Friday, September 21, 2012

The Goddess of No Return

Athens is hot at this time of year and Meletos slept naked, he said, even though he knew that he would probably be seen by the servants.  But it was not through vanity or some decadent sense of exhibitionism; just that the majority of the household... all of them apart from myself, in fact... had served his family since he was just a child.  if they had not seen him naked by now, they were either blind or blinkered.  In which case, it wouldn’t matter how he dressed.  Or didn’t.

Still, he was touchingly modest when I entered his sleeping quarters every morning, to draw back the nightshades and leave some fruit by his bedside; and even more so on those occasions when his dreams had obviously strayed in the direction of sundry physical matters, and he awoke with an erection you could tether a donkey to.  Blushing crimson, he would apologize profusely, and I would back out of the room with my eyes to the ground, apologizing just as vehemently.  Because that is how we do things in this household, and I for one am glad of it.

I like the young master, and not only because we were both given names that, sometimes, cause strangers to look at us sadly, and wonder what awful pains we must have caused our mothers at birth, in order to be saddled with such pregnant titles.  He is Meletus, a name most people know only for the legend of Timagoras - Meletos was the boy’s lover, a foreigner who Timagoras treated like garbage, but who obeyed his partner’s every word.  Including the instruction to “go take a flying jump....”  And I am Empousa, named for the daughter of the Goddess Hecate and her lesbian consort, the ghoul Mormo.  Who inherited Mormo’s traditional penchant for biting bad children, by raising her target towards young men.  According to the legend, she travels by night, seeking out suitable sleepers, then swoops in to drain them of blood and devour their flesh.

Which, Meletos laughed when first we discussed our misbegotten names, might not be such a bad way to go, and it was only when I was older, and an older man still had taught me to love, that I realized there is more than one way to devour a youth’s flesh.  And more than one life force that you might want to drink.

I cast one more shy and, I hope, unnoticed glance at Meletos’s impressive morning erection, visible even after he draped it with a sheet, then went about the rest of my duties.

If I could see into the future, then perhaps I would know that in millennia to come, world would be that of the Ancient Greeks, my Gods and Goddesses would lie abandoned in the ruins, and every single thing that I consider commonplace would be awesome to your archaeologists.   I tell you this because you need context for the story I am about to relate.  You need to understand that for us, the mortal world and that of our deities are so close that we can reach out to touch one another.  That the spirit world, too, exists as just another plane with which we interact.  Man will lose those abilities, those familiarities; “civilizations” that consider themselves superior to ours will rise in our place, and measure their progress by their loss of awareness.

This is a story from the days before that happened.

This is the story of Empousa.

The fountain where the old men meet is all but deserted at this hour.  The morning’s liaisons are already in full swing, away from the prying eyes of passers’ by, and the afternoon’s trysts have yet to be arranged.  I usually stop here on my way back from the market, to pet the stray dogs and throw them some scraps, and talk with the other women who, like me, are happy to have discovered such a well of tranquility in the heart of the city, even if it is just for a matter of minutes.  

Soon the baying boys will begin to descend, jockeying for position as they primp, preen and pose themselves, all desperate to catch the eye of one of the old man philosophers, artists and authors for whom a fresh, virile youth is just another meal in their daily diet.

It is amusing to watch them; to pick out the men who consider themselves “famous” (even though few of us could name, or even recognize one of them), and go to extreme lengths to disguise their intentions. There is one, who I have heard is a great mathematician, who will loudly declare, in the hope that all will hear him, that the young man with whom he is disappearing home is his very own son, home from wars that we here have never heard about.  All I can say to that is, he has an awful lot of children.

In fact, I was just casting my gaze about for him, for I have to admit that he does have an eye for handsome boys, when I saw a familiar figure striding purposefully towards the fountain.  Meletos.

He had not seen me, and to ensure that he didn’t, I moved myself slightly, positioning myself beside, and behind, one of the tall pillars that surround the fountain.  And I spied on him.  Watched as he joined the preening throng; watched as his own eyes sought a likely looking consort; watched as they linked arms and disappeared together, in the direction of the bath house.  And I thought again of what I had witnessed that morning, that handsome cock of just nineteen summers, rising javelin hard (and almost as long) to greet the new day with such strength and vigor.

I hoped the old man choked on it.

Then smiled to myself, and wished I could, too.

When did I discover the art of laikazo?  Of sucking a cock?  Was it indeed from that older man, who bedded me with promises that he would show me Olympia, and came close to fulfilling his promise?  Was it from the younger one, who worked alongside me as a servant for a year, before moving into the service of another family?

Or was it from my own dreams, pieced together from the bawdy plays I would take to bed to read at night, and from the insinuations I found on vases and bowls?  A maiden kneels before an athlete.  Her mouth is open, her nostrils flare, her eyes are dancing.  What does she see, I would ask myself, that fills her with such wild excitement?  What does she scent, that her senses should suddenly be so alive and electric?  And what does she yearn to taste so badly that, even through the medium of clay and glaze, you can see her mouth watering, watch her tongue lolling?

What indeed?

I imagined the act long before I experienced it; I dreamed of it before I even knew it had a name.  In my dreams, he would be tall, strong, an athlete or a warrior, unbowed by battle, unscarred by his wars.  He would be tattooed, and the ink would wind mysteriously around his limbs and torso, like so many serpents consuming his flesh, and my hands would follow the sway of the snakes, down his arms and up his legs, with my kisses just a few sweet moments behind them.

And where the reptiles ended, and his own serpent began, that is where I would concentrate my kisses, bathing his shaft in the softness of my tongue, whispering words that as yet I could not even imagine (my vocabulary was so unadventurous in those days), but which I knew would come to me when the moment was right.

It was strange.  These imaginings never strayed any further.  It never occurred to me a lover might slide his tongue through the moist groove of my kusthos.  That any place other than my mouth should accept him, should worship him, should satisfy him.  I lived to eat, I knew that even then, and when I made that other connection, between my name and my vocation, I will not lie to you.  I gave my favors freely.

Ah, but that is not something to broadcast around the world in which I live.  We talk freely of love and sex amongst ourselves, for what is there about the act that should be hidden?  But the cunt and the ass are the sole holes of choice.  The mouth is the preserve of the immoral and degraded, the mouth is the one hole that should never be defiled.

I am named for a Goddess, so I talked to my Goddess.

One temple.  In all of Athens, perhaps in all of Greece, I know of just one temple that is dedicated to her, an impoverished shack so far removed from the glories erected to her mother, Hecate.  I had some coin, saved from my last wage, and a dress that I consecrated the evening before, allowing a stranger to press me to the ground behind an apothecary’s stall, and use my mouth as another man might have paid to use my cunt.  His payment, too, I would dedicate to the temple, yet the crone who watched as I entered hallowed ground brushed my offerings aside like they were worthless.

“You are here,” she told me in a voice as old as the bricks around us.  “That is the only offering our Mother requires.”

I looked around.  Short candles guttered in recesses cut into the old stonework; others had burned down long ago, and never been replaced.  Next time I visited, I vowed to myself, my offering would be spent on replacing them.

Empousa waited on the altar.  I had never seen a representation of her; had imagined from the stories that we hear of her that she would be somehow misshapen, inhuman, a monster.  Instead, she was beautiful, a woman of my age, her breasts bared and shapely, her body lithe and athletic.  Below, her sex was clearly defined, with an artist’s eye for the symmetry that nature herself overlooked; above, her hair flowed long and golden, picked out in colors that absorbed the candles’ glow and then reflected it back like a thousand prisms.  Her eyes were clear, soft and seductive.  Her cheekbones rose sharp, her jaw was firm.  But it was her mouth that drew you in, not for any reason that you could ever explain, but because that is how the sculptor intended it.  Your eyes appreciate every contour of her body.  But your attention is consumed by the mouth.

Behind me, I sensed the old woman turning and shuffling almost noiselessly back into the anterior room.  I was surprised; I had expected, because that is what I’d experienced elsewhere, a Priestess to remain with me, to guide me through my first meeting with the Goddess, to shape our encounter so that we both might learn to know one another.

Instead I was alone, and for a moment, reluctant to breathe, for fear of breaking the silence that now pressed against me.  

But my words were there anyway, tumbling over one another in my head, as my hands reached out towards the statue and I placed one finger at that mysterious mouth.  “My mother Empousa...” I began, and I was aware, for the first time, of the incense that was burning, thickly sweet, but fragrant too... a scent I knew well, an aroma I craved.  I dropped to my knees, my arms embracing the Goddess’s form, and the warmth of my body was the heat of hers as I poured out my dreams in the form of new questions, and asked her my questions in the words of fresh dreams.

And Empousa embraced me, with determination and strength... and pride.  With pride in who I am, with pride in what I do, with pride to bear her name abroad, her arts as my art, her heart as my heart.  I stepped back and for the first time, I understood.

A few words with the crone as I left the temple.  Promises made, promises accepted.  She would become my teacher, I would become her successor.  And together... well, maybe we would never raise Empousa from the ranks of what even acolytes call the “minor” deities; would never see her preside over a city of her own in the way that Athena stands over Athens.  

But that is not what she requires.  Empousa is stealth, Empousa is seduction.  Empousa is the Goddess of giving a man what he thinks is the greatest gift of all, and in return being granted every favor that he has.  In the past I had noticed how gentle men become, how helpful and obliging, after I have had them with my mouth, and I never really understood why, because surely I had just as much enjoyment as they - surely that was thanks enough?

But no.  I could be the happiest woman in the world, but the man I have satisfied will be happier still.  And now it’s only natural that he should want to balance the scales.

Empousa is the Goddess of that balancing.  Devouring flesh and draining blood, the Goddess of No Return.

And I am her servant.  I am her Priestess.

Morning came and Meletos awoke, slowly, unwillingly, from what he dreamed was a dream, but one that was not ready to end.  I felt him stir as I tongued his flesh in my mouth; heard the moan of exquisite pleasure push the startled question away from his lips; and as his hand fell onto my head as though to make sure I was not a figment of hid mind, so my hand took it and squeezed it tight, as my jaw tightened around his throbbing cock.

My questions of the day before had already been answered by the gossip of the servants.  In order to progress in the field of his ambitions, Meletos needed to attract a wealthy sponsor to guide him.  A sponsor who would also become his male lover.  His erastes.  And whose guidance would be all encompassing, spiritual, intellectual, financial... and physical.  In return, Meletos would become his eromenos, a vessel that should overflow with all that his sponsor saw fit to fill him.  Spiritually, intellectually, financially. and physically.  Yesterday was the first time they had met, introduced by Meletos’s father who knew the older man from past business dealings, and the family hoped the relationship would prosper and grow.

For me... well, I had all the growth I could dream of, a cock that entered my mouth so soft, small and coiled, and had flowered and blossomed, stretched out and raised up, so strong I had to grip it with one tight and tiny fist just to keep it from springing out of my grasp altogether.  And its owner, Meletos, between whose legs I crouched, was moaning and moving his hips to my rhythm, his cock pulsing and pulsating as I sucked at his soul through that miraculous shaft.

He was nearing his climax, and my fist stroked him faster; I felt him throw an arm across his mouth, to drown out the cries that he could not prevent, and his whole body jerked as his orgasm spilled, into my mouth to be savored then swallowed, or dripped from my lips to be tasted anew.  

I sucked as he softened, I sucked till he stopped me, and when I kissed with lips that were flavored with him, I could see in his eyes that the Goddess was with us, that blessings had been given and were about to be received.

Meletos asked me a question.  I answered it softly.  He made me an offer.  I accepted it gratefully.  And the day that we were married, the scion of minor nobility and the peasant-born Priestess, resplendent in the glorious temple that his newly-acquired riches caused to rise from the rubble of that original shack, his dedication to Empousa was no less impassioned than mine.  

For he was her acolyte and her mouthpiece as well, and the old moneychanger smiling at the back of the room had proved as grateful a recipient of the Goddess’s gifts as any man I have ever known.  

There truly would be no return.

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