupted. "Zhair'lo. You will be attempting to break through the seal of a Virgin who wishes to join the Discipline of Strength. Zo'kar, you will be attempting a Point upgrade."
Zhair'lo hadn't done Strength yet. Were they getting him to try each Discipline at least once? Was he only doing the three Disciplines of Endowment?
Alli'anya went on talking, refreshing their memories as to proper decorum and behaviour. Zhair'lo remembered Nadine's plea that he rescue the ten girls still left behind. If Zo'kar had the same ability, that would cut through the backlog a lot more quickly, wouldn't it?
"The initial point of contact for Point is, obviously, either of the nipples," Alli'anya was saying as she pointed at tips whose impressions were just visible through her silken sashes. "The contact point for Strength is along the breast bone."
Alli'anya tapped her bare sternum sharply and offered a stiff admonishment to Zhair'lo.
"Do not touch either of the Source's breasts until you have Seized."
Zhair'lo nodded warily. This woman was much colder than the others had been.
"Any questions?" she asked with weary sigh.
Zhair'lo shook his head. This didn't seem to be a good time to bring up any of the things burning in his brain.
"Good," she said and gestured to the door behind her. "Then off with both of you."
She left the room back the way she'd come. Zhair'lo watched her go.
"You get all that?" Zo'kar asked him.
"I guess," Zhair'lo replied. "A lot to expect from us when she's flashing that much cleavage."
Zo'kar let out a laugh.
"I was busy staring at her ass," he volunteered.
Zhair'lo hadn't really meant it as a joke, but he supposed it was funny.
"I wonder if we'll get to do any others," he said.
"You know," Zhair'lo clarified. "Within or, um, any of the Form ones."
"Doesn't matter to me," he said. "Wherever they want me to come, I will."
Zhair'lo nodded. That was fair enough. Zo'kar wasn't required to be curious. Maybe it was enough for him to just enjoy the things that came his way. Zhair'lo wondered if he could ever be satisfied with that.
There was something about erections, Talla decided. Once you've had a couple inside you, the desire to try another and another becomes irresistible.
She never wanted that to change. It didn't even matter who it was. As long as he was hard and ready, he'd do. There was another boy she'd rather be with but he wasn't available. So until she could reach him, the physical desire would only burn hotter.
Shen, at least, looked well rested. He was taken from among stone carvers and brick layers who all seemed like an energetic lot. He was definitely one of the skinny ones, though, among the larger men. And quiet, too. She wasn't sure how to take that.
"Where's your room?" she asked as he approached.
"This way," he said, unable to prevent his eyes from wandering to her cleavage.
"It's okay," she said, trying to make him feel comfortable. There was no reason he should feel awkward about looking at her body. "I'm here to Serve you."
He nodded in nervous understanding. Why was he nervous? He seemed a bit too old to be a virgin.
"Have you been Served before? How old are you?"
He nodded again.
"Nineteen," he said quietly as he led her down a hallway.
It had to be the same situation as Jace. Shen had been Served, but probably not by anybody who looked quite like her. She remembered Zhair'lo staring at her chest when she hadn't had anything worth looking at. That was why she'd chosen Abundance, wasn't it? So she could capture his eyes?
This was more of the same. The question was how to get things rolling. She didn't have a lot of interest in talking. She had an interest in getting Shen inside her.
Shen stopped at the door of his bedroom and waved her in.
"Um - ", he started as she walked past him
"Um?" she asked as she turned around.
"How, er, how old are you?" he asked.
"Eighteen," she said.
That seemed to relax him for a moment, but then he stared down at her breasts in confusion.
Oh! Realization dawned on her.
"You thought I was older?"
"Yeah," he replied, as if it were the obvious assumption to make.
"Well, I'm not," she said. "I just got upgraded a little too much. Have you ever done an upgrade?"
He held up two skinny fingers. "Twice," he said.
"My upgrade got overdone," she explained.
That made it as good a time as any to get things moving. She reached behind her back to unlace her top. She tried to hide a wince as the weight of her breasts was shifted from her shoulders down to her chest.
"See?" she said as she put her hands around his neck.
The two of them looked down at her breasts. "They're big, but the nipples haven't had anything done to them. I've only had the one upgrade."
She rubbed up against him, pelvis to pelvis, backing him up until he was leaning against his bed. She did not feel anything that could indicate arousal. This could be difficult -- or at least challenging. Zhair'lo had been ready straight off. So had Jace. None of the boys she'd handled had given her problems like this.