Daughter of Egypt, Part Three

Reading heiroglyphics is a fascinating chore.  Each glyph is actually made up of several symbols, much like English sentences are made from words.  If you can't remember the meaning of each symbol , then you are always rereading, and trying to fill in the gaps between known glyphs.

My parents had raised me on the language of Egypt, and the ancient written tongue was not neglected.  I was by no means an expert, but I could decipher most texts with only minor problems.

Mandisa made sure I had the translations as well, just in case, and then left me to the scrolls on the religion of the god Bes.

I skimmed through most of them, that merely went over the basics of how Bes came into being.  These were the same legends I'd heard and read before.  The things Bes represented had changed many times over the centuries, and the scrolls carefully recorded each manifestation of the god.  From divine protectorate to guardian of pregnant women, Bes had changed as the needs of his followers evolved.  When the Greeks and Romans entered Egypt, Bes became a god of wine, similar to Dionysus.

The oldest scroll, an ancient piece of papyrus, however, contained a part of the history that I had never read.  It spoke of Bes as a sexual entity, with desires of the flesh.  He was described as the giver of both life, and pleasure. There were pictures drawn of Bes in sexual poses with both men and women.

This papyrus also said that of all the gods, only Bes would never sleep.

It was interesting, but not what I was currently looking for.  I wanted to know what the rites were, what would happen this evening.  Finally, I found it, but the writing was unclear, and in frustration I searched for it in the translations.

After thumbing through the handwritten manuscripts that Mandisa had left, I finally found a small section in the back of one book.  It described a ceremony called the Rite of the New Wine.

As the gods give gifts in the bounty of the earth, so should we honor them with the first of that bounty.  Thus, the first bottle of the new wine belongs to Bes, so that he may be bless us with his wisdom.

This wine is to be offered to Bes at the first full moon after the harvest.  Let us come together in celebration for the pleasure of the god.

The description of the ritual itself involved the lighting of candles, and incense.  The bottle of wine was to be poured into the statue of the god, so that he may taste the fruit of his gift.  After that, several more bottles were to be opened, and poured into a great vat of some kind for the blessing of Bes.  Supposedly, the god would do this in person, within the sanctuary in the very center of the temple.  After the blessing, the wine would be brought out of the inner sanctum, and shared among all the celebrants.  After that, the wine would  allow the worshipers of Bes to follow divine desire and release the bindings of mortality, until the next sunrise.

During this time, couples who wished for a blessing of fertility from the god would go into the sanctuary where Bes, or a representative of Bes, would bless the womb of the woman, making her fertile.  Young men and women just entering their adulthood would be taken in and cleansed, before being allowed to partake of the blessed wine.

To me, it still sounded like a large festival, that would eventually descend into drunken sexual revelry.  A party is a party after all, even if it is for the honor of a god.

When my curiosity had been satisfied, I left the library in search of Shayt.  I figured that she had to be back by now, and I had questions I wanted to ask.

Mandisa found me first though.

"Come, it's time for lunch.  And then you will join me for the cleansing."

"The what?"

"The cleansing.  It's just a bath, but it's very important if you're to join us tonight."

I shook my head.  "I won't be joining in the ritual.  I'll be there, but Shayt and Mishra have told me I shouldn't participate."

She stopped tugging at my arm and looked at me.  "But why not?"

"I don't know.  Shayt said it was just better if I didn't, and Mishra said it was -- overwhelming."

Her dark head shook silently.  "I don't really understand, but if that is what the princess desires, you must obey."


She tugged on my arm again.  "But come join me for lunch and a bath anyway.  We can talk more."

I shrugged and nodded.  I could find Shayt later.

The bath Mandisa was talking about was in a large communal bathing hall, where all the priestesses came for their ritual cleansings.  The room was heated by two great furnaces under the floor. Along the walls were large ceramic baths lined with stone.  In the center of the room was a large table laid out with several large buckets, and stacks of towels.

Mandisa chose a corner tub for us, and left me to watch while it filled.  She returned with a handful of flower petals, two fluffy towels, and a small cup of white crystals, which she poured into the water.  After mixing it with her hand, she added the petals, and smiled at me.



The water was warm, coming from a heated reservoir just outside the bath hall.  I sank into it with pleasure.

"What are the petals for?"

"Perfume, to please Bes."

"And the crystals?"

"Salt, to aid in the ritual this evening."

"I see."

We stretched out side by side, relaxing against the side of the tub.  Unlike the one Shayt and I had used last night, this one was wider than it was long, though it was still too long for me to touch the other side with my feet.

Mandisa sat with her head against the edge, her eyes closed.  I didn't know if she was in meditation or not, so I didn't speak.

"You can ask, you know."


She raised her head and looked at me.  "You can ask. About the celebration tonight."

"Okay." I fingered a floating flower petal.  "Have you ever been in the inner sanctum?"

"You mean during a festival? No.  Mishra presides there, along with the high priest, Achmed.  You'll get to meet him tonight."

"So, you don't know what happens inside the little room?"

"Sure I do.  The first bottle is offered to Bes, and then he blesses the wine. After that, there are couples to be blessed, and cleansings and initiations to be held."


"Sure.  I went through it when I first became a priestess.  It's the only time I was ever allowed into the heart of the temple."

"What happens during an initiation?"

She shrugged. "A new priest or priestess is greeted by the god, and must answer the questions of Bes.  If you answer correctly, you are accepted, and will be given the mark of Bes." Leaning forward, she pointed to a mark on her left shoulder blade. The face of a man with the mane of a lion had been tattooed in indigo.

"And that's done in the inner sanctum during a festival?"

"No. Just the test, and the outline of the mark.  The actual tattoo is done later.  It takes a great deal more time."

I shook my head.  "Christianity may have its faults, but at least it doesn't require you to mark up your body."

"No.  It removes the body from worship, saying that only the soul is worth saving. Right?"

"Well --" I had to think about that.  In a way, she was right.

"How sad."

"And what does Bes say about the division between the body and the soul?"

"Bes teaches us that the body is as important as the spirit.  Just as we create statues, vessels for the gods to live in, so did the gods create the human body, so that mortal souls could live.  They made our bodies fallible so that we would learn lessons of humility.  Without the trials of the flesh, we could never learn the pleasures of the spirit. But, not all of our earthly existence is a trial, and Bes tells us to celebrate ourselves, and our creation, along with the gods who created us."

It was a very interesting philosophy.

"So, gods created mortals so that mortals could learn humility.  We die when we've learned that lesson?"

"That, and whatever else we need to learn in this life.  And then we cross back into the spirit world."

"And go where? To the underworld, the land of Osiris?"

"Some, yes.  Others will return to this earth, either to learn new lessons, or," she shrugged, "relearn those that they forget."


"Yes.  Souls are not perfect, and some must relearn humility over and over again."

I snorted.  "If that's true, I know several people who will come back to earth for the rest of eternity."

She laughed.

The room became quiet suddenly, and as I looked up I saw women rising from their baths only to bow their heads.  Mandisa rose as well, and I looked up at her in question.

"The princess is here," she whispered.

Sure enough, there she was, covered in a white robe, her long black hair standing out against the pale colors in the room.

"Please, continue with your baths."

Activity resumed, and voices rose again, though at a much softer level.

Shayt noticed me, and raised an eyebrow.  Changing direction, she maneuvered around the towel table and came up to our tub.

"Enjoying yourself?"

"Absolutely.  Mandisa has been explaining the teachings of Bes."

She smiled at the young woman, who blushed.

"Looking to make a convert, Mandisa?"

"No, Princess.  Just... talking." For a moment she looked concerned.  "I hope that was all right, I didn't think --"

Shayt waved a hand.  "It's fine.  Daryl is a very intelligent woman, and probably curious as hell.  Besides, the worship of Bes is the only part of the ancient religion which survives intact to this day.  It's always a good idea to pass the knowledge and traditions along."

Mandisa's blush deepened, and she gave Shayt a shy smile.  "Thank you, Princess."

Rolling her eyes, the Princess answered, "Please, don't call me that.  It's bad enough when it comes from your sister, I don't need you doing it too."

I couldn't resist. "Just think, Shayt, if we hang around here much longer I might start calling you princess."

"You do and I'll make you walk back to Cairo."

I chuckled.

"So," she continued, "what's with the ritual bath?  I thought it was agreed that you wouldn't be taking part."

"I'm not.  Just keeping Mandisa company."

She nodded.  "Good.  Well, I'm off for my own cleansing.  Can I leave you with Mandisa until this evening?"

"Sure.  Will you be watching the ceremony with me?"

"No.  As a representative of Bes, I'll have to be in the inner sanctum, to speak to the god.  We'll talk after dinner in our room, before the festivities begin.  All right?"


Shayt squeezed my shoulder, and gave Mandisa a smile that made the young woman blush again.  Then she left in search of her own bathtub.

She found it just down the wall directly in our line of sight.  We both watched quietly when the robe slipped from her shoulders to pool at her ankles.  As long legs stepped over the sides of the tub, I heard Mandisa give a slight gasp.  When I looked at her, she was biting her lip.  The blush was still strong on her delicate features.

"Beautiful, isn't she?"

Mandisa nodded.  "Sometimes I wish I was as lucky as my sister."

"In what way?"

"That I would get to sleep with the Princess this evening."

I nearly choked on my tongue. "What?"

She smiled. "Well, you know what happens after drinking the blessed wine. The princess has in the past attended festivals, and she always stays with us for the first hour or so, but after that, as the energy intensifies, she usually slips away with Mishra.  The two of them aren't seen until morning, when they come out of the inner sanctum togehter." Mandisa sighed.  "One day I'd like to be High Priestess.  Then perhaps Ashayt Hathor Idut Kemshet, daughter of Pharaoh, will be my lover."

For some reason, I was wishing very hard that would never happen.

And as I watched Shayt raise her arms and begin washing, I was also wishing that the bath was a much cooler temperature.

During dinner, which was simply bread and fruit, Mishra informed me there would be a set of clothes waiting for me in Shayt's suite.  I excused myself to go and change.  Mandisa squeezed my hand and told me she'd look for me before the ceremony started.

Then she leaned forward and whispered, "If you change your mind and decide to participate, let me know.  I'd like to be your guide."

I smiled and thanked her.

When I got to the room there was a simple white gown laid out on the divan.  I picked it up, marveling at the feel of the silk in my hands. A noise behind me made me turn, and I nearly gasped.

The woman standing in the bedroom doorway was not the one I knew as Shayt.  This was the Princess of the Two Lands, Pharaoh's Daughter, and I barely stopped myself from bowing in awe.

Her hair was pulled and gathered in a silver clasp at the back of her neck.  Her skin gleamed darkly against the sleeveless white gown which clung to her.  Just above the neckline, which scooped down to reveal the tops of two perfect breasts, lay a medallion dangling from a gold chain that circled her throat.   When the candle light struck her at just the right angle, the diaphanous cloth seemed to disappear and her body, as it was outlined through the material, spoke of carnal delights the likes of which mortals had never known.

I stood silent for several moments as she completed the ensemble with silver guantlets.  Then she looked up at me and smiled.

"Do you like what you see?"

I swallowed and nodded.

"Good.  Then I suppose I am presentable enough for tonight."  She stepped into a pair of sandals that waited at the bedroom door.

"Is your gown all right?  Does it fit well?"

I could say nothing, as the blood from my head was still circulating in other distinctive places.

Her eyes narrowed.  "Daryl?"

When she spoke my name a second time, I shook myself, and turned away.

"It's -- um -- very nice.  I like silk."

Out of the corner of my eye I could see her take a step towards me, and I tensed.  If she touched me, I wouldn't be responsible for my actions.

But she stopped, and sighed, then turned away.  "You can use the bedroom to change, if you like.  I had Mishra also bring up some sandals for you."

"Thank you --"  I almost said Princess, but not quite.

She raised an eyebrow, though, and I think she heard my unspoken word. "Better hurry, Daryl. The ceremony begins in just a half hour."

Picking up the dress, I entered the bedroom.

It took me several moments to figure out how to put on my new clothing. The robe I had been given wrapped around my body, and was fastened with two ties, one on the inside, and one on the outside.  I got the inside fastened, and was reaching for the second, when I heard the door open.

"Daryl? Are you almost ready?"

"Just about." I pulled on the ends of the knot and turned to face her.  "How do I look?"

One eyebrow disappeared into her hairline, and the corners of her mouth twisted upwards.  "Beautiful."

I blushed again. "Yeah, right." Mumbling about flattering princesses, I gave my gown one last twitch and walked over to slip into the sandals.

Shayt sat down on the bed. "Listen, Daryl.  I wanted to talk to you a little bit about what's going to happen tonight."

"Why?  I read all about it in the library this morning."

The dark head shook.  "It's not the same.  That can tell you the ritual.  It can't give you the experience."

"Which is why I'm going, isn't it?"

She frowned.  "Well, yes, I suppose. But there are some things you need to know."

"Like the fact that you'll disappear off with Mishra?  Mandisa told me. She said the two of you would sleep with each other in the inner sanctum."

Blue eyes opened wide for a moment, then grew shuttered.  "Yes, I've spent many festival evenings with Mishra, waiting for the blood rush from the wine to ease.  Sometimes it's easier to do that with one person than a hundred.  But, outside of the festival, Mishra has never been my lover."

I shrugged.  "Okay.  So, what else did you explain about tonight?"

"You mustn't drink the wine.  Take a pitcher of fruit juice, or water, but you must not drink the wine after it is blessed."

I frowned.  "Well, the sharing of the wine is part of the ritual, and I'm not going to be part of the ritual, so I suppose that's appropriate.  But I don't really understand the concern."

"Look," she said as she leaned forward.  "The dates in this area have a narcotic effect all on their own.  Fermented in the wine, it's even more potent.  But, combine that with the drug that is the blessing from Bes, and you have more than an aphrodisiac."

It was my turn to raise an eyebrow.  "Uhuh.  So, that's why they mix the wine in a vat, instead of just saying a blessing over the bottles."

She smiled.  "Right."

I considered for a moment.  "What does it feel like? What does it do?"

Shayt dropped her eyes and stared at the floor near my feet. "It is . . . like floating.  Like drumming.  Like . . . being a part of everything, and wanting to be a part of everyone.  And when the heat fills your veins, you don't think about who is in your arms.  You just know they're there."

I couldn't name the emotion as it fluttered across her face.  It lit her eyes up, though, and turned them a deeper blue.  As Shayt continued to stare at the floor, her breathing seemed to increase.  I wanted to know what she was seeing in her mind.

But the moment ended, and she stood quickly from the bed.

"Well.  Now you know why you shouldn't drink the wine. Are you ready?"


I followed her from the bedroom, out of the suite, and down the stairs.

People had begun gathering for the rites in the great hall.  I estimated that the number of participants, all garbed in white robes, had to be well over fifty, with more than two-thirds of them female.  I hadn't known there were so many people in the temple, and I told this to Shayt.

"Oh, not all of them live here.  Many live and work in Alexandria, and only share in the worship.  A couple have just arrived, having taken today's train from Cairo."

"So, they're not all priests and priestesses."

"No.  The only ones allowed to participate in the actual rites are the devotees of Bes.  The wine, though, will be shared among everyone who wishes to join the celebration."

As we walked through the crowd, I noticed that every eye was pinned to my companion.  The sea of faces parted easily as we walked towards the small room in the center of the great temple.

The heart of the temple, as the inner sanctum was sometimes referred to, was a round room, the walls of which were painted, at least on the outside, with colorful murals showing the process of wine production.  Portraits of Bes, with his lion's mane, were stationed in four places in the upper part of the wall.

Shayt and I met Mishra and Mandisa near the entrance to the inner sanctum.  Like everyone else, they were dressed in white robes, though Mandisa wore a simple cotton gown, while Mishra's shimmered in the lights of the torches.

"I have an assignment for you, Mandi," said Shayt. The young woman blushed again, turning even redder at the shortening of her name. "I'd like you to look after Daryl until the wine is passed out.  Make sure she has a comfortable spot where she can watch, but won't be disturbed. Get her a pitcher of fruit juice, hm?"

The princess turned to me with serious eyes.  "There may come a point when you want to leave.  Feel free to do so.  Just remember, don't drink the wine."

I nodded.

Mandisa took my arm, looking at Shayt with a solemn expression.  "I'll take care of her, Princess."

Shayt smiled at her, and then turned to Mishra.  The two of them began to converse in low tones, and Mandisa led me away from them.

"They'll have things to talk about; how many people are getting married, and whether or not there are cleansings, or initiations."

"Are there any?"

"Yes, there are.  There always are, and since the princess is here, she will preside over them."

I followed her to the back wall of the hall, where there was a raised dais with stone benches. It was directly across from the door to the sanctuary.

"You should be fine here.  You'll be able to see everything, especially when the rites inside are finished, and the princess emerges." She leaned closer to me. "I'm going to try and stay near the door.  Maybe then I'll have a chance to catch her eye." She winked at me, and then moved off quickly, ducking through the crowd with light steps.

She was soon back, bearing a cold pitcher of juice and a mug.  "Here you are.  It will get hot in here, with the lit torches and dancing bodies."

"Not to mention the other activities."  We grinned at each other.

Suddenly the sound of a gong boomed through the room.

"That's the signal for the devotees to take their places.  I have to join the circle."

Mandisa turned to go as the booming continued.  Then she turned back and said, "Wish me luck."

I smiled and nodded, but couldn't help thinking that I really didn't want her to catch Shayt's eye.

Around the small room in the center of the hall, the priests and priestesses gathered in a circle.  The booming stopped, and for a moment there was almost absolute silence.  I saw Shayt and Mishra standing next to the door that led into the sanctuary.  The door began to open outwards, and the princess turned and entered, followed by the priestess and several others.

Then, soft and low, I could hear the sound of a stringed instrument being played. Craning my neck a little, I could see that there was a group of musicians on the other side of the room, tucked away into a corner.  The string instrument I heard was a buzuq, which is long necked lute.  As I watched, a young man lifted a reed flute called a nay and began to play a haunting melody, winding it around the tune being strummed on the buzuq.  Other instruments joined in, including a mizmar, with is a type of oboe, and a mijwiz, the double clarinet.

Incense was lit, and the smoke from it mixed with the torches, creating a soft haze throughout the room. The scent was unlike any I'd ever known, spicy, yet sweet.  As I breathed it in, I could taste it in my throat and on my tongue.  I washed it away with the fruit juice, only to have  it once more fill my senses.

The devotees gathered in the circle began to dance to the music, moving slowly in synchronic patterns.  One priest began a chanted hymn in praise of Bes, and the others picked it up, repeating his lines as they moved.  The effect of the music and the dance was at once stimulating and hypnotic.

The dancing must have continued for close to an hour, with the only movement coming from the dancers.  The same plaintive notes came time and time again, till finally the flute fell silent, and the strumming stopped.  The dancers froze in position, backs arched and arms outstretched in supplication to their god.  Then the door to the sanctuary opened, and the devotees relaxed, bowing their heads.

Two young men exited the sanctuary, carrying a very large ceramic vessel between them, taking slow steps as they crossed the floor.  Slowly they made their way to a small carved stone table.  Lifting the vat, they gently placed it on the table, slipping it into well worn grooves.  Then they backed away from the table, making room for Mishra and Shayt to approach.

Mishra raised her hand and the room once again fell into an eerie silence.

"The god has spoken.  He has accepted our offering, and blessed us, granting us protection and assistance in the year to come." A small cheer was raised, which Mishra quickly hushed.  "We are lucky tonight to not only receive the gifts of Bes, but to have the company of our beloved princess, Ashayt Hathor Idut Kemshet, daughter of Pharaoh." She raised a hand, and I saw Shayt bow to her in acknowledgment. "It was she who stood in the place of the god, and performed the blessing of the new wine, acting as the hand of Bes come to earth." This time it was Mishra who bowed before Shayt.

"Here me, then, oh children of Bes.  This night is declared a celebration.  Drink, dance, revel in the gifts our god has given us.  Do all this in honor of Bes."

A tray was brought forth, with two wine goblets perched gently on it.  Mishra took them both, and passed one to Shayt who stepped up beside her.  Together they raised their glasses, and drank.

There was a cheer at that, and the circle of devotees broke as the other celebrants joined in.  Two priestesses climbed onto the table and began filling mugs with the wine from the vat.  Some of these were placed on trays and carried into the crowd, but most of the cups were handed directly to waiting hands.

Music began to fill the room again.  Along with the reeds and the strings, several heavy drums began to beat.  More incense was added to that already smouldering. Dancing began, but it wasn't like the earlier synchronized movements.  Instead, this was a dance that reeked of sensuality. The dancers moved in time with the music and with each other. They were never still, and their bodies swung in sinuous patterns, hypnotic in many ways. Watching them sway, I could feel something stirring inside me. I wanted to join them, and I found myself swaying even as I sat.

Someone approached me and offered me a glass of the wine blessed by the god. I was about to decline when I saw Mandisa approach Shayt.  Without thinking, I took the glass, setting it on the stone bench next to me.

I hadn't really thought about whether or not the wine would have the power to affect Shayt, until I'd asked her what it felt like.  Her words and strange expression told me that the combination of drugs and alcohol would indeed make her feel something.  That was obvious now in the way she moved. There was a feverish look on her cheeks that I could see even from my seat.  Those crystal orbs and the smile she offered to people around her were to me the most sensuous thing in the room.

Shayt allowed Mandisa and another young priestess to draw her forward into the dancing, and I watched, absently playing with the glass I'd taken from the offered tray. The music picked up for a moment, then slowed again. Shayt's hips moved as if they controlled the tempo, swaying back and forth as her arms rose above her head. One woman moved behind her, and the other stood in front. Together they made one moving, writhing creature, exuding an aura that was both alluring, and dangerous.

Jealousy surged through me, and my muscles tightened.  Shayt leaved over and kissed Mandisa full on the mouth.  I raised the glass and drank.

Within moments I could feel the power of the blessed wine as it sank into my veins. The music wasn't just sound anymore. It was like a snake, winding around me, drawing me up and into the dance. The incense that filled the air also filled my lungs, and I could feel it carressing me, both inside and out. The combination of the drugged wine, the powerful scent and the rythm of the drums was enough to overwhelm my senses.

I was moving, without knowing it. Someone took my hand and led me further into the dancers, and I went willingly. Another person came up behind me, and by the feel of the body, I knew it was a man. He drew me back against him, and I went. His hips moved with mine, and his hand snuck around to my stomach as he pressed me against him. I didn't care.

Then someone stepped in front of me, and Shayt was blocked from my view. I frowned, and tried to step forward. The hand against my stomach held me back. Someone leaned forward to kiss me, and I cried out angrily. I wanted to see Shayt. The grasping hands were too restraining, and I started pushing against them angrily.

I must have been yelling, but I don't remember it. I only remember Mishra's voice, telling those around me to let go. I stumbled forward, only to be caught once again by an arm around my waist. I was pulled backwards and held tight, but this time I didn't fight. I could hear Shayt whispering in my ear.

"Daryl, stop!  Easy, love, easy." I felt her mouth kiss my throat. "Let me guide you, Daryl.  Just relax, and let me take you...."

She pulled the two of us away from the dancers, closer to the musicians. The music grew louder, and I leaned into her, letting her support my weight with her body. Tilting my head back as far as I could, I saw those beautiful eyes as they gazed at me. There was a hunger in them, and I felt my own appetite grow in response.

Shayt leaned down and kissed me. At first it was gentle, but then her lips became hard, demanding. She twisted me within her grasp, turning me until I faced her, never releasing my lips. My arms slid around her neck, and my hips pressed into hers. I felt her bend slightly, and then her arm was under my knees and I was being carried, through the crowd of dancers and into the small room used for the rites of Bes, the god of pleasure. It was the same place she'd disappeared to earlier.

I didn't think it was possible, but the music was even louder inside the room. Shayt set me down on a padded dais, and used her hands to pull open my robe. Her hands burned as they carressed my back, reminding me of the desert sands in the way they were never still, and always hot. Her mouth was moist, and filled with heat, and the taste of the wine.

She was more intoxicating than any drug could be, and I held on tightly, drinking from her mouth even as my hands wandered inside the gown, finding skin as smooth as silk.

Almost by accident I found the clasp holding the material to her body, and with a twist it was gone. Pulling away from me she pushed the gown from her body, and then reached for the tie at my side.  A strong tug, and moments later my robe had disappeared as well, letting me feel the heat of her body as she pulled me tightly against her.

Instead of my lips, she kissed my jaw, then my neck, and the sensitive area behind my ear. I twisted in her grasp, trying to get my lips back on her skin. I cried out in frustration, needing to taste her again.  Even so, the denial excited me further, and I concentrated instead on covering her body with my hands.

I had thought her invulnerable, and expected skin like stone.  Instead, it was firm, but yielding. I dragged my nails across her, wondering if she felt it.  A flinch told me she did, and a soft groan of pleasure reached my ears.  Shayt was soft in most places, but rough in others, and I explored the angles and planes that had been part of my dreams the night before. I think my last clear thought was that the reality surrounding me was beyond all imagining.

She kept her hands busy, always moving, teasing, pinching, stroking. The scent of the incense clung to her body and her skin. Her mouth was hot, and drew me deeper into the web of arousal, till I was crying and begging her for something I couldn't name.

The first touch of her mouth on my breasts made me sigh with desire. As she raked her tongue repeatedly across my nipples, her hand found another, more intimate place, and her caresses made my hips surge forward against her, as I gripped her shoulders and back with all my strength.

Her touches grew more insistent, and her mouth became wild upon me. Breathing raggedly, she moved away from my breasts and once again took my lips with hers. She wrapped one arm around my waist and pulled me even closer, forcing my thighs to open wider.

When she entered me I cried out. There was a flash of pain that ran through my blood like a flame. I jerked away from her mouth, gasping for air. She whispered in my ear, holding me close, her fingers within me, gently moving, soothing, burning.

"Easy, Daryl, be easy.  It's me inside you, loving you. Feel the flames, and just let go...."

I gripped her shoulders with one arm and stroked her cheek with the other hand. Needing to see her, I opened my eyes, finding crystal blue staring back at me. Her gaze was enough to spread the fire within me again, and the next time she moved her hand, I moved with her, feeling the sensation within my body.

Soon, she was thrusting forward, pushing deeper into me with every movement, and I was begging her again, moving closer and closer to something I couldn't begin to understand. There was a pressure building, one which only she could stop, and I hung on to her for fear of falling into the maelstrom of sensation and never finding my way out.

When she bit into my throat, I convulsed, every muscle in my body tightening in spasms as I screamed. I was no longer falling, instead the maelstrom had grown, and swallowed me whole. It lasted, in my mind, for hours, days, months, and when it was over, I was shaking and crying. Shayt's hands held me up, and she whispered softly in my ear, sometimes using words, then humming softly.

I relaxed into her arms, my head falling forward onto her shoulder. There was no tension in any of my muscles, and I couldn't have moved if I wanted to. I knew only that Shayt was there with me, and I needed nothing else in my world.

With her voice in my ear, and her eyes burning in my mind, I felt my eyes slip closed, and I sank into a delicious oblivion.

The rest of that night is mostly a blur in my memory.  I remember waking, still held tightly in Shayt's arms, her mouth on my throat.  The pounding rhythm was still driving me along, and I threaded my hands in her hair as I pulled her lips to mine.  After that, there was skin, and sweat, and the taste of sweet flesh, as we joined each other in the flames time and time again. I remember rising higher and higher, and each time I thought I had to come down, Shayt would start a new pattern of seduction, and desire would lift me again, until there was nothing left but sensation.

Sleep finally came, finding us locked together, me on top of her, with her hands clasped tightly against my back.

And as we slept, I dreamed.

Continued in Part Four

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