Season 1, Episode 3
Written by Tof Eklund
Read by Tawn Krakowski
When he was young, Dmer used to go with his Grandpapa to tend the roses. Grandpapa Druska was actually Dmer’s great-grandfather—he had no memories of his father’s father.
“Avthos ah Kathos,” Grandpapa would say as they approached the old ruins where the roses grew. “Avthos ah Kathos,” he would say again as they left.
The roses were small but beautiful, mauve with crimson picotee edges. Dmer would help by pulling weeds while the old man bent close to the climbing vines. Whatever it was he was doing, Grandpapa always managed to prick his thumbs, and Dmer would laugh as his great-grandfather sucked his thumbs on the way back to the cottage.
When Grandpapa died, the trips to the ruins stopped. Dmer wanted to go and pull weeds, but his father said that if he wanted to pull weeds, he could pull weeds out in the fields, where it mattered. Dmer did as he was told, and the years passed.
During his Grandpapa’s time, there had been five or six families in the area, all making do despite the weak soil. Dmer remembered three families, but one had left when he was ten, seeking jobs in a lumber town to the north, and the other had departed in despair after a series of bad harvests a few years later. That had been a very hard time. Dmer could remember the gnawing hunger and the talk of leaving. His brothers had left, one by one, going off to seek their fortunes and promising to return to help the family. They never came back. One of his sisters married a farmer from a slightly more prosperous region, only to die in childbirth two years later. After that, his other sister had disappeared without a trace one night.
His father’s health was broken during the years of famine, and his mother’s heart broken by the loss of her daughters, and so she stopped eating. Dmer had to bury both of them within a fortnight of each other.
After that, he was alone with the hard, dry soil and the horrible conviction that it was all his fault somehow. A minor cleric of the Unmoved God who was passing through told Dmer that it was not his fault, but instead a test of his character, and that perseverance would be rewarded. That made a certain kind of sense, but didn’t help at all. At night, Dmer would lie on his pallet and stare up at the cottage’s ceiling, remembering when it was crammed full of his siblings and his Grandpapa would sleep sitting up in a corner, his always-bare feet dug unto the dirt floor.
Sometimes, Dmer wished he’d died in the famine. Occasionally, he thought about doing himself in with the scythe or by hanging himself from a tree. There were days when he didn’t leave the cottage and neither ate nor drank nor tended the fields, moving only when he had to relieve himself. Still, the earth provided just enough for survival, and Dmer carried on without knowing why.
So, when he found himself at the old ruins one day, he couldn’t have said why he was there. He was surprised to see that the wild rose still lived, though it was wilder and rangier than before and only a few crimson-on-mauve flowers dotted the vines. As he passed through the outer ring of plinths and broken columns, he thought of his long-gone Grandpapa and whispered, “Avthos ah Kathos.”
He felt a strange uneasiness, like dizziness, and then a voice from behind him said, “That is not how they used to say it, but it will do.”
Dmer jumped forward and tripped in the process, landing face-first in the dirt. From behind him came the voice again, sultry and intense, mocking.
“Is that how they prostrate themselves now? Turn to face me, son of man.”
For a moment, Dmer just lay there, paralyzed with fear and shock. Then, slowly, he rolled over and looked up. There above him stood a tall, lanky woman, or something that looked like a woman. She was green, the same shade, he realized, as the pale green stems of the vine, with a fall of darker leaves for hair, and she was completely naked. His voice left him with a squeak even as he felt himself grow hard.
Her beauty was undeniable. She moved toward him with supple grace, and her small but perfectly proportioned breasts swung slightly. Her nipples were flowers, or were colored like flowers, the same shade and pattern as the roses, pale lavender transitioning to bright red at the tips and the outside of the areolae.
He jerked his gaze away with and effort, but then they locked eyes and he froze completely. Crimson lips, mauve eyes, and an expression that was simultaneously bland and threatening.
“What are you?” he croaked.
Surprise crossed that perfect countenance, followed by irritation. “You wear my mark,” she said. “How can you not know who I am?”
She moved like the crack of a whip and was kneeling next to him. Her hands grasped his face, a little roughly, and he realized that in place of fingernails, she had long, shapely thorns. She traced the birthmark on his cheek with one of those sharp thorns, the blotch on his skin that he’d always been ashamed of.
Her face was close to his as she scrutinized him. He wanted to rise up and kiss her, and he wanted to turn and run. Instead he spoke, “Avthos—”
She cut him off with a fingertip placed on his lips. “Shh. If you speak my true name again, I shall have to let you go, and I do not think you want that.” Her expression softened a little as she said this, disdain replaced for a moment with a kind of sad longing.
Then her expression turned hard again.
“I remember you. You came here as a boy, with old Druska. Then you abandoned me. Why did you neglect me?”
Dmer opened his mouth to apologize, but his tongue felt stuck in his throat.
“Do you know what I have lost? Do you know what I have suffered?” she asked. “Everything I once cared for has been taken from me!”
That was familiar. Dmer nodded in agreement.
She stood and pointed toward the center of the ruins, where there was a shallow depression in the earth. Her voice rose as she spoke: “There used to be an olive tree there. Do you know what happened to it?”
He shook his head.
“Well, I do! I know, I remember, and I could do nothing to stop it!” she shouted.
“I’m sorry.” Dmer’s voice cracked as he spoke, but at least his tongue worked again.
She whipped back to face him, something bright and sharp in her gaze as she said, “Are you now? Are you willing to pay for the failure of your line to keep the promises we made in another age?”
She smiled, a thin, cool smile, and gestured. Thorn-covered vines shot forth from the earth and coiled around his limbs. They pulled him to his feet, pricking him through his worn-out clothing, and pressing hard where they fell on his bare skin. It hurt, but in a way that gave him clarity, that made him feel more alive.
The vines pulled his arm up parallel with the ground, and she took it, grasping his wrist in one hand while she raked her thorn-fingernails down its length. She just barely broke his skin, and tiny red droplets appeared in the tracks her nails left in his forearm.
“Aaaah,” she sighed. “It has been too long since I last fed, and Druska was always parsimonious with his offerings.” She bent her head over his arm and licked up the tiny drops of blood with a tongue that was also picotee, it’s purplish length ending in a tip as red as his fresh-drawn blood. As her tongue passed over the scratches, the skin healed, leaving only pink lines and a faint, pleasurable ache.
She stepped back and gestured, and Dmer felt the vines wind their way into his clothes and strip them off, scratching him as they went. His cock stood straight out, and felt harder and fuller than it had ever been. She glanced at it and nodded, expressing marginal approval. A leafless vine, studded with unusually long and sharp-looking thorns, rose from the ground and twined around her hand before separating from the dirt.
He gasped as the vines winding around him tightened, pulling his arms and legs apart until he was bound spread-eagle, his hands above his head and his feet resting on earth that was now soft and loamy rather than hard and dry. She walked in slow circles around him, lashing his arms and legs, his back, chest, and backside with that thorny whip. He shuddered with pain and pleasure at every strike.
Setting down the vine whip, she approached him and began licking at the blood drawn by the lashing. He writhed and moaned; his skin felt like fire and ice. The sensation was unbearable, too much, overwhelming. She alternated between soothing his outraged skin with her fingertips and scoring new lines into his flesh with her sharp nails. Each line drew blood, and each bloody line was licked clean and whole again.
She was licking just below his right nipple and clawing eight parallel lines down his back when the prodigious sensations culminated in an overwhelming throbbing pleasure that momentarily overrode everything else he was feeling. His already overwhelmed brain gave up entirely in that moment, and it was only after he recovered that he realized he’d shot his seed onto her thigh. Dmer looked up at a beautiful green face that might, a moment ago, have been lost in a rapture nearly equal to his own, and saw only contempt. He quailed.
“Listen to me, worm,” she began in a tone that was so hot with feeling that it made every scratch and thorn-prick on his skin ache all over again, “I did not give you permission to spend your seed, now did I?”
“Address me as a goddess. Your ancestors worshipped me for centuries, and so shall you.”
“That’s better. Now, did I give you permission to spend?”
“And did I give you permission to dirty me with your seed?”
Dmer swallowed. “No, goddess.”
“Then you should be punished further for these offenses, should you not?”
The vines binding Dmer loosed their grip and he half-fell into a kneeling position. A new vine rose from the ground to wrap around his still-hard cock, prickling it in a way that made him groan.
If you speak my true name again, I shall have to let you go, she’d said. He thought about it, as he waited for her judgment, sounded out the banishing phrase in his head. Looking up at her, he wanted to see that softer look, the longing he’d seen earlier. Was it there, behind those pale purple eyes? He wasn’t sure, but he held his tongue anyway.
She closed the distance between them until her hips were level with his head, and only a few inches from his face. He found himself staring between her legs, where the stem green of her skin was hidden behind a covering of tiny, dark green leaves.
“Lick me,” she commanded, and straddled him, looping her legs over his shoulders and clamping his head between her thighs. In the moment before the bush between her legs pressed into his upper lip, Dmer caught a glimpse of what was behind those tiny leaves. It was another flower, crimson and mauve, and speckled with dew.
His tongue pressed into her and licked awkwardly, uncertain.
“Simpleton! Craven ingrate!” she rained down abuse on him. “You know nothing! Be grateful I have patience enough to teach you.”
Instructions came with an equal measure of insults.
“Pathetic. Move your tongue left. Your left, fool.”
Dmer did as this woodland goddess ordered, flushing with mixed shame and arousal.
“Faster, you flaccid cretin. Ahh. No, not like that, you disgusting, lecherous imbecile.”
As her imprecations became more imaginative and increasingly interrupted with moans, Dmer grew dizzy with vicarious pleasure, and his cock throbbed inside its pointed cage. The pain only roused him to greater efforts.
“Ghhhnnn! That’s not bad, for a spineless… Ahh!…quivering worm… Ohhh!…keep doing tha-a-Ahh!”
She convulsed, tightening around his tongue and, at the same time, the vine twitched and contracted around his shaft, and he came a second time, his own shaking digging the thorns in deeper, and he swooned.
He recovered to the sensation of wet warmth between his legs, something purely soft and gentle after all of the hard pleasure and lucid pain. He opened his eyes in time to see her tongue pass over one more thorn wound and heal it, before licking the uninjured tip of his softening cock, which give a final jerk as the bright red tip of her tongue caressed it.
She stood, and there was something soft, and still a little sad, in her expression before she looked at him again and her face became a mask. He recognized it now for a mask—anger to hide pain, chill to conceal heat—and his heart went out to her, though he knew he could not say it.
“Did I not tell you that you needed my permission to come?” her voice was a haughty crackle.
“Yes, goddess,” he murmured.
“I must teach you proper manners, but I grow tired. Go, rest, and return to me tomorrow for your punishment.”
“In the morning, look in the vegetable garden to the east of your dwelling. There you will find something to sustain you.” There it was again, a flash of mercy in her face.
“Now…say my name.”
“Avthos ah Kathos.”
© 2012 Copyright Tof Eklund
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