I wish to retain all rights to this story.

Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.


Chapter 2 – The Temple

Adrenal glands are capable of producing small amounts of testosterone. In hyperplasia, they can produce amounts rivaling those produced by the testicles. It has been a matter of speculation, whether exercise, diet, or even frequent sexual activity, can stimulate increased output of testosterone by the adrenal glands of human castrates.

Jeet woke to the sounds of Ono working in the Most High Priest’s chamber and to the smell of food. He was lying on the pallet which served as Ono’s small corner of the room, and when he opened his eyes, he saw that the young man was wiping down a small table at the center of the room.

Ono noticed that Jeet was awake, and he came to him, carrying a bowl in both hands. Ono knelt down beside the boy. “I brought you breakfast.”

Jeet suppressed a frown at the sound of Ono’s voice. He was still adjusting to eunuchs… to these adult boys… to their androgynous appearance and their high, rich voices. Jeet liked Ono, despite his ‘oddness’ – a twenty-three-year-old whose voice would never deepen, who would never grow a beard, whose hair would never thin, whose body would never harden.

There were many in the followers of Cybele, especially in the cult of Attis, who underwent castration. Almost all of those were youth or adult males who would retain their beards and deep voices; though their virility would abate, and many would dress in women’s clothing.

Unlike those older, “male” eunuchs, among temple servants and slaves, were many like Ono – castrated at or before puberty. They often grew long-limbed and tall, though their features never underwent the remodeling of chin, jaw, brow, and nose that occurred in male adolescence and their voices never deepened. Their androgyny led many in Phrygia to call them the “third sex.” Jeet was now in their number.

Ono smiled at Jeet and offered the bowl.

The boy sat up carefully; his now empty scrotum was still tender. Gratefully, he took the bowl from Ono’s hand. It contained warm liquid. There was meat in it; Jeet could smell it. He took a sip and swallowed slowly, savoring the warmth as well as the flavor.

“There’s not much to it,” Ono said apologetically. “But that isn’t bad. Some eunuchs get fat. Remember that, Jeet. Remember to stay away from fancy food. Stick to lean meat and you’ll stay lean,” he said. Then he smiled and stroked the boy’s hair thick, black hair.

Ono had held the boy in the night, and the boy seemed to sleep better; much better than the previous three nights when Ono was afraid that Jeet’s moans would disturb Jarus, the High Priest.

But then, that would have been Jarus’ own fault. He was the one that insisted that Jeet should stay in his own chambers, in the bed of his personal slave, Ono.

The second night, a priestess who was visiting the high priest’s bed, heard Jeet murmuring in his sleep, and she came to sit beside them. She stroked the boy’s hair and he quieted.

And so last night, Ono pulled the boy into his arms in the dark, and the boy melted to him, burying his face in the nape of Ono’s neck. It made Ono wonder if Jeet was used to sleeping with someone. Ono held him, and they both had slept well.

“I brought another bath in for you,” Ono said, nodding toward a large clay bowl on the floor.

Jeet made a face and Ono laughed; a high, warm sound. “Come now, I’ve told you… the salt water is important to heal your wounds and keep them free from infection.” He stood. “Finish your breakfast, and then I’ll help you over to your bath.”

“In that case,” Jeet mumbled, “I shall sip this slowly.”

“Ha!” Ono cried. “I heard that, you ungrateful little temple rat. For that, you will sit in your bath while you finish your gruel.”

Jeet frowned again.

“Come on,” Ono said. He took the bowl from Jeet. “Get up.” Holding the bowl in one hand, he extended the other to the boy and helped him off the pallet.

The boy stood, naked, but steadier on his feet than on the previous two days. Stiffly, Jeet walked to the large bowl, and then sat down in it, wincing. As a slave, Jeet had been expected to do light work, even the day after his castration. The boy had done what was expected, and Ono had been pleased with his young charge.

He had been pleased as well that Jeet had not moped or complained. Ono knew first hand what castration could do to a boy. Whether it killed him or not, it took the heart out of him. Jeet said little, even about the pain. But Ono could tell – this one was strong.

Ono handed the bowl back to the boy, and then sat cross-legged to watch Jeet finish his gruel. “How old are you, Jeet?” he asked, surveying the boy’s slender, long-limbed body.

Jeet shrugged as he took another sip.

“You don’t know?” Ono asked.

Jeet shook his head.

Ono studied him. “I would say thirteen years of age, or possibly fourteen.” He pointed to the boy’s midsection. “No short hairs yet. It is different with different races, but Phrygian boys don’t usually get short hairs until they are fourteen or fifteen.” Ono’s brow furrowed as he considered. “I’d say at least fourteen.” He pointed once more into Jeet’s lap. “Your cock is that of a youth, not a boy.”

Jeet almost said that his balls had grown big, too… before… what they did to him. He closed his eyes, and his head dropped.

There had been another boy with Jeet at the same time – a boy with large eyes and high cheek bones. Stycus, the ferret-faced high priest, watched as they were stripped and then held down. Jeet struggled, even after Stycus leaned over his face with a wicked smile. “You better hold still,” he warned, “or you’ll lose more than your balls.”

Jeet struggled through the sharp pain. He struggled until they told him they were finished and they walked away. Then he turned his face away and wept in anger and frustration, as well as awful pain. The boy next to him vomited.

That’s when Ono came to him. The young man touched his shoulder, but Jeet pulled away. “My master has sent me to take care of you,” Ono said softly. “I’m going to tend to your wounds.”

Jeet remembered, and took a last sip of the gruel before setting the bowl down. Ono rose, took the bowl back to the table, and returned with a harp. In only a loin cloth and sandals, he moved gracefully and quietly like a youth, or a slender girl; quietly, the way temple slaves were taught to move.

He knelt in front of Jeet. “Can you sing, Jeet?”

The boy nodded.

Ono smiled. “I’m going to teach you to play a harp and sing. It will please the Oracle.”

Jeet reached out and touched the harp. He didn’t care about pleasing the Oracle, but he would like to play the harp. “If the Oracle doesn’t choose me, will I get to stay with you?” Jeet asked.

Ono smiled. “You belong to the Oracle. You will stay in the shrine. And,” he leaned close and laid a finger on the tip of Jeet’s nose, “the Oracle will choose you to be Abij-hah.”

“What if I don’t want to be chosen by the Oracle?”

Ono frowned and laid his hand on Jeet’s cheek. “You want to be chosen, Jeet,” he said. “To be Abij-hah is a great honor. You will be a very important person.”

Jeet shrugged. He didn’t care about being an important person. Extending his finger, he plucked one of the strings of the harp.

+ + + + +

Still walking stiffly, Jeet followed Ono across the pavement of the broad temple courtyard. The aroma of morning sacrifices mingled in the air with incense from the temple and the smells of spring from the cedar forest on the hills around the city. The sides of the governor’s citadel, high atop its hill, were bathed in golden light from the rising sun, but the city and the temple below were still in morning shadow.

Jeet took a deep breath as he looked around. Despite the soreness between his legs, he felt strangely free. The world that morning seemed so wide open; so much bigger than the confines of Praxis’ chamber and compound.

Temple gongs sounded the end of the morning sacrifice and Jeet’s eyes dropped down to the sound. It came from three large, bronze cylinders near the temple, each taller than a man, but of different diameters and heights and tones. Three servants had struck them in unison.

It was Jeet’s first good look at the temple grounds. They were dominated by the temple at one end and by the shrine of the Oracle at the other. The highest point of the temple was almost thirty meters from the ground. The shrine’s was half that. Both were constructed of white stone with finishing of marble. In relief on the temple façade, and in statuary on the temple steps were lions and bulls which were sacred to Cybele and Attis.

Between the temple and the shrine was the courtyard, a hundred and fifty meters in length. In the center of the courtyard sat a tall altar surrounded by stone lions. Smoke from the morning sacrifice rose from four burning braziers set at the altar’s corners.

High walls surrounded the complex on three sides, the longest of which held the main gate from the city. Around the gate, both inside and out, were booths selling animals, birds, bread, and oil for sacrifices, as well as blessed oil, herbs and medicines, holy water. Woodcarvers and sculptors offered likenesses of the goddess, Attis, sacred animals, and phalluses of various sizes carved from different types of wood.

Opposite the gate, across the compound, was the river. Wide, stone stairs led down to the river from almost the entire length of the courtyard. There, worshipers bathed, and cleansed themselves, even now in early spring when the waters were still cold. White, stone colonnades and ramparts extended the temple complex out into the river itself.

Around the inside perimeter of the grounds were quarters for priests and servants, storehouses, kitchens and workshops. Along the river, close to the temple and close to the shrine, were private bathhouses for priests, the Oracle, and important worshipers.

Jeet tried to keep up with Ono as he took it all in. But then he was distracted by a new sound.

Temple musicians were out in the clear morning air, playing at one end of the courtyard. Their music was festive and two young men were dancing. Jeet watched them. But then he noticed that people were staring at him. Priests and worshipers, men and youth were scattered around the courtyard; and they had their heads together, eyes on him, whispering. Three of the temple prostitutes paused as they came up from the river, and one smiled at him.

His cheeks burned. Were they staring because he walked funny and they knew what had been done to him; that he wasn’t a boy any more? Of course they knew. Jeet turned away from them and hurried to catch up with Ono. He stayed on Ono’s heels until Ono led him into an anteroom under the wall, close to the shrine. The stone-walled chamber was cool inside and had the smell of limestone and old cedar timbers. Jeet looked around.

There was a total of six attendants for the Oracle; and consequently six candidates for Abij-hah; six boys – six young eunuchs, including Jeet – all Jeet’s age or slightly older. From the entire province, only the very best candidates had been selected; tall, intelligent, exceptionally good-looking boys. They would all serve the Oracle in whatever way the Oracle chose. But from them, the Oracle would select only one to be the Abij-hah, the beloved eunuch – body slave, personal attendant, major domo, and most importantly, spokesperson for the Oracle. It was tradition that the Oracle made the choice, and once made, the choice was for life.

Jeet glanced at the other boys, who like himself, wore only loin cloths. One boy immediately caught his eye. He had white hair, white skin, white eyebrows and eyelashes, and pale, pink eyes. Jeet had never seen an albino, and he stared for a moment before glancing at the others. One of the other boys was dark; almost as dark as a Nubian. Another boy had skin that was pale and long hair that had gold in it. Then Jeet saw a boy he recognized and moved to take a seat beside him.

They all watched as Jeet gingerly sat down next to the same thin boy with large eyes and high cheekbones who had been emasculated at the same time he was. The boy, who was sitting on his hands, smiled sadly at him. Jeet nodded.

“I am Aruli,” the boy said, leaning close to Jeet.

Aruli had black hair, like Jeet, and olive skin; his large eyes were dark and expressive. Even in his discomfort, Aruli seemed friendly. Jeet leaned close to whisper back. “I am Jeet.”

Aruli nodded. “I know.” He turned and pointed to the albino boy. “That is Jin. He’s almost fourteen like me.”

Jin nodded at Jeet.

“And that is Tazaar,” Aruli said, pointing to the boy with gold in his hair. “He’s almost fifteen.” Tazaar’s pale gray eyes stared straight ahead, and he pretended to take no notice of Jeet. Aruli put his mouth to Jeet’s ear. “You are his rival. He wants to be Abij-hah.”

Aruli leaned back and pointed to the next boy – a Thracian boy – with red hair, creamy white skin, and deep blue eyes. “That is Bantu,” Aruli said. “He is fourteen. And that is Ptolemy. He is fifteen,” he said, pointing to the boy who sat on his other side. Ptolemy was dark as a Nubian and tallest of them all. He was thin and had high, aquiline features. Until he smiled, Jeet thought Ptolemy looked proud like a real Abij-hah. But then Ptolemy smiled, and he looked like a boy.

Ono and two other temple slaves came forward to stand before them. “The high priests are coming,” Ono said. “You are to always stand in the presence of a high priest. When they enter, you will stand and bow.”

On cue, the three high priests came into the room. The six boys stood and mimicked the bow they saw Ono and the others make.

Jarus, the Most High Priest had entered first, followed by Stycus, and then by Eustace, the third high priest. Eustace was dressed as a woman, and had painted his face. The boys stared at him while he looked them over, one by one. Eustace’s eyes lingered on Jeet, who looked away.

“The Oracle will be arriving in thirty days,” Jarus said. “For the next month, you will be trained for service to the Oracle and to the temple of Cybele. Be attentive and learn well so that the Oracle will be pleased with you. Serving the goddess and her Oracle is the highest calling to which any slave can aspire.” Jarus looked them each in the eye. “It is a privilege many free men would desire.”

He stood back and gestured toward Ono and the two other young eunuchs who stood with him. “Ono, Nester, and Benwal will teach you,” Jarus said. “Ono attends me, and he knows the ways and rituals of the temple. Benwal serves Stycus, and he will teach you how to dance; he is the best of the temple dancers.”

Benwal, a lean, dark-skinned eunuch in his late twenties smiled at the accolade.

“Nester,” Jarus continued with an amused smile at the youngest of the three high priests’ servants – a short, moppy-haired youth who was surprisingly well-built for a eunuch – “Nester will teach you all the things you aren’t supposed to learn. But he will also teach you acrobatics.”

Jarus’ face grew serious again as he turned back to them. “The Oracle of Kaleh receives wisdom from the goddess. Great and mighty men come to seek her. They expect to hear divine wisdom. They expect to see spectacle. You will be part of that spectacle.” He pulled himself up proudly, staring down his nose at them. “You must always bring honor to this temple and to the Oracle.”

The priests then turned and left. The boys remained quiet. Ono motioned for them to sit down, and they did.

“I will begin by telling you where you do and do not belong in the temple,” Ono said. “Once the Oracle arrives, you will spend most of your time in the shrine. Four of you are already quartered there. The shrine is yours. You may go anywhere in the shrine. Few others will be allowed there. You may also go anywhere on the temple grounds except for the rear and side porticos of the temple. The side porticos are for female temple prostitutes. The rear portico is for male and eunuch prostitutes.” He gazed at them solemnly. “You will not go there or associate with them. You belong to the Oracle.”

“And you will not leave the temple grounds,” Benwal added. “You are bound to the Oracle. Only if the Oracle leaves to travel, will you ever leave these grounds.”

“The last Oracle rarely left the shrine, much less the temple,” Nester informed them.

“Once the Oracle arrives,” Ono continued, “you will constantly be at her side whenever she is out of her quarters, and often when she is in. The Abij-hah will rarely leave her at all.”

“But being confined to the temple isn’t bad,” Nester said quickly. “Many things go on here. People come from distant provinces and far lands. People are going to come to see you as well as the Oracle. Everybody’s already talking about you. There hasn’t been an Oracle as young as this one in a hundred years, and no attendants as young as you six, or as… well,” he grinned widely, “as beautiful. Benwal is going to teach you how to dance, and I will teach you acrobatics. You will be famous!”

“Don’t get them too full of themselves, Nester,” Benwal chided. He turned to the young eunuchs, crossed his arms, and frowned.. “You are slaves… servants. You serve only at the pleasure of the Oracle and high priests. Now,” he said, pulling himself up and staring down his nose at them much like Jarus had earlier, “we will tell you how you must conduct yourself in the presence of the Oracle and the important and mighty people who will come to see her.”

Later, when they stood to leave the anteroom, Jeet was surprised to see that Bantu was the shortest of them all. His long torso had made him appear to be tall when they were seated. Bantu’s legs were not grotesquely short; not at all. He had a pleasing, well-built body, and a wide, honest face. Tazaar and Ptolemy were tallest. Jin and Aruli were roughly Jeet’s height. But between the tallest and the shortest, there was less than eight inches difference in height; they had been purchased as a matched set.

They stepped outside. Once more, priests and worshipers stared. But this time, they were staring at all six boys. Jeet kept close to the others, and felt better that he wasn’t by himself. He bumped shoulders with Aruli. The other boy glanced at him, took Jeet’s hand, and they walked close together.

+ + + + +

“Ono says it helps,” Jeet said, as he set down the same kind of salt water bath that Ono had been drawing for him. He pulled off Aruli’s loincloth and pointed to the shallow bowl. “You sit in it.”

It was late afternoon and an hour before the evening sacrifice. Jarus wouldn’t be back to his quarters for three hours, and Ono had given Jeet permission to take Aruli back to their quarters to give him a sit-bath.

Aruli’s penis was long like Jeet’s, and with no balls behind it, it hung straight down; again like Jeet’s. Aruli sat down in the bowl, and Jeet knelt in front of him.

Aruli made a face. “It stings.”

“But it’s good for you, and it will start feeling better.”

Aruli nodded and his eyes drifted down Jeet’s body. “Were you born a slave?” he asked.

Jeet shook his head. “No.”

“I wasn’t either,” Aruli said. “But my family is poor and they needed the money, and…” Aruli’s words trailed off, and his brow furrowed. He was caught unexpectedly by emotion, and his eyes filled with tears. He looked away.

Jeet wondered what it would feel like to be sold by your own family. To be sold for a eunuch. He put his hand onto Aruli’s shoulder and squeezed.

Aruli glanced at him, tears streaming down his cheeks. “I have older brothers, but my little brother… I look after him,” he said, his voice barely audible.

Jeet nodded. “I have a sister.” And then his own feelings swept over him as he thought of Weela. He resisted crying; he always resisted crying – he was from a family of warriors; Praxis had told him that. But he and Aruli were alone, and tears came. He knelt up and hugged Aruli by the neck, and the boys wept together.

+ + + + +

Ono stood beside naked Jarus, the Most High Priest, and scrubbed his back with a cloth. They were in one of the private bathing rooms built into the side of the river below the temple. The walls were brightly painted with nude figures of gods, goddesses, men with erections, and women; many copulating. Light from the setting sun reflected off the river and came through open colonnades. Broad stone steps led down into the water, and since this was a bathing room for high priests, aromatic cedar branches and various flowers adorned the room. Two oil lamps added light from insets in the wall.

Ono and Jarus stood in water up to mid-thigh. Ono scrubbed down from the priest’s shoulders. He dipped the cloth into the water and continued down the priest’s back and butt and down his legs. Then he used a strigil, a scraping tool, over the same areas.

Though in his fifties, Jarus’ body was still lean. Ono worked over it carefully.

Jeet watched from the top step while plucking at Ono’s harp. He saw the high priest’s cock rise. When Ono moved around to the priest’s front, the older man ran his hands over Ono’s shoulders as Ono scrubbed the priest’s chest and belly.

Jeet watched as the priest kissed Ono’s neck and then ran his hands down over the young man’s sides. He removed Ono’s loincloth and tossed it up onto the steps. Then Jarus reached down between Ono’s legs and fondled him, taking his servant’s dangling penis into his hand.

Ono’s cock began to thicken, and Jeet watched, fascinated as the high priest knelt down before his servant and took the young eunuch’s growing erection into his mouth. Jeet hadn’t had an erection in the three days since they had removed his balls, and it vaguely surprised him that a eunuch could have one. It surprised him that he was getting one himself.

The priest was getting to his feet now. Though Ono’s cock was small for his body, he was fully erect. The priest pulled Ono to him with an arm behind the young man’s waist. Their erections pressed between their bodies while Jarus kissed Ono’s neck. He ran his hand over Ono’s shoulder and side. He turned his servant around and pulled the young man’s body backward to his own. Jarus wrapped an arm around Ono’s chest and sucked on the side of the young eunuch’s neck while, with his other hand, he reached down between the back of Ono’s legs, rubbing his fingers up under Ono’s perineum and onto his empty scrotum.

Jeet plucked the harp and watched as the priest stooped to gather water in his hand and then ladled the wetness into Ono’s crack. Jarus held the back of Ono’s shoulders with one hand and aimed his cock into Ono’s crack with the other. He bent his knees slightly and angled his erection up into Ono’s rounded bottom.

Ono held still as the priest pressed all the way in and pulled Ono back, until the young eunuch’s butt flattened against Jarus’ loins. The older man wrapped an arm around Ono’s chest and another around the young man’s belly and pulled him upright and back so that the priest’s chest pressed the back of Ono’s shoulders. Once more, he pressed his open mouth to the side of Ono’s neck and sucked as he ground up into the young man. Ono seemed to like it, and wriggled back against him.

Jeet’s hand dropped under his loincloth to his own cock. Ono glanced at him, noticed the boy’s erection, and smiled before closing his eyes.

Ono laid his head back on Jarus’ shoulder, and stroked his erection as Jarus moved both their hips with his grinding. When Jarus started pumping his hips harder, Ono bent over, placing his hands on his knees to steady himself.

Jarus grabbed the young man by the hips and pounded faster. His sinewy muscles worked under his skin, and without his priest’s robes, Jarus, even at his age, looked male and vital.

He drove hard, rocking Ono. Then he bent over him, wrapping his arms under Ono’s belly and chest while he thrust firmly from his hips. He pumped faster, and Jeet heard the same “Ah! Ah!” that signaled Jarus’ climaxes in the night when he was in bed with a priestess or two.

Jarus drove hard and held it. His butt flexed with the last pumping of his semen. Then he relaxed onto the back of the young eunuch with a deep sigh.

Slowly, they stood, Jarus holding and nuzzling Ono tenderly before they rinsed themselves once more and came up from the water.

The priest glanced at Jeet and smiled. “Ono was my ‘boy’ from when he was much younger than you,” he said. He turned to Ono and gave the eunuch’s shoulder an affectionate squeeze. “Mind you,” he said, looking into Ono’s eyes, “he was never a mere catamite; not to me.” He let go of Ono’s shoulder and patted his back.. “We were much younger back then, weren’t we Ono?”

“Yes, holy one,” Ono said with a smile and a light incline of his head.

With a grin, Jarus turned back to Jeet. “Damned if Ono didn’t almost put me off women.”

Ono brought towels, and he and Jeet dried the high priest and rubbed his body with scented oil. They placed fresh robes on his body and knelt to return the scandals to his feet. Then they quickly dried Ono and put his loincloth back on. Ono removed the lamps from the walls and handed one to Jeet. They left the bathhouse, and Ono preceded Jarus – Jeet followed – as they returned to the priest’s quarters.

“You play the harp well, Jeet,” Jarus observed as they walked.

“He only began today, holy one,” Ono told him.

Jarus glanced back at the boy, pleased at another confirmation of the wisdom of his purchase. “Impressive,” he said.

That night, after Jarus was asleep on his bed, Ono and Jeet shed their loincloths and lay down on Ono’s pallet. They pulled a woven blanket over themselves because of the evening chill, and Ono pulled the boy’s body back to himself to spoon the boy like he had the night before.

“Ono?” Jeet whispered softly.

“Yes?” Ono whispered back.

“I didn’t know that my cock would still get hard… you know, after losing… after…”

Ono smiled. “Eunuchs get erections,” he whispered. “And we often shoot juice, though it is clear and watery – there is no seed in it.” He nuzzled the top of the boy’s head. “Had you started coming yet… before they cut you?”

Jeet nodded silently.

“Eunuchs can enjoy sex, Jeet. You will still enjoy it. We aren’t as… driven as men. But if we have sex often and regularly, our cocks will not shrink. And if we keep our bodies fit, we will want sex. If we keep our bodies fit, we keep our spirits strong.”

Ono kissed the top of the boy’s head. “That is why we will teach you acrobatics and dance. Eunuchs can grow weak, but we will keep you strong, or… as strong as we can.”

“Why did they make us eunuchs, Ono?” Jeet asked.

Ono shrugged.. “Followers of the goddess do it to be like Attis. But men castrate servants to take the spirit from us. To make us less than men. Eunuchs are weaker. Eunuchs aren’t fighters. We can sire no children, so we are safe with their women, and we have no family, no sons, to avenge what might be done to us. A eunuch is not a person to them, Jeet. But we know who we are,” he whispered. “We are men.”

The boy was quiet. Ono pulled back from the boy, turning Jeet onto his back so he could see his face. He smiled at the boy. Then silently, he kissed down the boy’s neck and chest, skillfully using his tongue and fingers. He did it partly to instruct the boy in lovemaking, partly to show him that he could still find sexual enjoyment, but mostly because he had wanted to make love to the boy from the moment he first saw him.

He took Jeet’s thickening member into his mouth and he was pleased. The boy had a long cock. Without testicles, it might grow no larger, but it was large already, and definitely large for the boy’s body.

Jeet’s penis was salty from his sit-baths, and Ono licked off the salt. He pulled back the boy’s foreskin and tasted there. The boy had a good taste, but he would need to clean more thoroughly. Ono began to suck, and the boy responded, grabbing the sides of Ono’s head and moving his hips under him.

Ono would teach Jeet the way eunuchs made love; slowly, tenderly, enjoyably. He sighed, pleased with the feel and taste of the boy in his mouth.

And then the boy surprised him. He bent up to tug under Ono’s arm and made it clear that he wanted Ono to reverse body positions with him. Ono complied, and soon felt the end of his cock enclosed by a warm, wet mouth.

The boy would need no training at all, Ono quickly realized with a gasp.

+ + + + +

Jeet woke feeling both happy and sad. He remembered the night before and thought at first he was happy because of what he had done with Ono. Ono was still sleeping, and Jeet was laying with his head on Ono’s shoulder and his arm over Ono’s chest. He hugged the young man, and kissed the smooth skin of his chest.

Ono was so different from Praxis. Ono had warm, soft skin and a soft touch. He smelled good, even between the legs where he had a slight tang to his scent; not the sometimes overwhelming male scent of Praxis.

Then Jeet remembered the dream. It was about Weela. She was seated in front of Jason, the governor’s son, on a horse. They were riding and laughing beside the river. They were going somewhere. In his dream, they were riding toward their future… together.

That was why he awakened both happy and sad; the dream was real to him. In his heart, Jeet knew that Weela and Jason were together; were going to be together. He was happy for Weela; sad that he wasn’t with her.

+ + + + +

Over the next couple of days, the heaviness in Jeet’s heart gave way to bits of happiness as he made friends with the other eunuchs; his first friends ever, other than Weela. And though they were eunuchs, they were boys. Jeet liked being with them. He liked when Bantu or Aruli made him laugh.

Sadness came less frequently.

+ + + + +

They grabbed bread from the stack of loaves the cooks had set out for the evening sacrifice, and then Aruli led them a back way to stairs up onto the temple’s outer walls. They followed the top of the wall behind the shrine to an enclosed parapet that extended over the water. Along the river, torches and lamps lit people who were out on their roofs in the cool of twilight. On the hill above, the citadel was eerily pale in the dimming light.

There was a bench in the parapet, and Aruli sat down in the middle of it. Jeet took a seat beside him, but before taking his seat on Aurili’s other side, Jin, the albino boy, danced in a circle, swiveling his hips as Benwal had taught them.

Jeet and Aruli whistled and clapped rhythmically, cheering him on. Jin grinned and then sat down beside them. “I like dancing,” he said.

“You’re a good dancer,” Jeet said, encouragingly.

“Did Jin’s dancing make your cock hard?” Aruli asked Jeet, laughing as he threw his arm over Jeet’s shoulders.

“Hey,” Jin said, leaning closer. “I’ve awakened two mornings now with my cock hard.”

“Me, too,” Aruli said, growing serious. “I didn’t know we could still get hard cocks.”

“That’s not all,” Jeet said, confidentially. “Ono and I suck each other’s cocks every night.”

“No!” Jin said, surprised. “Do you come?”

Jeet nodded. “Sometimes we suck a long time and I come more than once. And,” Jeet said, lowering his voice. “I still squirt. So does Ono.”

The jaws of the two other boys dropped.

Jeet smiled. “Ono says eunuchs can shoot, even if they lost their balls before they started shooting. Of course,” he said with a brief frown, “our seed is not in our juice.” Then he smiled again. “He also says that it’s important for us to have sex a lot, or our cocks can shrink and we’ll get lazy. He says our bodies will like it if we have a lot of sex.”

“So that’s why you yawn all the time?” Jin said with a grin. “You and Ono are sucking each other’s cocks all night.”

Jeet reached across and gave Jin a playful shove. He had never kidded around with other boys before, but he was learning from them, and enjoying it.

Jin’s look became serious. “You know why Tazaar looks so bad all the time?”

Jeet and Aruli shook their heads.

“Stycus fucks him every night.”

“I thought no one was supposed to do that to us!” Aruli said in surprise.

“I suppose none of the other priests know about it,” Jin said.

They considered that while they each took a bite of bread.

Aruli looked right and then left, and swallowed. “Maybe we’re supposed to have sex,” he said. He looked at Jeet. “If you and Ono are sucking each other’s cock, that’s having sex, right? And worship of Cybele is all about sex, right? I mean, isn’t having sex in front of the goddess what they do in the temple?”

Jeet shook his head. “Ono says that since this is the only temple in the city, other worshipers than Cybele’s come here to make offerings to the gods. The temple has statues of other gods and goddesses besides the great statue of Cybele.”

They were silent a moment, thinking, and then Jeet turned to the others. “I think we can have sex,” he said. “But since we belong to the Oracle, maybe we’re only supposed to have sex with each other or other eunuchs.”

“With each other?” Aruli asked nervously.

Jeet and Jin exchanged glances.

“I’ve never had sex,” Aruli whispered.

Jeet looked around, making sure no one was in a position to see them, and then he dropped to his knees in front of Aruli. Sex was something he had already been trained for; he knew what to do for his new friend, Aruli.

“What are you going to do?” Aruli asked with a gasp.

“You’ll see,” Jeet said, as he lifted Aruli’s loincloth, spread Aruli’s legs apart, and pulled Aruli’s hips forward.

Aruli’s eyes went wide, and he sucked in his gut as Jeet rested his elbows outside Aruli’s thighs and lifted his friend’s flaccid cock with the fingers of both hands.

Jeet admired it for a moment as it began to grow; a young cock like his own. He looked over Aruli’s slender legs and flat belly – so much more like Weela’s and his own than like Praxis’. Aruli’s soft skin was supple; his body lean. The skin of Aruli’s empty scrotum, like the skin of his cock, was moist, healthy, flushed. Jeet inhaled through his nose, sampling Aruli’s scent… a boy scent, like his own.

Aruli’s cock stiffened. With a quick, upward glance and reassuring smile for his friend, Jeet gave Aruli’s cock a squeeze, and then leaned forward.

Aruli shuddered as Jeet’s mouth closed over his cock. Then Aruli and Jin watched breathlessly as Jeet’s mouth descended down two-thirds the length of Aruli’s shaft before he paused and worked his mouth. Aruli gasped, grabbing Jeet’s slender shoulders with both hands.

Jeet pulled his head back, exposing Aruli’s saliva-slicked shaft all the way up to the crown before descending slowly back down its length. And then his head began to bob.

With a moan, Aruli closed his arms loosely over Jeet’s shoulders and his head fell forward over Jeet’s.

Jin scooted closer, one hand dropping under his own loincloth. He rested his other hand on Jeet’s slender back and gave it a small rub while he leaned close. “Jeet, will you do that to me, too?”

Jeet lifted his head from Aruli’s lap. “I will teach you,” Jeet said, “and you two can do this for each other, and you can do it for me when the Oracle comes and they move me to the shrine.”

Jin scooted his hips forward and lifted his loincloth to reveal albino-white loins, a pink scrotum, and a thick, pink erection. “If you’re picked as the Abij-hah,” Jin asked, “will you sleep with us or with her?”

Jeet took each of their cocks in a hand and bent toward Jin’s. He shrugged. “Even if I sleep in the Oracle’s chambers, we can still do this together, right?”

Jin nodded immediately. Aruli, eyes still closed, nodded and murmured agreement.

+ + + + +

That night, Ono taught Jeet something new. Though Jeet had sex with Praxis and his sister almost every night for two years, some sexual practices are not common to every culture.

After Jarus and the priestess in his bed that night were asleep, Jeet rolled to his back and smiled, ready to suck cocks with Ono again. But instead of reversing body position, Ono moved up over him, his chest over Jeet’s. He gazed down into Jeet’s eyes and lowered his mouth to Jeet’s. The boy expected a kiss, and that is what he received.

But then he felt Ono’s tongue probe between his lips, and Jeet’s mouth dropped open with a giggle. The giggle was quickly smothered, however, as Ono covered Jeet’s open mouth with his own, and quickly probed in with his tongue.

Jeet squirmed under him, but his squirming slowed. Jeet murmured pleasantly and ran his fingers into Ono’s hair.

Jeet woke with his head resting on Ono’s chest; he was looking down Ono’s naked body. It was dawn, and, in the light of early morning, Jeet could see the almost invisible, fine body hair on Ono’s belly being ruffled by the morning breeze.

Jeet hugged onto Ono and snuggled closer. Remembering the things they did with their tongues the night before, Jeet thought about teaching Aruli and Jin how to kiss that way. But then he decided not to. It was too… intimate… at least for now.

+ + + + +

Jeet, Jin, and Aruli grabbed bread from the midday sacrifice and headed for their parapet hide-away. They passed a slave boy who was only a couple of years older than the two fourteen-year-olds and Jeet. The slave boy was struggling with a heavy, two-handled chamber pot as he headed toward the river. The pot was a communal pot for the priestess’ quarters.

Jeet turned aside to help the boy. “I can take one handle,” he offered, “so that it doesn’t spill on you.”

The other boy stopped, surprised by the offer of help.

“It looks heavy,” Jeet said.

The boy nodded, and then made a face. “It’s full of shit.”

Jeet nodded. “We can smell it.”

The boy, slightly taller and much more solidly built than Jeet, had a light mustache, and it was clear from the bulge in the front of his loincloth that he was not a eunuch. In the world of temple slaves, even a slave who carried chamber pots, if he still had his testicles, might look down on a eunuch; even one who served the Oracle. The reverse was also true – an attendant to the Oracle might look down on a temple slave. The boy studied Jeet for a moment, but saw only openness. “Thanks,” he said.

“I’ll catch up to you,” Jeet told the others as he took one of the pot handles.

They continued on toward the river. “I am Jeet,” the young eunuch said.

“I know,” the slave boy said. “Everyone knows who you are. I am Sydal. I serve the priests.” He glanced at Jeet. “Are you going to be Abij-hah?” he asked.

Jeet shrugged. “The Oracle is the one who chooses.”

“Do you want to be Abij-hah?” Sydal asked.

Jeet nodded. “Yes. I have decided that I do.”

Sydal thrust forward his chin. “Then I hope you are chosen,” he said as the two of them reached the down-river, stone pier designated for the dumping of chamber pots.

+ + + + +

Ono and Nester led the six boys to the Oracle’s private bathhouse, just below the shrine. The bathhouse was much like that used by the high priests, only at mid-day there was no need for lamps; ample light came through openings high up the walls and from beyond the colonnades which, by their staggered placement, screened the bathing steps from the river proper.

Ono and Nester stripped off their loincloths and, grabbing wash cloths, they stepped down into the water. “You are servants of the Oracle,” Ono said in a high, clear voice. “From time to time, you may serve guests of the Oracle as well. And,” he said, taking Nester’s hand, “you are servants to each other. Today, you will learn to bathe someone else by learning to bathe each other. Nester and I will show you how, and then you will wash each other.”

The boys watched as the two young men gently, but smoothly scrubbed each other’s bodies with oil and clothes, and then with strigils. Nester’s body was more firmly built, and he had managed to grow a small patch of pubic hair before he was castrated. His cock was thicker than Ono’s. Jeet envied Nester’s body.

The two older eunuchs dried each other and applied scented oils to their hair and bodies. As they did, Jin and Aruli drifted closer to Jeet, wanting to bathe with him. Redheaded Bantu, who was the shortest of them, drifted closer to tall, thin, Ptolemy, and that left Tazaar standing alone.

Ono noticed the arrangement and glanced pointedly at Jeet. Jeet glanced at Tazaar who was looking at no one. The older boy looked haggard and alone. Though Jeet knew Tazaar didn’t like him, he had no reason to not like Tazaar. With an apologetic glance at Jin and Aruli, he stepped over beside Tazaar.

Tazaar glanced at him, but Jeet didn’t meet his gaze. He simply stepped alongside. Tazaar looked away again.

“Alright,” Ono said, “everyone strip.”

The boys removed their loincloths and stepped from their sandals as the two young men handed them each rough linen cloths and strigils to scrub each other with. The boys stepped into the water, and Jeet noticed two things about Tazaar: that like Nester, he had a small patch of pubic hair and a heavy cock, and that there were light bruises on Tazaar’s bottom.

Without meeting Tazaar’s gaze, Jeet wet his cloth and began on Tazaar’s back. The older boy stood stiffly as Jeet worked down his back with the cloth and strigil. When he reached Tazaar’s compact, pale-skinned bottom, he scrubbed more tenderly over the older boy’s bruises, guessing where they came from; guessing that they came from Stycus. Jeet touched the largest bruise gently with his fingertips.

Tazaar turned quickly, eyeing Jeet suspiciously. Jeet glanced up without expression, and then he knelt in the water and began working on the backs of Tazaar’s legs. He worked efficiently, and soon came around to Tazaar’s front, still on his knees. He cleaned the older boy’s calves and thighs, rising higher.

Nester laid an arm over Ono’s shoulders and they watched Jeet work. The other boys glanced at them from time to time as well.

Tazaar widened his stance as Jeet cleaned up between his legs. When Tazaar’s cock began to thicken, Jeet gently skinned it back and carefully washed it. Then he scrubbed the older boy’s belly and up to his chest and pecs. He scrubbed over Tazaar’s shoulders and up his neck, but Jeet didn’t raise his eyes to meet Tazaar’s. He kept them down, on his work.

Jeet laid the wet cloth over his index finger and, with his fingertip, gently cleaned Tazaar’s face and under his eyes. He glanced at Ono and nodded toward a ladle. Ono brought it to him, and Jeet ladled water over Tazaar’s head.

The older boy’s hair was thick and almost as long as Jeet’s. Jeet admired the gold in it. He smoothed it appreciatively with his hand. Ono brought him a comb and Jeet began to comb through Tazaar’s brown and gold locks. He pulled the older boy’s head forward and down until the boy’s forehead rested on Jeet’s shoulder. He worked carefully with both hands as he combed back Tazaar’s hair. Tazaar rested his hands on Jeet’s sides to steady himself, and he relaxed to the gentle grooming.

Once the few tangles were gone, Jeet combed with only one hand, and used the other to lightly stroke Tazaar’s back, even as the other pairs of boys progressed with their bathing, and changed partners. Aruli made some remark to Jin and the two splashed each other. Ono stepped over to calm them down, and they splashed him as well.

With the others no longer watching Jeet and Tazaar, Tazaar lifted his head, and his eyes were damp. With no one noticing, Jeet nodded slightly and kissed Tazaar gently on the lips. Their eyes met silently. Then Tazaar stooped and wet his rag and he did for Jeet all the things Jeet had done for him; even cleaning Jeet’s partially erect cock.

When he reached Jeet’s hair, he pulled the younger boy’s head onto his shoulder, and was surprised how at good it felt there as he combed the back of Jeet’s hair. When he finished, and Jeet lifted his head, their eyes met once again. “I still want to be Abij-hah,” Tazaar said.

Jeet nodded.

Tazaar smiled, hesitantly. Jeet smiled back. They turned and followed after the others who had already stepped up from the water.

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