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 7 – Defiance

The English word eunuch is from the Greek eune ("bed") and ekhein ("to keep"), effectively "bed keeper." Wikipedia

The young Oracle woke and nuzzled under the side of Jeet’s face. Her legs were entwined with his, and her breasts gently brushed his chest as they breathed. His scent filled her nostrils, and the feel of his body comforted her. Anda was reluctant to get up, even though she needed to relieve herself.

She leaned back to look at him as he slept. Behind Jeet, the balcony was awash in moonlight, and Jeet’s skin was pale in the reflected light. Her eyes fell to his long, thick eyelashes. Boys sometimes had such beautiful eyelashes, she thought. Her eyes traveled over the fine arch of his eyebrows, over his high cheekbones, his thin, straight nose, his mouth… lips slightly parted… lips she had focused on the first time she saw him.

Though only thirteen-years-old, Anda had learned through painful experience to guard her heart against many things. That included guarding her heart against boys who looked like Jeet. She considered popular boys and pretty girls to be at the other end of the human spectrum from a hermaphrodite, no matter how well-born that hermaphrodite might be. To them, she was a freak; an oddity, and to be shunned, sometimes even by her own brothers.

Anda had expected the same from Jeet. She had expected condescension. She assumed from his appearance that he would be vain; hugely vain. But now as she lay there studying the gentle face of this boy from the gods, she marveled that the most beautiful boy of all was possibly the most selfless.

He had offered her his heart… even more than his heart. Had the gods bewitched Jeet for her? Had they bewitched her for him? If so, she wished the bewitchment to never end.

Her eyes traveled over his slender shoulders, over the reflected moonlight on his soft skin, over the small, perfectly shaped ear that showed between strands of his black hair… straight, black hair which lay over the side of his face and down along his neck. She moved her hips and felt his flaccid cock against her bottom leg.

Anda pulled back from him, carefully, and climbed up off the bed. She crossed to the chamber pot and stood to relieve herself as she looked out across the moonlit river. She glanced down between her breasts to her phallus and the stream shooting from it into the chamber pot. When she stood like this, she felt completely as if she were a boy. There hadn’t been a day she could remember that she hadn’t wished that she had simply been born a boy. But now… she glanced back at Jeet with the memory of how he felt inside her, and she felt warmth in her vagina. Her phallus began to stiffen, even as she shook off.

As she was watching him, Jeet rolled to his stomach and his eyes opened. He smiled at her.

Anda returned quietly and sat next to him. She leaned onto one arm and smoothed his long hair off his back and off the back of his shoulders. Then she drew her fingertips down the long muscles along his spine, feeling the softness of his skin and the hardness of the muscles beneath… down… down to his small waist. Lifting her hand, she did it again, drawing her fingers down his back. She felt the easy rise and fall of his slender torso as he breathed. Extremely fine body hairs fanned up from the base of his spine; a light dusting of silver that glittered in the moonlight because of an evening breeze. She ran her fingertips over them and felt only air.

Her eyes dropped to his narrow hips, and she slid her palm over his small, smooth-skinned buttocks. He was still only a boy… simply a beautiful boy. She drew one finger down his tailbone and into the dark cleft of his butt. Her eyes continued past her fingers to the moonlit skin of his long-muscled legs.

Quietly, she stretched out beside him and leaned her body onto his side; her eyes even with his. She smoothed his hair from the side of his face and kissed the warm flesh at the nape of his neck.

With a sleepy smile, Jeet reached an arm over her, and rolling up onto his side, pulled the young Oracle once more into his arms. They kissed, and their legs entwined. He pulled her breasts to his chest, and once more, she nuzzled in under the side of his face.

+ + + + +

“Tell them I am not coming out today,” the Oracle told her young eunuchs. “Tell them I am sick and staying in bed, and that I require Jeet to attend me.”

The five boys – Tazaar, Aruli, Jin, Bantu, and Ptolemy – stood around the Oracle’s bed, looking down at her and Jeet. The two lay under a light, cotton blanket; Anda resting with the back of her head on Jeet’s arm, and Jeet resting with a leg cocked over Anda’s.

“We brought food, Oracle. Do you wish us to withdraw while you eat?” Ptolemy asked.

“Leave the food,” she said. “Withdraw… no … wait.” She raised her hand.

They all paused.

“You should know,” she said, “I have chosen Jeet to be Abij-hah.”

Bantu smiled and nodded. “We guessed, Oracle.”

She looked from one to the other of them, looking for any sign of disapproval. “My decision does not disappoint any of you?” she asked, mildly surprised.

Tazaar bowed. “We are all disappointed Oracle, because we would each have liked to be Abij-hah. But we are happy for Jeet, and we are happy for you, Oracle.”

Aruli, remembering the easy familiarity he shared with the Oracle two nights before, came to kneel beside her. “Oracle, we all remain your attendants. We… all of us,” he said, as he glanced around at the others, “we are all bound to you for life… just as much as Jeet is. He is our brother, and now you are our sister.”

“And brother,” Jeet said, smiling at the Oracle.

They all glanced at him – Aruli with a lopsided grin because he assumed Jeet had made a poor joke. But Jeet looked up at them and his face was serious. He nodded toward Anda-Alexander beside him, and beneath the cover, he rested his hand between the Oracle’s breasts. “The gods have given the Oracle the heart and spirit of a boy, as well as a girl.” Jeet smiled once more at the Oracle, and under the cotton blanket, he slid his hand down the flat of the Oracle’s belly. “And the gods have given her,” he added, smiling into her eyes, “all the best parts of a boy’s body and a girl’s.”

The eunuchs glanced at each other. Tazaar nodded his understanding. Aruli smiled at them benevolently. “We’ve all got cocks and none of us have balls,” Bantu murmured with a cockeyed grin. Ptolemy elbowed him. “We’re all brothers then,” Jin said, cheerily.

The Oracle glanced from face to face. Were they all so convivial and so accepting of her choice of Jeet because they were eunuchs? Did the loss of their balls make them gentle? She thought so, but realized that there must be more to it than that. Perhaps it was the fortunate blend of their personalities. Perhaps it was because of their common love for Jeet. Perhaps it was because they were so easily intimate with each other. Or perhaps it was because they were bound together for life, and they had reconciled to that fact. These things all passed through her mind, and she decided she should give them more thought, because she was more than their mistress and master; she was bound to them for life as well.

In that moment, looking from face to face, Anda felt a warm affection for each take root in her heart. She let it. She liked it. She liked belonging to them. But then Jeet’s hand reached her phallus, and she liked that as well.

“Leave the food… little brothers, and give my message to the priests,” she said. Then she grinned, because she had called them her ‘little brothers,’ and she was younger than them all.

Aruli bent and kissed her cheek, and then leaned farther and kissed Jeet’s. “Jeet-hah,” he said softly to his friend.

One by one, each of the other attendants to the Oracle came and knelt beside her. They kissed her, and then Jeet, and then left the room.

When they were gone, Anda rolled up against Jeet to press her erection against his, and she was pleased to find that he was indeed hard. Jeet wrapped her in his arms. She smiled, stroking back his hair. “Jeet-hah,” she said, testing the familiar sobriquet on her tongue – “Jeet, beloved” – “Today I want you to tell me all about them – these new, little brothers of mine. Tell me all about each one, and then tell me all about you.”

When Bantu and Ptolemy returned an hour later to clear away the meal, they quietly came up the stairs from their quarters. Taller Ptolemy standing behind Bantu, they peeked around the corner at the top of the stairs to see if Jeet and the Oracle were ready to have the meal cleared.

The meal was untouched.

The Oracle was on her back on her bedding, angled away from them. Jeet was laying on her, legs between her legs. Her hands clutched his butt, and his hips were slowly rising and falling. His legs were apart just enough that, without balls to block the view, Bantu and Ptolemy could see Jeet’s cock sliding in and out between the stretched labia at the base of the Oracle’s small vulva.

As they watched, the Oracle moved her hands up Jeet’s flexing back, and she wrapped her legs around his waist, locking her ankles over his butt. Her pelvis rocked languidly to meet his languid thrusts.

The two boys watched from behind the wall for several moments. They watched, not the Oracle of Kaleh and her Abij-hah, but a boy and a girl their own age… making love. They heard the murmur of Jeet’s voice, and then a light laugh from the Oracle. And then silence except for the soft slapping of their joining… their rhythm increased.

Ptolemy’s breath grew hot on the back of Bantu’s shoulder. The younger boy reached behind his back, and his hand came up against Ptolemy’s breechcloth to press flat over Ptolemy’s erection through the linen. Ptolemy slid the palms of his hands up the front of Bantu’s chest, and pulled Bantu back against himself, bare back to bare chest, and he ground himself against Bantu’s hand.

Mouthing the nape of Bantu’s neck, Ptolemy reached between their bodies to work Bantu’s breechcloth out from the shorter boy’s butt crack. Silently, Bantu tugged the front of Ptolemy’s breechcloth to the side to free the taller boy’s cock. Once freed, Bantu rubbed it against his butt.

Their eyes stayed on the young couple on the bed… on the rising and falling of Jeet’s tight, smooth butt and the appearance and reappearance of Jeet’s long cock from inside the Oracle… on the two pairs of long, smooth-skinned legs… on the play of muscles in those legs… and butt… and back. Silently, Ptolemy drooled into his hand and applied the saliva to his cock while Bantu did the same, applying the saliva to his own butt.

Ptolemy bent his knees, angling his cock up into Bantu’s butt crack. He found his lover’s opening and eased slowly in until Bantu’s bottom was snug between Ptolemy’s legs, his tightness was at the base of Ptolemy’s shaft, and the front of Ptolemy’s body pressed and molded to the back of Bantu’s. It was all Ptolemy could do to keep from purring in Bantu’s ear. Nothing felt better than being with Bantu like this. With his long arms, Ptolemy reached in front of Bantu and into his breechcloth. He closed his long fingers around Bantu’s thick cock, pulling it up and free. Then they began to move slowly as they watched.

When Jeet’s butt started clenching harder and faster, Ptolemy thrust more solidly into Bantu’s firm bottom. As moans drifted up softly from the bed, Bantu and Ptolemy struggled to keep silent.

Jeet thrust faster. Anda’s slender hands clutched at his back; her hips pumped up to meet his. Jeet brought his legs together and began grinding into his thrusts. Ptolemy pulled Bantu’s body back with an arm around his chest and one around his belly; the inside of his legs clutching the outside of Bantu’s as he pumped from his hips. Bantu took over stroking his own cock while Ptolemy held him tightly and pressed his full length up into Bantu with each thrust.

The Oracle’s moans became soft, rhythmic cries that grew slowly louder. Jeet moaned with her, and then gasped sharply as his orgasm hit. He arched back, pressed in deep, and held it while the Oracle’s legs thrashed, and she ground out her orgasm on his cock.

Ptolemy pulled Bantu back behind the wall and began pounding in earnest. Bantu twisted from the hips and they kissed, and then Bantu turned back to the wall and leaned forward, planting his feet wide. Ptolemy leaned his forehead onto the back of Bantu’s head, and they closed their eyes in concentration.

They knew each other. They knew what each liked when they made love this way. They knew how to move and how to climax close together. They were so accustomed to each other and their lovemaking that they didn’t realize the soft, familiar sounds of their movements would be overheard. They thought they were being silent.

Bantu bit his tongue as he came; his semen dribbling out onto the wall and floor. Ptolemy pressed his mouth to the side of Bantu’s neck to silence his own gasps as he joined him.

They slowed and quietly forced their breathing back to normal. They opened their eyes, and were startled.

Jeet and the Oracle stood beside them; the Oracle in front. Jeet’s arms around her enclosed them both in the cotton blanket from the bed.

Bantu and Ptolemy froze. “Oracle,” Bantu said with a gasp.

“We came up to clear the food…” Ptolemy lamely started to explain.

The eyes of both Jeet and the Oracle traveled up and down the still-joined bodies of Bantu and Ptolemy.

“I think they saw us and got excited,” Jeet whispered into the Oracle’s ear, loudly enough for Bantu and Ptolemy to hear.

Ptolemy tried to pull from inside Bantu quickly, but before he could tuck his semi-hard cock back into his breechcloth, Jeet and the Oracle got a good look. They had already gotten a good look at Bantu, who tucked in more slowly. The two boys straightened their breechcloths.

“We are not done with the meal,” Anda said, still eyeing the bodies of her eunuchs. “You may return later.”

“Yes, Oracle,” they both answered in unison, and then backed toward the stairs.

Jeet glanced at Bantu’s sprinkling on the wall. “You could clean up this wall while you wait,” he said with a chuckle. “You left good omen all over it.”

“Good omen?” the Oracle asked, leaning back in his arms.

Managing to hold the ends of the blanket and close his hands over her breasts at the same time, Jeet told the Oracle about ‘good omen’ as the other boys dashed down the stairs for rags.

When her attendants brought food at midday, the Oracle rose from her bed, naked before them all for the first time since her introduction at the temple, and she let them dress her.

The Oracle invited her servants to join her at her meal, and, following up on things that Jeet and Aruli had already told her, she asked them about their families and backgrounds.

They talked long past the end of their meal. The eunuchs filled Anda in about the temple and the various people there. They all laughed when Bantu and Aruli jumped to their feet to mimic the head priests, especially when Bantu, playing stately Jarus, pantomimed fucking Aruli, who was playing Stycus, from behind, and Aruli’s eyes went wide, his tongue hung out, and he gasped for breath.

“He deserves to be thoroughly screwed,” Tazaar observed with a frown. He glanced at the Oracle. “Stycus, that is, Oracle… not Aruli.”

“Stycus is a pig,” Jin said, agreeing. Then in turn, they related to the Oracle their experiences in Stycus’ chamber.

“He’s a monster,” she said, when Jeet told her and the others about how Stycus fed their testicles to his dog.

The boys nodded, and grew silent.

The Oracle glanced from one to the other, and decided to direct the conversation in a lighter direction. “Tell me about who of you are sleep mates.”

Over the next hour, the Oracle learned more of the attachments between Bantu and Ptolemy, and between Aruli and Jin. When she asked about Tazaar, glancing from him to Jeet, it was clear that she thought they must also have bonded. But Jeet told her about Cyndur and Tazaar, and Tazaar showed her the bracelet Cyndur had given him.

Word spread around the temple that day, and then up through the city, that the Oracle had refused to come from her chamber that morning, even after being implored to do so by the chief priests. Not only had she kept Jeet in her bed, but she had also called all her attendants to join her and they remained secluded in her chambers all afternoon. At the temple, one older prostitute nodded knowingly to another and grinned. “Six ponies,” she said.

Bantu and Ptolemy came out from the shrine at the evening sacrifice to gather food for the Oracle and her attendants. They laughed together, and Bantu threw a friendly arm over the taller boy’s shoulders. Those who saw them exchanged glances. Good things must be happening at the shrine.

That evening, the Oracle invited her attendants to join her once more at her table.

“Do not fill a bath for me tonight,” she said. “I wish to try my bathhouse at the river.”

“Rem!” Aruli called out to the ten-year-old a short time later as they were leaving for the bathhouse. “Gather another servant or two,” he told the boy, “and clear away the Oracle’s meal. We are taking her to the river for her bath.”

Rem obeyed, and even in the darkness, rumors spread though the temple that the Oracle was bathing with her eunuchs.

“If I’m naked,” she told them as she stepped into the water, “then all of you must be.”

Her eunuchs complied, and they stood to let her examine them with her eyes in the lamplight. They examined her as well, and she let them. Her eunuchs had seen her before; they would see her for the rest of her life. So she stood as upright and bold as they did. Her nipples hardened as they eyed her breasts and she let them touch them. None of the boys said anything about her erect nipples or her semi-erect phallus, and she said nothing about theirs. Their mutual acceptance grew.

Jeet showed all of them the use of the oils, salts, sponges, and scraping tool, and the Oracle let them try the oils and salts on each other. “I am wealthy,” she announced. “We have all the treasure of the shrine. We can get more oil and salts.”

Previously, Ptolemy had procured straw mats and the eunuchs laid them out above the steps into the water for them all to lie on for oiling and drying their bodies. While they were finishing, the Oracle grabbed up Jeet’s breechcloth and put it on, pushing it low on her hips the way the boys did. She stood back and put her hands on top of her head. “What do you think?” she asked with a grin.

The boys responded instantly. “Fantastic… incredible… beautiful… sexy… oh yeah, sexy… very sexy...”

The Oracle smiled and swiveled her hips. “It feels sexy,” she observed.

Jeet got to his feet and joined in her impromptu dance. Tazaar joined them next, and then the others. The boys did a slow pivot on one foot while swiveling their hips, low, the way they did during one of the more sensuous portions of their dance. The Oracle imitated them, but her hips moved in a more female fashion. “I wish I could dance with you when you perform,” she said.

Aruli laughed. “Dressed like that… wouldn’t Jarus have a fit!”

“They’d never let you,” Bantu said.

“No,” they all agreed, shaking their heads. “They would never let you.”

When they returned to the Oracle’s chambers, Ptolemy, Tazaar, and Jin combed out the Oracle’s hair and scented it. Bantu prepared and scented her bed. And Aruli combed the hair of the Abij-hah, punctuating his work with affectionate kisses.

The young eunuchs removed the clothing of the Oracle and her Abij-hah and their eyes lingered on the dual erections they exposed; one long, one shorter. Gathering all but one lamp, they backed, bowing from the chamber.

“Good night, Oracle,” Tazaar said for them all, as he backed out the door. “Good night Abij-hah.” He smiled at Jeet.

+ + + + +

Jeet stretched his legs beside the Oracle, careful not to wake her; her head rested on his arm. The sun was about to rise, and soon the temple would be stirring to life. A scent of cedar was in the morning air. Jeet closed his eyes and took a deep whiff. And then he frowned.

Lids on chamber pots were never air-tight, and theirs hadn’t been emptied in over a day. If he was going to be Abij-hah, Jeet decided, he would have to tighten the routines in the temple. He had been a servant in chambers and households. He knew the value of routines. But it was still early and the smell from the pot would only get worse as the day wore on if he waited for one of the other servants to take care of it.

Jeet glanced out beyond the balcony. The day would be clear. Thinking that he would like to go outside for awhile, he carefully extricated his arm from under the Oracle’s head and rose from the bed. She stirred and rolled to her side.

Jeet glanced back at Anda as he put on his linen breechcloth. She was sleeping with her bare butt toward him. Smiling, Jeet knelt beside her. He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to run a hand over her bottom. But he didn’t want to wake her yet. Instead, he pulled the blanket up over her, and then fetching the chamber pot, he headed out to the stairs down to the shrine.

He greeted the guard posted inside the shrine doors and those out on the portico, all by name. There were few people out yet in the temple courtyard. He greeted each by name, smiling, because the morning was cool, and he was well rested. The air was heavy and still, as it sometimes was near the river just before sunrise. The first rooster crows were just rising from outside the compound.

The designated place for dumping chamber pots was at the far end of the complex, downriver beyond the temple. The clay pot was heavy and Jeet paused on the way to rest.

That was when he heard a greeting and turned to see Sydal approaching with a chamber pot of his own. Jeet had helped the older boy once with a chamber pot. It seemed like long ago, though it was little more than a month. Jeet returned the greeting as Sydal set his chamber pot down beside Jeet’s.

“How is my little brother?” Sydal asked.

“Your brother?” Jeet started to ask, but then realized who that must be. Rem had a more slender frame, but the thin, slightly-long nose was the same, as was his firm chin, high cheek bones, curly dark hair, and light brown eyes. Of course, Sydal’s features were those of a testicled youth, and Rem’s were those of a boy, but the resemblance was clear. “Rem is your little brother, isn’t he? He looks like you.”

Sydal nodded with a slight frown. “He should be carrying that pot… or one of the other slaves should.”

“Why?” Jeet asked, stretching once more in the morning air. He enjoyed mornings.

Sydal’s eyes fell to the young eunuch’s lithe body, and he frowned. “Because you are one of the Oracle’s eunuchs. Because it is said you will be the next Abij-hah.”

Jeet grinned and then surprised himself by giving Sydal a friendly shove. In the last, long month, Jeet had become more like other boys, comfortable with boys. He liked the feeling. “I am a servant, too, Sydal,” Jeet said. He picked up his pot. “Besides, I wanted to come outside.”

Sydal followed Jeet down to the pier, and like Jeet, emptied and washed his pot. When Jeet stepped forward to the edge of the pier and pulled aside his breechcloth to loose a stream of morning piss, Sydal came beside him to do the same.

“I told you the first time we met that I hoped you would be Abij-hah,” Sydal said. “I still do. Everyone hopes you will be.” Then he leaned close so that their shoulders touched as they pissed. “Rem told me yesterday that you slept two straight nights with the Oracle… that you are her lover now.”

Jeet shrugged against the older boy’s shoulder. He wasn’t going to comment, but then decided to drop his guard with this friend. He grinned. “Three straight nights. She likes me, Sydal. And I like her… she’s… she’s…”

“Sexy?” Sydal asked with interest, as they shook off their cocks.

Jeet, glad to have someone outside the inner circle of his shrine family to talk to, grinned broadly. “You have no idea how sexy.”

“Has she had all of you at one time to her bed?” Sydal asked with a conspiratorial grin. “I heard it whispered that she has.”

Jeet leaned back and frowned. “No. She’s not like that.”

“I’m sorry, Abij-hah,” Sydal quickly said, bowing with the regret a slave might show at angering a master.

Jeet’s countenance softened. “It has not been announced yet that I am Abij-hah, Sydal. I am a servant like you.” He picked up his empty pot. “But next time, when people whisper, tell them that the Oracle is…” he glanced back toward the shrine. “Tell them that she is wonderful.”

That afternoon, word spread through the temple that Jeet and the Oracle had fallen in love.

+ + + + +

“But Oracle,” Stycus insisted the next evening, “you have over three more weeks to decide on Abij-hah. You must not decide yet. The announcement should be made formally, on your first day to grant an audience.”

The priests were at table with the Oracle while her attendants served them.

“The way it is announced,” Jarus explained, “is by who steps forward to speak for you on that first day you grant an audience. Whichever of your attendants steps forward to announce, ‘The Oracle has come forth; the Oracle will listen,’ … well, that eunuch is obviously the Abij-hah.”

“I don’t need three more weeks to decide,” the Oracle replied. “I have decided.”

Stycus glanced at Jeet who stood behind the Oracle. The priest failed to suppress his frown.

“Don’t announce anything yet, Oracle,” Eustace urged her. “I’m sure that many people have guessed that you will choose Jeet, but the suspense adds to the excitement of the whole thing, don’t you know? Not to mention that people will be wagering on your choice, right up to the end.”

“They’re going to know I have chosen Jeet when I go out walking with him,” she pointed out.

The priests glanced at each other. “You can’t just go out walking, Oracle,” Eustace said.

Anda frowned. “I’m tired of being cooped up inside this building. I haven’t been outside since I got here.”

“Oracle,” Jarus said. “You can’t simply go out for a stroll whenever you want; especially as young as you are.” Jarus glanced at the other two high priests. “We have been concerned about how confident supplicants will be when they see that you are such a young girl.”

“It wouldn’t be good for them to be reminded, Oracle,” Eustace agreed. “We have commissioned a beautiful mask of silver and gold for you to wear when you do have to go out in public… when you grant audiences.”

Anda’s head jerked back as if she had been struck.

“Only until you are older, dear,” Eustace quickly added.

“I won’t wear it,” Anda said.

Stycus took a bite of mutton and his eyes met Jarus’.

“It’s a beautiful mask, Oracle,” Jarus said. “It will add to your mystique.”

Anda’s jaw worked in frustration. Her eyes began to water. She looked away. “Tell me about granting audiences. What do I have to do?”

Jarus smiled, and pushing back his food, he rested his arms on the table. “Each day you grant an audience,” he told her, “your eunuchs will go out into the crowd and survey the supplicants. Whoever the Abij-hah decides has the most worthy gift that day is the one chosen to come before the Oracle. That is, of course, except for your very first day; the high priests decide on that day, and your attendants are kept back until you come out.”

Anda frowned. “Do I have to see people every day?”

“The more people you see, the more gold and silver that makes its way into the shrine,” Stycus pointed out.

“The tradition,” Jarus said, “is for you to hear a supplicant one day and return your answer the next day, or whenever you have an answer. And then you hear your next supplicant the day after that. Usually, that makes it every other day through the summer. There are fewer supplicants with suitable gifts in the winter months, and it may be every week or two then.”

“Holy one,” the Oracle said, shifting uncomfortably. “How am I supposed to answer supplicants? The gods have never spoken to me. I don’t know the future.”

Jarus smiled, shaking his head reassuringly. “Most will come to you for your blessing, Oracle. They will ask you to bless them or a child or an enterprise or a journey. And you will pronounce a blessing on them. You always make the blessing very general – nothing specific – just in case the gods don’t honor your blessing. But they will. You have been singled out by the gods; that’s obvious because of your physiology. As long as you keep your blessing unspecific enough, and leave the gods room to honor it however they choose, they will.”

“Remember, Oracle,” Eustace pointed out, “that this temple has been offering all manner of sacrifices continually since you arrived here, and we will continue to do so until your first audience. Those sacrifices will please the goddess. There will be times that she or one of the other gods will give you visions or the words to say. I saw it with the last Oracle.”

Stycus snorted. “The last Oracle was easy to inspire with the right incentive,” he said with a crooked smile. “Give her the right things to drink or the right potions to down…”

Jarus frowned. “That’s not worthy, Stycus. The last Oracle had a few, true visions. Certainly as true as any of yours.”

Stycus snorted again.

“The thing is, Oracle,” Jarus said, turning back to her, “You will always have at least a day to decide what to say, and we will help you.”

As the priests stood to leave, Stycus motioned Tazaar to his side. Jeet strained to listen and heard the words, “Come… tonight.”

“Holy one,” Jeet called out to Stycus as the priest turned to leave. Jeet glanced quickly at Anda to make sure she was listening, then turned back to Stycus. “If you were instructing Tazaar to come to your quarters tonight, I remind you that he is the Oracle’s servant now.”

Stycus had stopped and turned. His face grew livid. “Slave,” he growled dangerously, “how dare you address me that way? I remind you, that you are not Abij-hah yet, and even if someday you are, you will still be a slave. Talk to me like that again, and I will have your arrogant little ass flogged to a bloody pulp before the entire temple.”

Anda rose to her feet, her face going white. Instinctively, she stepped in front of Jeet; between him and Stycus. “Jeet is my slave, not yours,” she said, summoning her courage. “You will never… never do any such thing.”

Jarus frowned angrily. Stycus was going to sour relations with the Oracle and her eunuchs right from the start. That would make things needlessly difficult. “Of course, Oracle,” Jarus said solicitously. “Stycus spoke heatedly because he is not used to being addressed as impertinently as Jeet has done.” He glanced at Jeet. “Young Abij-hah, you are but a slave, and you will always be only a slave. I am glad that the Oracle has selected you. I believe you can be a great servant to the Oracle and this temple.” He glanced from Jeet to the Oracle. “I believe that you both can be. But remember your places.”

He stepped forward and spoke soothingly. “The community of this temple has always been harmonious. You will live luxurious and comfortable lives here… we all will, if you help us keep that harmony. You have made your choice, Oracle. Jeet sleeps at your feet tonight, not Tazaar.”

Tazaar, whose face was as pale as the Oracle’s, stepped forward. “Oracle,” he whispered. “I can go Stycus tonight.”

Anda reached behind her back and pulled Jeet to her for strength. Then rising to her full height, and leaning back against him, she stared defiantly at Stycus. “Tazaar is my attendant. I require him tonight. I require all of my attendants tonight.”

Stycus’ face turned scarlet.

With a quick bow toward the Oracle, Jarus laid a hand on Stycus’ arm. “Come, Stycus,” he said, turning the other priest toward the door before he could do any more damage. “There are other slaves in the temple who can serve you tonight.”

Eustace took a deep breath, glancing at the Oracle and then at his fellow priests. They left the room and he followed, turning back at the door. “Oracle,” he warned softly. “Take care. You too, Abij-hah.”

They all stood silently frozen after the priests left. Jeet turned the Oracle around. There were tears on her cheeks. He pulled her tightly to himself and held her while the others cleared away the meal.

“Oracle,” Tazaar called softly from outside her door a few minutes after the young eunuchs had carried the remains from the meal and the dishes from the room.

“Come,” she said, pulling back from Jeet’s comforting arms.

Tazaar came into her chamber, leading Cyndur by the hand.

“This must be Cyndur,” Anda said. She smiled at the handsome, young athlete.

Tazaar nodded. “Isn’t he beautiful, Oracle?”

She nodded. “Yes. Perhaps he is worthy of you.”

Tazaar grinned. “He just won a big race Oracle. He’s been winning many races.”

Cyndur stepped forward and bowed. “Oracle.”

The other young eunuchs returned and hung back, watching.

“What race did you win?” the Oracle asked.

“It was a race with athletes from two other cities, Oracle; Seleucia and Dura Europos”

“Well done, Cyndur,” the Oracle said. She glanced at Tazaar. “Take good care of him, Tazaar,” the Oracle said. “Perhaps some day he will run for us. I would like to see a race.”

“Perhaps you will, Oracle,” Cyndur said. He stepped closer and knelt before the Oracle. “Oracle, since you have chosen Jeet as Abij-hah, I wish to ask you something.” He lifted his head to look the Oracle in the eye. “I wish to purchase Tazaar from you. I wish him to belong to me.”

Anda glanced at Jeet.

“Cyndur,” Jeet said, “maybe Tazaar did not tell you, but we just had a serious disagreement with the high priests over Tazaar. This is not a good time for this. Of course, it’s up to the Oracle how she will reply to you, but if her reply is to be favorable, it would be better if we wait a day or two, and then approach Jarus about it.”

Tazaar’s countenance fell. Cyndur frowned.

“Jeet is right,” the Oracle agreed. “Comfort yourself in each other’s arms tonight. Sleep here in the shrine with my blessing, Cyndur,” she instructed in her high voice. “I would like to say yes to you, but we must talk to Jarus to see what must be done.”

Cyndur rose from his knees and took Tazaar by the hand. “If I have to sleep in the shrine for the rest of my life, Oracle, I will… to sleep beside Tazaar.”

Later, in the dark after the others had left, the young Oracle of Kaleh nuzzled in under her Abij-hah’s cheek and pressed her young body to his.

Jeet squeezed her in his arms. “You were brave Oracle.”

“We had to be, you and me,” she murmured. “We couldn’t let Stycus do that. We had to show them from the beginning that they couldn’t do that to us.”

Jeet nodded, sliding his palm down the soft skin of the Oracle’s back. He could feel her phallus stiffening against his belly. “You were wonderful, Oracle,” he said, kissing behind her ear.

She leaned back to look at him. “You were too, Jeet. We stood together.”

Jeet nodded. “We did… Alexander.”

The Oracle smiled, and then, laying her palm on the side of Jeet’s face, she looked intently into his eyes. “Tonight I am Alexander, Jeet. I felt it when we stood together… it felt like we were brothers standing there, defying them all.” The Oracle reached down between their bodies and closed her hand around Jeet’s semi-erect cock. And in that moment, it was Alexander who squeezed Jeet’s cock and looked intently into Jeet’s eyes.

Jeet’s cock stiffened instantly, and he pumped his hips to move his cock inside the Oracle’s firm grip. Alexander didn’t surprise Jeet. Jeet knew he was there all along; not as some second person inside Anda, but as a genuine manifestation of who Anda-Alexander was. It felt completely natural to Jeet to respond appropriately. “We are brothers, Alexander,” he said. “We can join our bodies in many ways. We can join our hearts in many ways. You are my heart-brother.”

“Jeet,” Anda-Alexander said, stroking Jeet’s cock between them and feeling every bit a boy, “let us rub cocks tonight… rub cocks and hold each other tightly.” The Oracle rubbed the side of her face against Jeet’s. “Give me some of your strength, older brother,” Anda-Alexander whispered. “Make your younger brother strong.” The Oracle rolled Jeet to his back and moved over him, dropping her legs to the outside of Jeet’s. They wrapped their arms tightly around each other and ground their pelvises together. Anda, as Alexander, pressed the side of her face to Jeet’s and their breath flowed hot on each other’s necks. The Oracle’s scent was the same as always in sex, but warmer, and she moved more decisively.

“We will squirt our issue between our bellies,” Jeet said, “and we will rub our bellies in it, and we will pledge to stand together as heart-brothers forever…” he paused. “If you are willing Oracle.”

“I am willing, Abij-hah,” the Oracle said, and pressed her loins forward.

Down below, Rufus came to the shrine on his evening rounds. One of the guards briefed him on the angry words he overheard between the priests as they left earlier that evening. The captain of the shrine guard frowned. He would need to strengthen the guard sooner than he intended.

The next morning, word spread through the temple that Jeet and the Oracle had defied the high priests over Tazaar. Rumors spread quickly up through the town, and at the governor’s palace, Weela worried for her brother while the governor, when he heard, was amused.

+ + + + +

“No, Oracle,” Jarus said.

Anda sat on the Oracle’s chair, inside the shrine. Her attendants stood arrayed behind her, naked except for their long, thin breechcloths, sandals, and armbands. Jeet stood close to the Oracle’s right hand, and Tazaar stood close on her left.

Jarus glanced over the boys. “Your servants are bound to you for life, Oracle. They cannot simply come and go. They are not commodities you can sell. Tazaar…” he looked pointedly at the boy, “is not only in your service, but the service of the temple as well. If you were to release him, Stycus might very well choose to keep Tazaar for himself.” Jarus shook his head. “Stycus likes gold, but I doubt that this young athlete of Tazaar’s would be able to offer enough of it to convince Stycus to let Tazaar go. You,” he said, glancing pointedly at Jeet, “have made this boy a point of contention between the Oracle and the High Priests.”

The Oracle frowned. “I am the one who forbade Tazaar to Stycus,” she said. “And I will forbid him still.”

“Oracle,” Jarus said, spreading his hands in a placating manner, “wait for awhile… until Stycus’ interest in the boy wanes. And then we can smooth things between you.” He rose to his full height and looked sternly over the boys. “I doubt that any of us would ever agree to you selling off any one of your eunuchs, but it is too soon even to discuss.” He glanced at Tazaar. “And I don’t approve of Tazaar having a lover. You should forbid it.”

“If Tazaar is my slave, then he is my slave. I will allow what I wish. And I wish to allow Cyndur to sleep with Tazaar, here in the shrine whenever Cyndur wishes,” the Oracle said.

Jarus frowned deeply. “That is not good Oracle. That is not good at all.” Jarus paced before the Oracle. “These boys were specially chosen. They have been trained in dance, song, and gymnastics. The spectacle that they provide is important to this shrine and to this temple. Look at them,” he waved his hand across the six. “No other six boys in this province – in the entire empire – can equal them in beauty, grace, and form. Many will come, simply to see them.”

Jarus paused as he suddenly realized that the entire situation could play into his hands. “Charge him,” he said. “Charge this young Cyndur for the privilege of sleeping with Tazaar. I don’t care if the amount is minimal. But it must be known that your slaves – or any temple slaves – are not free to form their own romantic relationships, or that anyone can have use of one of your eunuchs whenever they wish, and without paying for the privilege.”

The Oracle frowned, and Jarus wondered if she glimpsed what he had hoped all along might be an additional source of income for the temple – potentially a large source of additional income. He needed to nudge her a little farther along this path, so Jarus gestured toward Tazaar. “If Cyndur truly loves this boy, he will ransom his nights with him.”

Anda glanced at Tazaar who masked his mixed emotions. “So be it,” the Oracle said in a high, determined voice. “I shall grant Cyndur the privilege, but for a very small price.”

“Keep the price private between yourselves, Oracle,” Jarus cautioned. “We do not want the whole world to think that Tazaar’s services would come cheaply.”

Anda nodded.

Jarus smiled. “So be it,” he said, echoing her words of a moment before. He smiled inwardly. “You are a gracious mistress, Oracle” he said, and bowing, he turned and took his leave.

+ + + + +

“Whatever your price, Oracle, I will pay it,” Cyndur told Anda that night when Tazaar brought him before her. He pulled Tazaar back into his arms and held him closely. “I would trade everything for Tazaar.”

Sixteen-year-old Cyndur’s voice had a deep, rich quality which was a pleasant counterbalance to the higher voices of the Oracle and her attendants, as well as to the harp which Jeet was playing. Aruli was combing out the Oracle’s hair. Ptolemy was filing her toenails. Bantu and Jin were preparing her bed.

The Oracle frowned. “I have been thinking about the payment I would require,” she said. “I have decided that I would like you to teach us all to race, and we will hold races together, my attendants and me.”

“Races? Where?” Jin asked.

“We could race across the temple courtyard,” Bantu suggested with a grin, “but who would dare beat the Oracle?”

“We could race behind the shrine where we practice acrobatics,” Ptolemy offered.

“There isn’t much room there,” Jin countered.

“Do you swim, Oracle?” Cyndur asked. “I could teach you to swim… all of you. We could start in your bathhouse.” He looked around at each of them. “Do any of you know how to swim?”

They all shook their heads.

“Then that will be your payment,” the Oracle said. “You will teach my attendants and me how to swim and how to run races. You shall be our games master and train us to be athletes.”

Cyndur grinned at the thought of eunuchs and a hermaphrodite being athletes.

Anda frowned at his amusement. “Or I could ask for a thousand pieces of gold every night.”

“No, no!” Cyndur quickly said with a hearty laugh. “I will teach you.” He was beginning to really enjoy this spunky Oracle.

+ + + + +

The following evening, Cyndur presented himself at shrine portico. He would no longer need to sneak in the back way. He would come in as one who belonged.

One of the guards recognized him; Cyndur was a celebrity in Kaleh. Though young, he was already a star athlete at the gymnasium and in local games. The guard told others.

Word quickly spread that Cyndur the athlete had bound himself in service to the shrine because he had fallen under the spell of a younger boy… the beautiful eunuch, Tazaar.

People high and low in the city followed the intrigues and romances of the shrine and temple with increasing interest… stories of love and beauty, of an exotic and mysterious girl-Oracle, and of boys like sprites from the gods defying powerful high priests.

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