I wish to retain all rights to this story. However, I am delighted to grant permission to any person to publish this story as long as there is no charge to the reader and as long as no changes are made to the story.

Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Chapter 12 – Rufus

“…for the vast majority of ancient historians, for a man to have not had a youth for a lover presented a deficiency in character.” Wikipedia

The Oracle was frustrated. For two nights and days, she had not only been without Jeet, but she had been without the other eunuchs as well. They were not only her attendants; they were her companions. She wanted to simply go downstairs and talk to them; be with them. But no. “Leave them alone,” Jarus had insisted. “The athletes will feel awkward if you are around. So stay in your chambers.”

She had, but she wasn’t happy.

After spying on the eunuchs and athletes the first night, the Oracle and Rem returned to the rafters the next morning and watched the athletes and eunuchs eat their morning meal, still naked from the night before. After the meal, the eunuchs cleared the large table in the middle of the shrine hall floor and told the athletes to stretch out across it.

Rem and the Oracle watched with interest as the six, superbly built youths lay down onto the table and the eunuchs crawled over their prone forms to oil their bodies, give them rubdowns, and stretch their limbs. They watched the eunuchs yield when the aroused athletes wanted sex. They watched the six, copulating couples, scattered over the table and on the cushions, and then the Oracle and Rem returned to her chamber where they lay down on their sides and sucked each other’s erections until they were well-drained.

Before the midday meal, Jarus sent two of the younger priestesses to keep the Oracle company. They played hounds and jackals while the priestesses plied the Oracle with questions about the eunuchs. When they left, the Oracle played with Jeet’s harp and tried to keep her mind off her eunuchs. She made Rem stay beside her, but that didn’t prove difficult since they’d had sex together twice and he was hoping for more.

With the evening meal, they heard from shrine servants about the eunuchs’ afternoon – that naked behind the shrine, the athletes had a casual workout and the eunuchs practiced acrobatics; that they had races with the eunuchs riding the backs of the athletes; that afterward the eunuchs and athletes washed together in the bathhouse for over two hours.

That evening, Rem and the Oracle watched from the rafters once more. The large table was disassembled into its smaller component tables and pushed back from the middle of the shrine floor. The eunuchs danced on the cleared floor for the athletes. Then they brought pallets out from the booths and placed them together, and the athletes wrestled for the eunuchs’ enjoyment, their strong, naked bodies straining against each other. Then the athletes wrestled the eunuchs, and the wrestling became love making.

The Oracle and Rem returned to her chamber, stripped, and lay down together. They fondled each other, and Rem wanted to do more kissing. They did, and while they did, Rem probed with his finger at the Oracle’s vagina. The Oracle held his erection, stiff like a long, little stick – a stick covered with warm skin. The way they lay, that stick curved up from between his thin legs close to her labia… she brushed the soft, warm skin of it against her own soft skin, and it was all she could do to refuse him when he wanted to put it inside her. “Only Jeet goes there,” she told him.

The priestesses returned the next morning and by the time they left, the athletes and eunuchs had gone once more behind the shrine to work out. They stayed there through most of the afternoon, and then went to the bathhouse where they stayed for close to two hours once again.

“Oracle,” one of the shrine servants called from outside her door.

“Come,” she called out.

The servant – one of the Nubians – came into the room and bowed. He repeated, word for word, what he had been instructed to say. “The Champions of Kaleh invite you to join them at table tonight and sup with them.”

The Oracle sat up, turning excitedly to Rem. “I have to bathe first,” she said. “And dress.” She turned back at the servant. “Tell them yes! I’ll be down in a couple of hours.”

The servant bowed out.

“It has to be my good gown, Rem,” she told the boy, rising to her feet. “And my best jewelry.”

“Perfect! Perfect!” Rallot muttered enthusiastically. Jarus had instructed him to dress the boys for sex, and for this last night with the athletes, Rallot felt he had outdone himself. He looked the young eunuchs over as the boys lightly oiled one another’s bodies.

Rallot had dressed them in soft, leather breechcloths that were so small they were little more than a dark patch between the boys’ legs. Fawning delightedly over the boys with long, boney fingers, he had fastened the breechcloths on them himself; chuckling as he pulled their long penises back between their legs before carefully tying the breechcloths on with leather strands. He made sure that each one came only high enough in front to conceal the penis and no more.

In addition to the spot of dark leather between their legs, Rallot had given the eunuchs collars of matching, dark leather, and had fastened narrow leather wrist and ankle bands around one or both of each boy’s wrists and ankles. With Nester’s and Ono’s help, he had pulled the eunuchs’ long hair back from their temples into high tails which he then tied with dangling strands of the same leather, only colorfully beaded this time.

Rallot purposely left the slender torsos of the eunuchs bare. And now they were oiling each other. The effect would be perfect. As Nester, Ono, and he prepared to leave, Rallot looked over the long-legged boys one last time, approvingly. “I must be more careful how I dress you,” Rallot told them. “Tonight the gods themselves will be tempted to come for you.”

Bantu looked down over his lightly-oiled body. “What do you mean, how you dress us?” he demanded with a grin. “We’re wearing more oil than clothing.”

Old Rallot grinned broadly. “Come to my quarters after your dance this evening, and I will help you undress.”

“Ha! He means he’ll lick off the oil,” Nester said, patting the old eunuch’s back as he dragged him toward the door.

+ + + + +

The Oracle entered the hall, attended by Rem. Five musicians were seated at the front, by the linen draperies which hung over the shrine doors. They were strumming mainly, and piping – lively, Phrygian rhythms.

Tenetamon came to meet her. “Oracle,” he said with a bow, “you look beautiful tonight.”

She had worn a skirt of layered, white silk, and a crisscrossed bodice of the same material, which left her slender midriff bare. In her hair, she wore golden combs, and around her neck, she wore five golden necklaces.

“Thank you,” she replied with a slight bow of her head.

Like the other athletes, Tenetamon was dressed in one of the silk robes which the priests had provided them. Earlier, the eunuchs had bathed them, and braided and scented the athletes’ hair.

The tables had been arranged in a large “U” shape with the bottom of the U at the rear of the shrine hall. They were set with food, and adorned with aromatic flowers and small lamps with scented oil.

The athletes all stood as Tenetamon led the Oracle by the hand to the head table at the base of the U. Then Tenetamon stood at a place on the Oracle’s right. Cyndur stood to her left. The other athletes, including Amnon, stood, two on each arm of the U.

Behind the athletes, stood their eunuchs in attendance. The oiled skin of the younger boys glistened in the golden torchlight. The Oracle looked over each nearly nude body and nodded when they each smiled at her. She decided that they would dress like this again some day, for her.

Rem took his place behind the Oracle as she prepared to sit down. She stole another glance at Jeet, who stood off to her right, behind Amnon.

Jeet smiled at her, looked her up and down, and nodded.

“You truly are beautiful, tonight, Oracle,” Cyndur said softly, from her side.

She demurred, and blushed. “I had no attendants to help me.”

Rem cleared his throat and she glanced back at him with a frown. “Alright, hardly any help. And no help with my hair.”

“Your hair is lovely,” Tenetamon assured her as the Oracle took her seat.

The athletes had waited, and now took seats themselves.

Quietly, the eunuchs came around into the open space of the shrine floor, and at a signal from Bantu, the musicians began to play. The eunuchs would dance for the Oracle and the athletes.

To a lively rhythm, their naked, oiled bodies slid against each other combining, moving apart, and weaving sensuously. The dance was familiar; the Oracle had seen them perform it before. But the eunuchs had rehearsed subtle and not so subtle differences. Tonight, they were taking an already sensual dance, and making it blatantly erotic for their athletic lovers.

They approached the head table in a line across, and then standing with feet spread and hands behind their heads, they sucked in their stomachs and thrust their pelvises forward in slow, synchronized gyrations. The long muscles of their oiled legs tightened and flexed.

“Do they dance this way for you, Oracle?” Tenetamon asked in a low voice.

“They will,” she assured him.

The boys turned, and with their hands on their hips, circled their butts in the same, easy rhythm. The athletes cheered and clapped hands. Behind the Oracle, Rem made tiny circles with his hips.

They moved into their customary pairs, caressing, bending and swaying together; entwining their legs; belly to belly, belly to back. They ended the dance in embraces.

“Bantu-hah,” Tenetamon called out. “You danced the best!”

“Tazaar did,” Cyndur countered.

And then every athlete called out the name of his eunuch. Grinning, the eunuchs returned to stand behind their athlete.

“Oracle,” Tenetamon said, rising to his feet, “we athletes have prepared entertainment for you as well.” The other athletes rose with him, and they filed to the center of the open U of tables.

“Great Oracle,” he said, with a dramatic bow, “your attendants have taught us the secrets of exotic dance, and tonight,” he said, sweeping both arms out in a grand gesture, “we give you The Dancing Athletes of Kaleh.”

The musicians struck up loudly, and with a flourish the athletes tossed off their silk robes. The Oracle sat up with interest. The athletes wore the long, linen breechcloths of the eunuchs. However, the front of the breechcloths rode higher on the athletes, to cover their pubic hair, and the pouches were full… very full. Their splendidly muscled torsos and legs were bare. On Amnon and on the tall athlete who had been with Ptolemy, thin trails of dark hair ran up from the low pouches of their breechcloths to their navels, and those trails drew the Oracle’s eye.

The athletes bowed in unison, and it was the last graceful thing they did.

They began to dance – more exactly, they began a parody of the eunuchs’ dancing. The Oracle’s mouth fell open.

Because the eunuchs were graceful dancers, she had been expecting something graceful from the athletes. But the athletes were purposefully clumsy; jostling one another and dancing with exaggeratedly sweeping gestures, stepping heavily and feigning dreamy looks. And whereas the eunuchs danced sensually, the athletes danced bawdily, grabbing each other by the hips and banging loins to butts.

The Oracle glanced at her eunuchs, and when she saw that they were laughing, she laughed as well, and she began to cheer the antics of the athletes, along with the eunuchs.

Tenetamon tripped and fell. Amnon didn’t see, and backed over him, falling as well.

Rem howled with delight from behind the Oracle and she turned to see him, red-faced with laughter. Aruli fell to the floor laughing. The Oracle glanced at Jeet, and there were tears on his cheeks. She laughed harder now; laughing at their laughter.

Amnon grabbed the tail of Cyndur’s breechcloth and jerked. Tenetamon grabbed Amnon’s, and then he grabbed the front of another athlete’s with his other hand and then another breechcloth with the same hand. The other athletes reached for breechcloths as well and soon the athletes were entangled in a tugging knot of six nearly-naked, athletic male bodies.

“Oracle,” Cyndur cried. “We have made ourselves into the Gordian Knot. Be Alexander for us and come cut us free!”

With a broad grin, the Oracle jumped to her feet, grabbing up a knife from the table. When she came at them with the knife in her hand, the nearest athletes tried to pull back. “Oracle!” Tenetamon called out, “be careful you do not make more eunuchs!”

The other athletes laughed and the eunuchs came closer to watch.

The Oracle reached in and started cutting through breechcloths and waist bands. Strips of fabric began falling to the floor. Rem had followed her and crowded her from behind, watching closely. The youngest athlete was sixteen; the oldest was twenty-two. All of them had man-sized genitals and hard-muscled bodies, and Rem wanted a better look.

“Tenetamon, you’re too ugly to be one of her eunuchs!” Cyndur chided.

“No he’s not,” Bantu called out. “Cut away, Oracle!”

More laughter.

“Bantu’s just tired of being fucked night and day,” Tazaar said. “He wants you to slow Tenetamon down.”

“Oh, Tazaar,” Bantu wailed, “your words make me realize how foolish I was to say that. Oracle, do not cut off Tenetamon’s balls because truly, they are beautiful balls. They are the greatest balls in all the empire.”

“He’s right about that,” Cyndur observed. “Tenetamon’s balls are the greatest in the empire – they are twice as large as his brain.”

Tenetamon growled and nudged Cyndur. More fabric fell to the floor, and Cyndur, along with the tall athlete who had chosen Ptolemy, stepped naked from the knot of athletes. The eunuchs cheered. “Rescued,” Tazaar cried out playfully, throwing his arms around Cyndur.

The Oracle pressed in among the hard bodies. She was enjoying herself; feeling pouches as she cut away fabric, brushing strong legs, taut bellies, large, dangling penises, and soft scrotums. Rem stayed right behind her, laying his hands on muscular stomachs, butts, and backs of the athletes.

“Who is this?” Tenetamon asked, looking down at Rem.

Jeet grabbed Rem by the arm and pulled him from within the knot of athletes. “This is Rem,” Jeet told the athlete, “a servant to the Oracle.”

Rem turned back toward the knot of youths, but Jeet held him back with both arms around the boy’s middle.

“Oracle, I can handle two eunuchs. Let Rem visit Bantu’s booth tonight,” Tenetamon said.

Before Jeet or the Oracle could answer, Cyndur did. “Ha! Tenetamon. He’s not a eunuch. Besides, your cock is bigger than he is. You’d hollow him out inside. Leave the boy alone.”

Jeet held Rem tightly in his arms and whispered behind his ear. “See, I told you one of these horny bastards would want to mount your tiny excuse for an ass. Now go back over to the Oracle’s seat at the table where you belong.” He swatted the rear of Rem’s loincloth. But when he released the boy, Rem simply stepped behind him, wrapping his arms around Jeet’s waist from behind the way Jeet had held him a moment before. From that position, Rem peeked around the Abij-hah to continue watching.

“Oracle,” Amnon said with a nervous laugh as she ran one hand down the V of his abdominal plate while holding the knife with her other hand. “You wouldn’t let that knife slip just because I’ve borrowed Jeet for a couple of days, would you?” he asked

She glanced up at him with a cocked eyebrow. Smiling, she laid a hand on the front of his breechcloth. “No,” she said, “but my knife might slip to gain me a fine new eunuch.”

Tenetamon roared in delight. Amnon drew back in mock fear. Laughing, the Oracle cut Amnon’s waistband and his breechcloth fell away.

“Thank you, Oracle,” he said with a melodramatic bow. He stepped naked from the knot and up to Jeet, throwing his arms over the Abij-hah’s shoulders. Rem, still hugging Jeet from behind, was glad to get a closer look at the nude athlete. To Rem’s ten-year-old eyes, Amnon’s thick, long cock looked as big as a stallion’s.

The Oracle finished cutting the last breechcloths and waistbands. All the athletes were naked now, and everyone cheered. The athletes, except for Tenetamon, returned to their seats. The Oracle returned to hers, accompanied by Rem.

The eunuchs picked up the scraps of fabric, and the musicians left the room. Tenetamon, who had remained standing with the eunuchs, now approached the Oracle from inside the U shaped tables. Behind him, the eunuchs dragged pallets into the open area.

The well-built athlete bowed. “Your attendants taught us to dance, Oracle,” he said. “We taught them to wrestle.”

The Oracle laughed, clapping her hands delightedly. “If you taught them to wrestle the same way they taught you to dance…”

Tenetamon held up his hand. “No, we actually did try to teach them to wrestle. They’re going to put on an exhibition for you.” He leaned toward the Oracle over the table, and lowered his voice, confidentially. “Through no fault of ours, Oracle, they’re not very good at wrestling. Unless we keep after them to wrestle, they stop to kiss and embrace one another. They’ve never gotten into the spirit of the sport.” He winked. “But as long as we force them to wrestle, they wrestle like acrobats and it’s fun to watch.”

The Oracle smiled and clasped her hands excitedly.

“The first match,” Tenetamon called out, and waved Ptolemy and Jin onto the pallets. The two pulled off their breechcloths while the other eunuchs wiped them down vigorously with cloths to remove what oil they could from their skin. Then they all stood back as Ptolemy and Jin squared off in only their collars, wrists, and ankle bands.

The two young eunuchs crouched and circled each other, their long, flaccid cocks dangling between their legs. The Oracle knelt up in interest. They looked like two cats, ready to spring; and it struck her, seeing them like that, that her eunuchs were athletes in their own right; lean, fit, and vital.

They circled each other, and Jin lunged. They grappled and fell to the pallet, rolling back and forth, and grabbing for holds with movements far more rapid than those of the athletes. Grappling with each other, they rolled; and rolled each other right off the pallet. “A draw!” Tenetamon called out. He directed them back to the middle.

He signaled to start, and in seconds Ptolemy tossed Jin from the pallet.

“That’s one win for Ptolemy,” Tenetamon called out.

Jin stepped back onto the pallet and they grappled again. This time, Jin pinned Ptolemy’s naked body with his own, and made him concede. Then Ptolemy pinned Jin.

Tenetamon called Aruli and Bantu out. They stripped off their breechcloths, and the eunuchs wiped them down. Aruli lunged as soon as Tenetamon gave the signal to start. Bantu fell back, pulling Aruli with him while bringing up his feet. He flipped Aruli over his head, but Aruli hung on and didn’t fall completely off the pallet. Instead, Aruli spun back immediately and knocked Bantu backward. They wrestled even more intensely than Ptolemy had with Jin, and soon their nude bodies glistened with sweat and oil – every lean muscle hard and tight. They strained against each other, cocks swinging with their movements. Aruli feinted, but misjudged, and Bantu shoved him from the pallet.

“A win for Bantu,” Tenetamon announced.

Aruli won the next round, pinning Bantu. The last round lasted a long time; the two eunuchs were well matched. But eventually, Bantu managed to roll Aruli onto his back, and moved over him. But he was unable to pin Aruli or get a good hold on Aruli’s slippery body. Finally, Bantu covered Aruli’s mouth with his own, and Aruli ceased struggling. The struggle became an embrace.

“Damn it, you both lose!” Tenetamon growled, playfully kicking at Bantu’s butt until the two scrambled to their feet, grinning. Tenetamon scowled and made a lunge at Bantu who howled and danced away laughing.

Tenetamon called out Jeet and Tazaar.

“This won’t be fair,” the Oracle said, leaning toward Cyndur. “Tazaar’s bigger and stronger.”

Cyndur grinned. “You haven’t seen the Abij-hah wrestle. He told us that his parents were warriors. After seeing him wrestle, I believe it.”

At the signal for Jeet and Tazaar to start, their bodies collided. They strained against each other, on their feet, shoulder against shoulder, leg and butt muscles straining, cocks swinging back and forth against their legs. Tazaar stepped forward, raising them more upright, and they pressed each other, belly to belly. Tazaar tried grabbing Jeet by the butt and lifting him off his feet, but Jeet fell back, though, pulling Tazaar forward. As they landed on the pallet, Jeet tried to scramble away, but Tazaar quickly maneuvered onto Jeet’s back and wrapped the shorter boy’s arms up into a hold that immobilized him, and then he squeezed Jeet’s legs between his own as well.

“Concede,” Tazaar demanded. But Jeet wouldn’t concede. Tazaar tightened the hold, but Jeet still wouldn’t give in. So Tazaar let him up.

“Damn it, you fuck-addled eunuchs!” Tenetamon bellowed. He turned to face the Oracle across the table with a look of exasperation. “See what I mean? Instead of increasing Jeet’s pain until he gives in, Tazaar simply gets up and lets him go.”

“Jeet won’t ever surrender,” Cyndur told the Oracle. “We learned that. He won’t ever concede, no matter what you do to him. You might as well let him up.”

Tazaar blew Tenetamon a kiss as the two eunuchs squared off again, and the big athlete growled at him.

At the signal, Tazaar lunged, this time successfully grabbing Jeet up by the butt and taking him down onto his back. Jeet struggled fiercely to twist away, but Tazaar managed to get his body across Jeet’s chest. Jeet planted his heels and arched up onto his shoulders, rolling Tazaar off.

Watching Jeet’s lean body arch back – glistening with sweat and oil, every straining muscle rigid – the Oracle felt a surge of pride that he was her lover.

They twisted and lunged, fast as cats. Cyndur leaned toward the Oracle. “They’re good, aren’t they,” he said. “I’d rather watch them wrestle than athletes like Tenetamon and me.”

Tazaar lunged and Jeet dodged, shoving Tazaar past and completely off the pallet.

“A win for Jeet,” Tenetamon announced. “Now return to the pallets for the deciding match.”

Tazaar came back onto the pallets, and they squared off. Tenetamon signaled, and Tazaar immediately lunged. He miscalculated though, and with a feint, Jeet levered the taller boy down, onto his back, and straddled him, attempting to pin Tazaar’s wrists down beside his head. Jeet scooted his butt forward onto Tazaar’s belly, moving his weight higher. He bent flat over Tazaar as Tazaar struggled, twisting at the waist, legs kicking and cock flopping.

And then Tazaar’s struggling slowed. It took a moment before Tenetamon realized that Jeet had covered Tazaar’s mouth with his own. Tazaar murmured and relaxed.

“Damn it! Not again!” Tenetamon cried out. He bent and slapped Jeet’s bare bottom with a loud whap! “See what I mean, Oracle! They just don’t have the right spirit for wrestling.” He slapped Jeet’s butt a second time with his open hand.

“Let’s take him,” Tazaar whispered to Jeet.

Jeet quickly rolled off, and both boys jumped up, quickly grabbing Tenetamon by the arms and dragging him back onto the pallet. They tried to tackle him down, but he was too strong and heavy for them. The other eunuchs came running. With howls and protests, Tenetamon fell to the pallets under an avalanche of naked, oily eunuchs. The other athletes cheered and the Oracle laughed as the six, nude boys pinned Tenetamon’s powerful arms and legs. Bantu climbed astraddle the large athlete’s waist and bounced. Tenetamon howled.

Rem edged forward to the table, looking like he might try to jump over it and join in the brawl, but the Oracle motioned him back.

But then Bantu bent forward over Tenetamon, covering the older youth’s mouth with his own, and Tenetamon’s struggling slowed.

“Ah, hah!” Cyndur cried out. “Tenetamon, you hypocrite! You’re as bad as they are!”

The eunuchs freed one of Tenetamon’s arms and he wrapped it over Bantu. They freed the other arm, and he wrapped it over Bantu as well. The eunuchs then rose, completely freeing him, and Tenetamon rolled atop Bantu, covering the eunuch’s smaller body with his own. Still enmeshed in their kiss, Bantu ran his fingers up into the athlete’s hair and wrapped his legs around Tenetamon’s waist.

“Do you forget our guest, Tenetamon?” Amnon called our. “Or do you intend to fuck Bantu in front of everyone?”

Wrapping his arms under Bantu, Tenetamon rose up onto his knees, pulling Bantu up with him. With a grin, he stood with Bantu clinging to his front. Tenetamon’s thickening cock was half-erect and rising under Bantu’s bottom.

“He’s hung like a donkey, isn’t he Oracle,” Cyndur observed, leaning toward her.

The Oracle nodded, her eyes locked on Tenetamon’s lengthening member.

The big athlete carried Bantu back to his place at the table. He sat down next to the Oracle, and Bantu, now sitting astride Tenetamon’s lap, took Tenetamon’s face into both hands and probed into the athlete’s mouth with his tongue.

“You’ll have to forgive them, Oracle,” Cyndur said with a grin from her other side as the Oracle watched the kissing couple. “Tenetamon did want two eunuchs for himself so he could show everyone what a stallion he is, but since he has only one, he’s been trying to fuck Bantu twice as much.”

The Oracle nodded distractedly, finding it hard to take her eyes from the pair. Standing just behind her, Rem watched transfixed as well, the front of his loincloth beginning to rise.

With one hand, Tenetamon lifted Bantu’s bottom, and with his other, he pointed his now-turgid erection upward. They watched as Bantu sat down onto it. Bantu sat all the way down.

“Bantu has been staying well-oiled,” Cyndur remarked over the Oracle’s shoulder. She glanced at him and he grinned at her.

“Bantu’s also been walking damned funny,” one of the other athletes commented. There were chuckles around the table.

Bantu locked his legs around Tenetamon’s strong waist and started rocking up and down in the athlete’s lap. Grabbing Bantu by his bottom Tenetamon lifted and lowered with Bantu’s rocking. Their movements became more forceful. Then Tenetamon wrapped the much smaller youth tightly in his arms and rolled Bantu to the cushions. Without missing a beat, the athlete’s butt began rising and falling at a level with the top of the table.

From the side of the U beyond Tenetamon and Bantu, Amnon smiled at the Oracle. “As you can see, Tenetamon really likes your servant, Bantu.”

The Oracle nodded and managed to tear her gaze away. She glanced around the shrine hall. She and Rem were the only ones with any clothing on. She looked at Amnon and then at Jeet behind him. Their eyes met. She longed for him.

Amnon noticed the direction of her glance and nodded his head. “Your eunuchs are a treasure finer than gold, Oracle,” he said. “Even a king would envy you.” He reached back and pulled Jeet forward with an arm behind the nude boy’s waist. “I know that the Abij-hah is your favorite, and truly there is not another like him.” He bowed his head to the Oracle once more. “You have been gracious to me, Oracle. I will always be grateful to you.”

Her eyes on Jeet, the Oracle nodded, barely hearing him.

“It is we, the Oracle’s eunuchs, who have the treasure,” Jeet said, returning Anda’s gaze. It was not a time that a slave would normally be permitted to speak, but he was the Abij-hah, and he really wished to say even more to the Oracle.

“Truly spoken, Jeet,” Cyndur called out in agreement.

All this time, Tenetamon and Bantu had been copulating on the cushions beside the Oracle. Suddenly Tenetamon groaned and Bantu started to laugh. His laugh was stifled, though, when Tenetamon covered Bantu’s mouth with his own. The Oracle glanced at Tenetamon’s rising and falling, muscular butt.

“Oracle,” Cyndur said, drawing her attention away. “Have you tried the doves? They are very tender.”

The meal progressed, and as the eunuchs served the athletes, they moved one by one, into the laps of the athletes and fed them by hand. The athletes fed the eunuchs the same way, and the couples began to kiss. When Rem looked like he might want to climb into her lap, the Oracle waved him off.

Only Jeet of the eunuchs remained standing. But Amnon finally pulled him into his lap and kissed the younger boy. When Jeet returned the kiss, the Oracle decided that it was time to return to her chambers. It was one thing to watch Amnon and Jeet from the rafters, it was quite another to have to sit at the same table while they made love.

She rose to her feet. “It is late. Tomorrow you all have your games,” she announced. “I will leave to let you rest.”

Tenetamon rose. His lovemaking with Bantu had finally ended, and Tenetamon was the only athlete with a flaccid cock. He bowed. “May the gods continue to bless you, Oracle. And may they bless us tomorrow.”

She nodded. “May I kiss my attendants goodnight?”

“Certainly,” Tenetamon said.

Bantu quickly rose to his feet beside her, and she kissed him. Behind her, Tazaar rose to his feet, his long erection jutting in front. She embraced and kissed him, feeling his hardness against her belly.

She kissed Jin and then Ptolemy. She crossed the U and kissed Aruli. All three had erections. But then Jeet stood, and his cock was only thick, not erect. She was glad for that somehow. They embraced, and he pressed his lips to hers. Their mouths opened. The kiss lasted. She felt his erection rise against her leg, and she was glad that she had made him harder. Her phallus had been hard for much of the evening, and grew fiercely hard again.

“I love you,” Jeet whispered in her ear when their kiss ended. The Oracle nodded and stepped back. Followed by Rem, she left the room.

Amnon stood up, coming behind Jeet, and pulled the boy back into his arms. Several of the other couples were already lying stretched out on the cushions around the table, bodies entwined.

Amnon kissed the nape of Jeet’s neck and pulled him back tightly against his belly and chest and erection. He slid a hand down Jeet’s front, finding the eunuch’s stiff cock, and closed his hand around it. “Let’s stay out here,” he whispered. “Your pallet is still out here with the others.”

Jeet nodded, and Amnon swept him up with an arm under Jeet’s knees and one under his back. He laid Jeet down onto his back, and moved up alongside him, cradling the younger boy’s head in the crook of his strong arm.

Jeet smiled up at him, and stroked the side of Amnon’s face with his palm. They were lovers, however briefly, and felt the affection of lovers. Jeet ran his hand over Amnon’s strong shoulder and down over his thick bicep. Jeet knew those muscles well now. He had washed them, oiled them, massaged them, and stretched them. He had even kissed the back of those hard shoulder muscles when Amnon let Jeet make love to his strong body from behind.

Amnon kissed him now, and slipping his free arm behind the small of Jeet’s back, he pulled the boy’s belly to his own.

+ + + + +

The Oracle sighed sadly and lowered her hair as Rem removed her jewelry and undressed her. “Let’s wrestle, Oracle,” Rem suggested enthusiastically.

She shook her head as her outer garments fell away. She had been thinking about Jeet, and how he looked as he danced and wrestled. Her phallus was erect and it showed through her light gown. Rem lifted the gown over her head. “Do you miss Jeet?” Rem asked. “Are you sad?”

Standing naked, she nodded.

Rem paused. The Oracle did look sad, and alone. It struck Rem that she suddenly appeared different to him. Before, she had always been The Oracle. But now she stood there looking somehow small and lonely… with an incongruously erect phallus on her female body. Rem felt a surge of affection and compassion for her; emotions he was unaccustomed to. But he had been intimate with her… his first girl lover. That had stirred new emotions in him as well; protective, bonding, gentle emotions. Only slightly shorter than the thirteen-year-old Oracle, Rem kissed her lightly. “I will take care of you tonight, Oracle.” He backed her to the bed. “Jeet will be back tomorrow night and you will be happy again. But tonight, I will take care of you.”

She nodded slightly. Rem guided her back, laying her back onto the bed. He pulled off his loincloth and lay down beside her, rolling up on his side against her side, his thin erection pressing her hip. He laid his hand in the middle of her chest and slid it slowly down her belly. He kissed her breasts… then her collar bone… then her neck… then her lips.

He had watched Jeet and the others. He had seen ways to make love, and he wanted to please the Oracle. He kissed downward between her breasts and down to her stomach. He shifted up onto his hands and knees and kissed down her belly and onto the underside of her upturned phallus.

The Oracle shifted her hips and parted her legs. Rem moved over to kneel between them and took her phallus into his mouth. Anda’s gut tightened and she clasped the sides of Rem’s head.

Rem had learned to bob, and he bobbed on the Oracle’s erection. When her hips began to rock, he raised his mouth from her phallus and licked down the underside and into her labia, exploring between them with his tongue for the first time. He found the root of her phallus there, under the labia, thick and firm like a boy’s perineum, and then down at the bottom of her labia, beneath the hard root of her phallus, he found her opening and discovered a new dimension to her scent… and a taste that stirred even Rem’s young loins.

He licked, and licked again. His licking became lapping; lapping like a dog between her labia … hungrily… excitedly. The Oracle’s legs squirmed, her hands clutched his hair.

Rem liked licking her. With a hand inside each thigh, he pushed her legs farther apart, spreading her open, and pressed his face and tongue to her vulva. The Oracle moaned and her body responded, and that excited Rem even more. Her hips rocked in time with his lapping. She moaned and her moans grew louder.

It became too much for the thirteen-year-old Anda. She pulled him up; pulled his head up her body. She pulled him up until he dove onto her breasts, caressing them in both hands and sucking her nipples.

His long twig of a cock poked her wet labia, and reflexively, hungrily, Anda released his head and grabbed his hips instead. She maneuvered them, poking herself with his cock by moving his hips until she poked the right spot and then she pulled his hips forward, pulling him in hard and fast.

Rem’s body stiffened and his breath caught. Clutching his butt, Anda ground against him, trying to pull him deeper; trying to pull him as deep as Jeet. Rem arched up from her with a sharp intake of breath. His mouth fell open, and his breath came shallow and ragged. He looked down between their bodies, wanting to see… and he saw his bald pubic mound pressed flat under the Oracle’s upturned phallus. He pulled his hips back, feeling the lining of her vagina slide on his cock, and saw his shaft appear. He pushed back in and pressed forward, hard, when Anda pulled on his butt. He pumped again, and again.

He laid down on her, wrapping his arms awkwardly around her, nuzzling into the side of her neck. He hugged her and pumped his hips jerkily, but faster. She moaned and rocked her pelvis to meet him. She liked it. He went faster. She writhed under him. She squeezed his small, fleshy buttocks.

He pumped fast. She spread her legs wider and wrapped her arms around his thin shoulders, gasping as he pumped even faster. She rocked her hips, unable to match his pace, but moving to meet his rabbit-fast thrusting anyway.

He wasn’t as big as Jeet, but his frenzied pumping filled her loins with fire. She gasped and arched back under him, lifting her pelvis higher against the impact of his hard, narrow loins. Her gasps became guttural, and she clutched at his back. Rem whimpered and the whimpers became small cries as a full-blown, dry orgasm racked his prepubescent body.

They pumped together… and pumped, and slowed only a little. Rem had been discovering that ten-year-olds can stay hard after dry orgasms, and the Oracle had already learned from Jeet that she was capable of multiple orgasms. After only moments, their speed slowly increased once more. The Oracle rolled them so that Rem was on the bottom. She pushed up with her hands on his shoulders and rocked her hips almost as frantically as Rem had pumped his. She rocked and ground on Rem’s long, thin cock while rubbing her erection on his belly. Reaching up to grab her small breasts, Rem dug in his heels and drove his narrow hips up to move with her.

They ground through Rem’s second, whining-whimpering-shuddering climax, and through a long, gasping one for the Oracle. They slowed, and paused, their breath returning to normal.

The Oracle gave their joining a final, slow grind… feeling… savoring. Her eyes met Rem’s and it struck her that he was a cute boy – not pretty, but thoroughly… a boy. And at the moment, he was cute because he looked so dazed. She stroked his cheek and smiled. She bent to kiss him. He slipped from inside her, and she lay down beside him, pulling him into her arms, belly to belly.

“Oracle,” Rem whispered.


He rested his smooth cheek against hers. “Are you going to tell Jeet?”

She shrugged closing her eyes. Her phallus was still thick and she pressed it against him.

“Will he send me away?” Rem asked.

The Oracle leaned back to look at him. “No,” she said. “He wouldn’t do that.”

Rem bit his lip.

“He likes you,” she told him.

Rem smiled hopefully. “Do you think so?”

The Oracle frowned slightly; Rem was with her at the moment, not Jeet. She let Rem go and rolled away.

He pressed up behind her, spooning her and wrapping an arm over her side. He caressed her breast and kissed the back of her neck. “Do you like me, Oracle?” he asked in a whisper. “Because I really like you.”

She covered his hand on her breast with her own.

+ + + + +

An hour after dawn, they stood just inside the curtains that hung over the Shrine doors. The eunuchs were still naked from the night, but the athletes were dressed and ready to leave. Tied around the waist of each athlete, like a belt for his tunic, was a long, silk breechcloth that had belonged to his eunuch/lover.

Amnon embraced Jeet, closing his eyes to concentrate on remembering; remembering the feel of the slender boy’s naked body in his arms, the smooth, soft skin, the firmness of Jeet’s small butt, his scent, the way he responded to Amnon’s embrace. Amnon kissed him, brushing for one last time the boy’s soft, firm lips with his own.

Jeet returned the kiss, clinging to the older youth. He thought about telling Amnon of his dream, but how could he tell Amnon that it was a vision from the Oracle when Amnon knew Jeet hadn’t talked to her? “Will you return?” Jeet asked. “Will you come back to tell us how the games go for you?”

Amnon nodded. “I will return. It may be late tonight, but I will return.”

Jeet smiled gratefully. He could tell Amnon of the dream then.

After a final kiss, Amnon left through the linen drapes and out the door. With a sudden empty felling in his gut Jeet watched the drapes fall back in place. Because of what he had seen in the dream, he doubted that Amnon would ever return for another night with the Abij-hah.

+ + + + +

“They left,” Rem told her.

The Oracle paced nervously. “Is Jeet going to come up? Did he say?”

Rem shrugged. “None of them were dressed yet. I didn’t ask him.”

She bit her lip. Should she send Rem to ask Jeet to come to her? She didn’t want to seem anxious. She wasn’t sure how she should seem. It was one thing to tell Jeet she would welcome him back like a wife welcomes her husband home from work; it was quite another to welcome Jeet back after seeing him with Amnon. How much had changed for them? How much had changed in how Jeet felt about her and she felt for him?

If he took a long time to come to her, now that Amnon was gone, that would not be a good sign. She felt her gut tighten. What if Jeet wasn’t anxious to see her?

“Oracle.” It was Jeet’s voice. She turned toward the door.

Jeet came toward her, but then surprised her by dropping to his knees. He bent low, pressing his forehead to the floor, like the meanest of servants asking for mercy. She stood over him, stunned. Of all the things she had imagined upon seeing him again, she had not imagined this. She glanced at Rem and motioned him to leave.

Reluctantly, Rem bowed and left.

Anda knelt down beside Jeet and touched his bare shoulder.

“I love you,” he said, his forehead still pressed to the ground. “I love you with all my heart, Oracle.”

Anda’s eyes filled with tears. She had been so worried. She bent over him, laying the side of her face down onto his back and embracing his familiar, bare shoulders. The thirteen-year-old Oracle swallowed, and said only one word to her thirteen-year-old Abij-hah. “Husband,” she whispered.

Jeet sat back on his haunches, and she embraced him.

They held each other. She wanted to kiss him, but not just yet. She brushed tears from her eyes onto his neck and pulled back. Her eyes on his lips, she touched them lightly with her fingers. “Go bathe yourself,” she whispered. “Wash off any other kisses. Wash off the other things you have done. Then come to me.”

She remained on her knees for a moment after he left, thinking; considering when to tell Jeet about the things she had done with Rem. Later, she decided, rising to her feet. Later when the time was right.

+ + + + +

The rest of the eunuchs, along with Rem, were in the Oracle’s chambers when Jeet returned from bathing. Their mood was somber.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Rufus is gone,” Ptolemy said. “I went out on the front portico and a guard I’ve seen over at the temple was giving orders. I asked where Rufus was, and he told me Rufus was no longer captain of the shrine guard. They removed him while we were locked away with the athletes.”

Jeet felt a surge of anger. “I’ll be back,” he promised, and strode out the door. Tazaar stayed behind with the Oracle. The others followed Jeet.

“Him,” Ptolemy told Jeet, pointing to a guard; a large man with streaks of gray in his tangled beard.

Jeet walked up to him. “Where’s Rufus?” he demanded.

The guard smiled indulgently. “Rufus has been removed. He guards at the temple now. My name is Menditis. I am the new captain of the shrine guard.”

Jeet frowned. “Who decided that?”

Menditis kept his smile, but his eyes grew hard. “The high priests decided it.”

“Stycus decided it, you mean,” Jeet said. He turned to the others. “I’m going to talk to Jarus.”

Menditis stepped in front of Jeet to block his way. “Now, now. It’s not for slaves like you to go bothering high priests. Jarus knows about the change, so just you go on back inside the shrine.”

Jeet’s eyes flashed and he moved to step past the guard, but Menditis stopped him with a hand to his chest.

The other eunuchs flinched. “He is the Abij-hah,” Ptolemy protested.

“I know who he is,” Menditis replied. “Now all of you… go back inside where you belong.” He motioned to the other guards on the portico. They were guards the eunuchs knew by name, and they weren’t happy to do so, but they helped Menditis usher the eunuchs back into the shrine.

The Oracle and Tazaar were waiting in the shrine hall; inside the drapes which still hung behind the doors. She saw Jeet’s face and frowned. “What?”

They told her.

“I’m going to Jarus,” Jeet said, heading for the back of the shrine. “I’ll go out by the bathhouse.”

The others started to follow.

“No,” Jeet said, holding up his hand. “They’ll notice if we all go together.”

“You aren’t going alone,” Tazaar said. “I’ll come with you.”

Jeet nodded.

+ + + + +

Jarus waved his hand dismissively. “Rufus failed to protect you at least two times, Jeet; once at the performance on the river and once when he allowed an intruder into the shrine.”

“That’s not true!” Jeet protested. “In fact, it’s the opposite of what’s true. Both times, it was Rufus who protected us. We want him back, holy one.”

Jarus shook his head. “The decision has been made. Stycus vouches for Menditis. The guard is a good man. He will protect you now.”

“He won’t even let us out of the shrine!” Jeet protested.

Jarus shook his head sadly and turned the two boys toward the door. “Well that’s partly your own fault, Jeet. You have made yourself so popular with the people that it is not safe for you to be outside without guards. We saw that at the river.”

Jeet pulled away. “That was different. We have always been allowed anywhere on the temple grounds and no one bothers us. There are guards everywhere here if there ever is any trouble.”

Jarus turned Jeet toward the door once more, gently but firmly ushering him and Tazaar toward it. “Perhaps when things settle down you can be out again, but for now, you are safer where you can be protected.” He squeezed the backs of both boys’ shoulders. “Besides, you boys have a lot of fun inside the shrine. Every slave in the empire would envy the easy life you live.” They reached the door. “Go on back now and quit worrying about things. We’re taking care of you.”

“They will not get away with this,” Jeet angrily told Tazaar as they walked back across the temple courtyard. “We won’t let them!”

+ + + + +

The eunuchs had just cleared away the last of the Oracle’s evening meal when Aruli went to the balcony and leaned out. He turned back toward the room. “There’s something going on!”

The others came to the railing and leaned out to listen. They could hear growing sounds of a crowd.

“It’s after dark,” Bantu said in surprise. “The temple gates are shut.”

They strained to listen.

“Are people at the gates?” the Oracle asked.

Jeet stepped up behind her, listening. “Sounds like it.”

She leaned back into him. They all stood quietly, wondering what was happening. A few minutes later, the noise of the crowd suddenly grew closer. Leaning out, they could see torchlight from the courtyard reflecting off the walls of the bathhouses.

“Oracle,” a servant called from the door. “There’s a large crowd of people outside, in front of the shrine.”

Another servant appeared behind the first. “Oracle, the high priest, Jarus, asks you to come down. It’s the athletes,” the servant grinned. “Kaleh won the games!”

“Wait! Everyone!” Jeet called, drawing them together. “This is an opportunity. We can get Rufus back.”

+ + + + +

The crowd chanted, “Oracle! Oracle!” The doors to the shrine opened. They cheered until they saw that Jeet came out alone.

Jeet noticed the athletes at the front of the crowd. They were wearing olive wreaths in their hair and were all smiling. The crowd behind them was made up of men and boys who Jeet assumed had come directly from the games. He held up his hands for silence and the crowd quieted.

“The Oracle cannot come out,” Jeet called out.

Several people shouted “Why? Why not?”

He held up his hands again. Jarus moved closer, concerned about what Jeet might be up to.

“The Oracle instructed me,” Jeet said, “to tell you that the captain of her shrine guard, her trusted Rufus, has been taken from her. The Oracle says it is no longer safe for her outside of the Shrine. She will not come out tonight or ever until Rufus has been returned to his command, here at the shrine.”

A murmur rippled back through the crowd.

“Who took him away?” Tenetamon asked loudly.

“The high priests,” Jeet said.

Several in the crowd turned toward Jarus and Stycus with angry looks. Most had no idea who Rufus was, but they knew of the tension between the Oracle and the high priests – they favored the Oracle. “Jarus!” someone yelled, “give Rufus back to them.”

Jarus glared at Jeet who simply turned on his heel and returned inside the shrine.

The crowd grew angry. “Bring back Rufus!” several yelled. Some in the crowd shook their fists.

Jarus stepped forward, waving his hands for silence, but the crowd grew louder. He glanced at Stycus with concern.

Stycus came to him. “Let’s leave,” he yelled.

“What? You think they will simply go home?”

The crowd pressed forward. The athletes came up the portico steps. Three city leaders came with them. They surrounded the high priests. The crowd quieted.

The discussion on the portico grew animated with athletes and priests gesturing angrily. Stycus grew more and more agitated until he abruptly turned and walked away. Jarus motioned a guard over and sent the man running toward the temple. One of the city leaders stepped toward the crowd and raised his hands for silence. “Rufus is being returned to the shrine.”

The crowd broke into cheers. The high priests had backed down.

Jarus quietly backed away from the others on the portico, stepping back close to a guard. A few minutes later, Rufus, followed by two guards came running up onto the steps. The crowd cheered. The cheering grew even louder when the eunuchs came out onto the portico, followed by the Oracle without her mask.

She took her seat and the athletes came before her to lay their olive wreaths at her feet. Tenetamon spoke for them, calling out loudly for the crowd to hear. “Today, Oracle, because of your blessing, the city of Kaleh and we, her champions, won the games!”

The crowd cheered.

Amnon stepped over to Jeet and led him aside by the hand. “I won my race!” he said, excitedly. And suddenly the athletes were mixing with the eunuchs and the city leaders were talking to the Oracle, and people from the crowd ascended the steps.

Rufus stepped up behind the Oracle, motioning guards to move closer to keep an eye on the people. When the Oracle looked up and saw him, she jumped from her seat and threw her arms around Rufus’ neck; and Rufus, who had always related more comfortably to the boy eunuchs than to the hermaphrodite Oracle, patted the back of the young girl clinging to him and had a sudden insight into what it might feel like to have a daughter. “Thank you, Oracle,” he told her. She squeezed his neck more tightly.

Amnon wrapped his arms around Jeet, lifting him, and swinging him around. “I wasn’t really sure it would work… sleeping with you, but it did!” he said, yelling to be heard.

He set Jeet back down and the young eunuch pulled him to the wall next to the shrine doors; away from some of the noise. “I have something to tell you, Amnon” Jeet said, “the Oracle had a vision for you.”

“Oh?” Amnon asked, leaning closer to hear “What vision?”

Jeet rested a hand on the athlete’s strong arm and spoke beside his ear. “The Oracle’s vision was that you will have a son by the end of the year.”

Amnon cocked an eyebrow. “Did you tell the Oracle that I am not yet married?”

Jeet shook his head. “Do you know a pretty girl with long, brown hair and big brown eyes?”

Amnon grinned. “I know several, but none that I would marry.”

Jeet shrugged. “You’ll meet her then.”

Amnon cocked his head with a curious smile. Jeet sounded certain.

Skeptics later claimed that the athletes from Kaleh won that day because they were well rested while the other athletes had to travel. Others insisted the Kaleh champions had been the better athletes to begin with.

But that night, as the high priests retreated to the temple and hundreds of men and boys celebrated Kaleh’s triumph on the shrine portico and steps, it was the Oracle and her eunuchs who were credited for the win. High and low from the city, they came before her, and the young among them walked from athlete to eunuch to athlete as if walking among the gods.

Servants were sent to temple storerooms and bakery for wine and bread, and no one stopped them. The crowd stayed far into the night, even after the Oracle and eunuchs returned inside the shrine and the athletes returned to their homes.

“Thank you, Abij-hah,” Rufus said with a bow to the young eunuch as Jeet prepared to return inside.

Jeet grabbed the guard by his thick bicep. “Don’t ever leave us, Rufus,” he said, looking steadily into the captain’s eyes.

Rufus bowed. “Even when they sent me to the temple, I was working on ways to look after you, the Oracle, and the others,” he said.

Jeet smiled in surprise, and squeezed Rufus’ arm. He nodded gratefully, and stepped inside.

+ + + + +

“I have something to tell you,” the Oracle said after Jeet had undressed her, and then himself, and they lay down together.

She rolled to her back and Jeet moved up beside her, cocking a leg over her middle and laying an arm under her breasts. She squeezed his forearm and looked directly into his eyes. “While you were away… downstairs with Amnon… and the others, Rem attended my bed.”

Jeet’s brow furrowed. “You mean…”

“We had sex together,” she said. “I even let him…” she looked away, “I let him put his cock inside me.” She swallowed. “I suppose it wasn’t that I let him so much as I wanted to do it to.” Her eyes returned to Jeet’s. “It was difficult… all the sex you six were having downstairs, and seeing some of it… I mean, when Tenetamon fucked Bantu right beside me, how was I supposed to not get excited?”

Jeet nodded, knowingly, and pulled the Oracle up on her side and to his body. “I still oughta kick Rem’s butt, the horny little bastard.”

“You’re the one who told him to take care of me,” the Oracle pointed out. “And it’s not like we hadn’t talked about me being with the other eunuchs sometime.”

Jeet shrugged. “I didn’t mean for Rem to take care of you that way.” He hugged her more tightly. “I know… stupid of me to talk like that after I was downstairs with Amnon.”

The Oracle nuzzled in under the side of his face. “We’re together now,” she whispered, kissing his neck.

Jeet’s hands swept her bare back, and he rubbed his cheek on hers. He took a slow breath. “Did you like it with Rem?” he asked.

The Oracle nodded, finding Jeet’s thickening cock with her hand. “He pumps his hips really fast,” she said. She put her lips to his ear and whispered. “I want you to do that to me.” Jeet’s cock grew harder.

The room was quiet afterward. The night was still. There was no moon. One lamp burned slowly in the corner.

The Oracle lay with her head on Jeet’s shoulder; she stroked the silky-smooth skin of his firm chest with her fingertips. “How angry do you think the priests are?” she asked.

“Stycus is probably furious,” Jeet replied. “But it serves him right. He should have never tried taking Rufus away.”

“We couldn’t let him.”

“No, we couldn’t let him.”

She kissed his nipple, and then ran her tongue over it.

Jeet jerked slightly.

She smiled, lifting her head. “You always taste good,” she said.

“Everywhere?” he asked with a grin.

“Everywhere,” she said, kissing his nipple again before laying her head back down on his shoulder. She hugged his chest and rubbed her cheek on his skin. “Jeet-hah,” she asked, “you are not angry about Rem?”

“No.” He stroked her hair. “You are wife and mother and sister to the six of us eunuchs, and now Rem is almost a little brother.”

“You are like their older brother,” she said, her breath tickling his skin. She was quiet a moment, and then took a slow breath. “Jeet, I want to leave the booths up in the shrine hall; at least for a while.”

“Sure,” he said, twisting her hair around a finger. “Do you like them?”

She lifted her head and looked down into his eyes. “When you all were down there in the shrine, each with your own booth, I thought…” She bit her lip, watching his eyes. “You know how we talked about me being with each of the others sometime? I mean, the way Aruli said they wanted me to be with them, like a wife and a husband?”

Jeet nodded.

Her brow furrowed and she dropped her eyes to run a finger along his jaw. “What if we took a week… like a wedding week for the five of them and me… and what if each night I visited a different one of them in his booth? It would be like me coming to his own, private chamber, almost like a bride for a wedding night.” Her eyes met his.

Jeet stroked her back. “You are the Oracle. Do what you wish.”

The Oracle frowned. She laid her hands on either side of his face and stared hard into his eyes. “You are my truest and real husband. I would not do it, if you said not to.”

Jeet smiled sadly. “Aruli and the others… they are bound to you, too, Oracle.” He smoothed a strand of hair back from her face. “Anda,” he whispered, “we are mated, you and me. I love you with all my heart… truly. But Aruli, Tazaar, Ptolemy, Jin, and Bantu… it’s like Aruli told you; they will never have a wife, other than you – no woman to lie down with, to be a man for, to be a husband to… except for you. And they love you, Oracle. I know that.” His eyes suddenly watered and he swallowed hard. He smiled sadly, and when he spoke, it was barely with a voice at all. “The priests took my balls, and they have made me a girl for other boys and men to use.” Tears rolled freely from the corners of his eyes, and yet he smiled. “In your heart, you are a boy, Alexander, but you made yourself a girl for me. You made me your husband and a man once again. I love Aruli and the others. How could I not let you do the same for them?”

Anda smiled and kissed the tears on the side of Jeet’s face. “They also love you, Jeet-hah,” she whispered. She laid her head back down on his shoulder. “When I visit their booths, you should visit booths as well. I am their sister, you are their brother.”

Jeet kissed the top of her hair. “And we will hold them together,” he whispered. “We will keep all of us together.”

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