When love was gone, then, indeed, I wept with tremendous heartbreak. I wasn't alive and wasn't dead, wasn't mortal and wasn't quite immortal either. I had no idea where I was. I had lost my sisters and now I'd lost my brother as well. And the unsteady foundation of all my troubles, Aphrodite's fury still raged against me!
A soft breeze drew near and dried my copious tears. It caressed my hair, in kind to the gentle breezes that once followed me through the grasslands and knowles of my benefactors' fief. And in its quick gusts were murmurs of soothing comfort.
I looked up and a winsome, robust man was standing over me. His broad mouth curved in a friendly crooked grin and his muscular bare arms were crossed over his tunic.
"Good sir, why do you stare?"
"In truth, firstly due to your astonishing beauty, Psyche. You are so changed and yet, still so magnificent! But I hope that I may be somewhat a friend in your distress too." His benignant presence and candid reply were a breath of fresh air.
He bowed deeply before me, his grin still warm and effortless. "I am Zephyr. I'm the chamberlain of the West Wind, and shall ever be at your service, my lady."
My new friend lifted me in his arms and held me close as if I were merely a small child, and we, like dandelion seeds coasting a wind current, swiftly floated to the high crest of a solemn mountain. I recognized the place from my infancy, this place of unavoidable fate.
"This is Olympus!" I was wondrously awestruck.
Twilight covered the zenith, settling in slow waves down the slope of the great mountain, and Zephyr peered at me bashfully through his lashes. "Would that I could remain through the night, my lady, but the most unavoidable necessities draw me away."
He had no need to explain his leave. In our diverse liberal education, my sisters and I had learned the phenomena of the winds and currents and tides and their great import upon the earth.
"In this grove, you shall be quite safe, removed from Aphrodite's survey. And the goddess is well-known to take romp and merriment at this time. Surely, she will be preoccupied with a bevy of feasts and weddings tonight her own sensual pleasures." My new friend gave a courteous goodbye and I was alone.
And not only alone but also ever so lonely! As I rested on a bank of hospitable but scratchy wild grass, I imagined that I laid in a field of soft bluegrass, my head cushioned by Eros' chest and shoulder, comforted and content without thought in his presence. And oh!, wouldn't it be so lovely if Agvi and Thavma could be by our sides as well!
I had such misery and regret for my actions at our parting. All that Eros had said was true; I was bored with happiness, and my mind was tormenting merely for the thrill of imagined offense and self-pity. How was it that Eros could possibly know my mind better than I did myself?
I fell into a deep sleep lulled by the imagined steady rhythm of his imaginary heart, the imagined feel of Agvi's warmth pressed against my side and Thavma's imagined gentle embrace cradling us all close. I woke with the dawn, keenly missing Agvi in the holographic edges of the early sun's rays. But rising early, I journeyed up the mountain alone in search of my lost love.
I know not how long I climbed. But I was travel-worn and becoming immensely bored. I saw a lofty palace on a nearby hill. My curiosity peaked, I ventured further off my track. The place was as deserted as it had seemed from a distance, but coming closer I realized it was not a palace but in fact a great temple!
And there were no beings within the temple's halls either, only heaps of grain, loose ears of dried corn half torn from the husk, wheat and barley. All was scattered in confusion about the floor. Perhaps I should have been startled or fearful at such disarray but my curiosity was like a shield of bravery.
I searched the cobwebbed, shadowy crooks of the temple until I found an old, decaying spool of frayed hemp. And without delay, I set to work binding the sheaves together. It felt wonderful to have something to do, something to occupy my mind!
Once I'd separated and bound the wheat and gathering the scattered ears of corn in seemly wise, I swept and dusted the earthen floor and terra cotta altar. And with my hands busy, my mind was settled and purposefully set to solve my current dilemmas:
Surely, the first thing is to find my protector, Hera. She is strong, almost so as strong as her husband, mighty Lord Zeus. I shall present myself and petition her intervention and she will help me find rest away from Aphrodite.
But if I cannot find Hera, then I shall seek instead some other goddess' intervention. For among the goddesses, surely there shall be some who would see it as an opportunity of feminine solidarity and strength!
And once I have a protector, I shall search for and find Eros. I cannot control his thoughts but perhaps my seduction can sway him …. But I'm loathe to wait; I want to go to him now!
"What brings you to my altar, dear child? Of course, besides this thoughtful act of devotion?"
I yelped in surprise. I was so engrossed in my tidying busy work, that the approaching presence startled me. I looked up to behold Demeter herself, the goddess of the harvest, smiling upon me with goodwill.
I bowed low. "You are too generous, lady …. My purpose here is predominantly selfish. In short, I need something to occupy my mind. And I am merely the grateful recipient of your blessing to have something to do, as organizing at your altar has helped me to think."
Demeter laughed lightly and I dared secret a look at her. The sunlight streaming through the leaded glass of her temple's dome set a warm glow about her auburn hair and her bright smile sparkled in her delight. "Then you are Psyche! Oh dear child. I'll admit to you alone; when I spotted you from a distance, I suspected you were Aphrodite. She is known to return around this hour, always from some event or party and often comes to commit some mischief romance in the dark corners of my old shrine."
Demeter's long fingers tipped my chin and turned my face. "Quite extraordinary, this resemblance!" She smiled at me and walked casually to a seat nearby and patted the cushion besides herself in invitation. I'd never been in the presence of a proper goddess before and was amazed by the sincerity of Demeter's warm, earthy candor.
"So my dear, some change of fortune must have presented itself that you are returning to Olympus?"
I shook my head at Demeter's question. "In fact, my very life, my very self, is more miserable now than ever. My sisters are married to men in the mortal world; where they've gone, I know not. And I've caused Eros a grave injury. I know not where he's fled. Yet in the midst of all my sorrows, it is still Aphrodite's intentions that I fall prey to something odious and vile!"
Demeter rolled her eyes. "By the gods," she muttered, her tone full of feeling. "Aphrodite is nothing if not self-absorbed."
"Eros gave me a temporary reprise from her scorn, but now, I fear that having offended him, too, as well as his mistress … well … my offenses towards love run quite high." I could not still the hot tears rolling down my cheeks.
Demeter's arms were strength in silk as they wrapped around my shaking shoulders and drew me close to her breast. "There, there, dear Psyche. You are still worthy of love. You are worthy of happiness, and you may still find it yet." Her motherly soothing and gentle rocking reminded me of my dearly missed lady benefactress and I nuzzled against her bosom seeking comfort.
Finding courage in such, I ventured to ask, "Goddess, could you help me? At least until I find Hera? Might not I be your ward and find protection from Aphrodite in you, at least until I may discover what has happened to Eros?"
Demeter frowned thoughtfully and my heart raced. "I'm moved to consider all your requests, were it in my authority. But even I am unable to assist you in this plea.
"And even so, were I at leave to grant what you ask, it would not erase Aphrodite's displeasure …. You seek merely to prolong the inevitable. But what you must do is go to Aphrodite directly and ask her favor."
I shuddered at the suggestion and burrowed into the goddess' firm embrace. "I cannot approach her! And I know she will not entertain my petitions." Despite the reasonableness of my excuses, in truth, I was more than afraid!
But Demeter gentled me and stroked my hair. "And what do you 'know,' dear girl? How can you presume to 'know' the will of a cardinal goddess?
"You cannot close yourself to that which you seek to master, Psyche. If your destiny is to embody the mind and soul, you cannot close your own mind to the unknown simply out of fear.
"Seek Aphrodite. Entreat her favor. Perhaps your patience will win her pardon."
On the goddess' kindly advice, I reverently took leave and resumed my climb, set on a course for the temple of Aphrodite. As clouds parted and sunlight streamed ahead, there was an ever widening green valley. Beyond the sloping green was a great precipice. And there high above and shimmering resplendent in glorious rays of sunlight was a massive temple.
It was far greater in size than any palace or shrine I'd ever seen or imagined. Large enough to encompass an entire universe within its pillars and domes. Its campus was surrounded by lush pink tinged clouds and a vast lucus of succulent roses and bursting grape vines. The temple's facade glittered iridescent like mother-of-pearl lining a seashell.
I'd anticipated that I might be turned away even outside its walls. But surprisingly, the yaws of the gates opened as I approached. The air was still and warm, as if this place were insulated from the crosscurrents of East and West Winds swirling its valley below, and everything within was light and bright; sensual, soft and gold-tinged.
I stumbled through a web of polished streets, amazed at the great crowds of magnificently dressed lords and ladies. And they, too, were amazed at me, pointing and whispering and then following in a great mass as I wandered through the temple's maze. Shortly, there was a throng of mesmerized faces lining the road before me. I heard whispers mounting among the great growing crowd:
"She is even more lovely in truth than in apparition!"
"Such magnificence … that we should ever have lived to witness such a day that she walks among us!"
"Venus is her name …."
I turned sharply, stunned that even those sworn to the temple should confuse me with their goddess. The throngs of followers fell reverently to their knees before me, and some even with their faces to the ground! The yearning in their silent adoration was palpable and I knew not what words of favor to offer them!
But my difficulty was intercepted by riders coming in a trot towards me. They blasted conch shells and raised bright banners. With a gasp, I was lifted by the most decorated among them and held astride his large chest in an uncomfortable sidesaddle upon his horse. Without any introduction or explanation, the riders turned and galloped apace to the drawbridge of a pharaonic golden castle. We dismounted and the large, stern man holding me set me on my own two feet.
"You will be quiet and reverent, grateful and respectful."
The squad of guards surrounded me and led me through a high, silvery corridor. And after passing capacious rooms we arrived in the archway of a tremendous hall, one surely larger than the whole world! White-blue flames fired endlessly on great alabaster altars and the sun streamed in pink-gold light through the domed glass ceiling. The golden walls were bejeweled with diamonds and pearls and rose quartz and the floors even were perfectly smooth rose quartz and deep-veined marble.
Hundreds of priests and priestesses, all young and naked and endowed with extraordinary beauty and gifted sensuality, stood solemnly about the hall in accord to their rank and virtues. And somehow the endless crowd of beautifully dressed lords and ladies of the court had followed and pressed their way into the inner hall as well, lining the walls and balconies in droves, their whispers rising like a tidal wave above my head. I felt myself drowning in it.
And on the grandest altar, a colossal and perfect black pearl, and seated upon a living throne of crashing waves and violently swimming dolphins, was the goddess Aphrodite in her full glory.
To my mind, we looked nothing alike. Aphrodite sat naked and unashamed. Her rose flushed skin was dewy and pearlescent to shame even the altar beneath her, and her flaxen hair and lips were fresh and wet. Copious, delicious drops of nectar collected on her peach-tone nether lips. My mouth gaped hungrily. I wished nothing more than to devour her like a ripe fruit, to become her devotee.
"Do you know why I have received you and granted an audience?" Aphrodite's booming voice was lilting and furious simultaneously. I shook my head and then quietly, tremulously, answered that I did not.
The goddess scoffed. "I've heard great, nonsensical tales since your birth, Psyche. That you are a witch. That you ensnare minds mortal and immortal with your evil talents, to drive them into frenzied pleasure despite circumstance. That even absent love or sensuality, you create mockery of my very nature by weaving your evil into the most tremendous pleasures."
"Such tales are not true," I whispered fearfully.
"Oh? But why be modest now, Psyche," Aphrodite quipped coldly. The multitudes of court, priests and priestesses laughed respectfully.
Aphrodite snapped her fingers and two beautiful girls, lithe and graceful with near matching faces and figures, stepped forward. Their hair was braided in heavy plaits and pinned around their heads like laurels. Their breasts, high and upswept with rose-brown nipples, bounced as they moved to bring forth a table covered with instruments and machines. The items all were foreign, nothing of which I'd ever seen before.
Some were glossy pink, some blue like a piece of sea glass, some black as night and made of polished cow leather. Some items were enormous and other small. Some were modeled after cocks of herculean proportions, while others looked like torture devices scored from a king's dungeon.
Astonishingly, many could move by themselves, motivated to action merely by a slight pressure! The devices oscillated and lurched and hummed as if strange alien beings. I was thoroughly confused and quite frightened.
"In their extensive research around the world, my priests and priestesses have found the most extraordinary devices and inventions of the human mind. They are fascinating. But they are not created by my inspiration! And they are not designed as offerings to me ….
"Tell me Psyche; are these not the human's offerings to you?"
I shook my head. I was unable to answer. "I do not believe you, Psyche. Are not these not by your inspiration? Are not these machines the things that you enjoy and mortals produce for your tribute? Answer, you sick slut!"
"They are none of mine." I shook my head energetically but was sure the goddess still did not believe me. She snapped her fingers again and two guards of the squad that had brought me into the hall stepped forward.
As I stood and before it could even fully register, the squad tore my shift away and the cool assessment of hundreds of eyes in her court of priests and priestesses and lords, ladies, courtesans and pages rolled over me. I struggled to cover my bare breasts and pussy.
Aphrodite smirked at my nakedness, raising her own breasts proudly. "You beauty pales in comparison to the real thing, Psyche." I cowered. Her words rang phenomenally true.
Two girls skipped joyously and elegantly before me. They were not naked as the other priestesses, nor were they dressed as the lords and ladies of the court, but instead donned sheer bits of golden cloth and ribbon that did more to highlight than cover their nakedness. The first girl was lithe, almost waifish, with thick wavy chestnut hair and stunning honeyed eyes. Her nymph-like build stirred something feral in me; I wanted to chase her down, like a hunter in the woods, and claim her young, lean pussy in a scratchy bed of decaying leaves.
The second was not to be overlooked either. Like the first, she, too, was tall and lean, but her raven black hair and ripe full breasts reminded me greatly of Thavma. My loins were stirred by the most delightfully taboo thought; an imagining of this priestess and Thavma in each others' embrace, their mouths pressed ravenously to each other's pussy to the point it was unclear which girl was which.
The two girls were purely erotic and I barely heard Aphrodite through my musings. "These trusted handmaids are Belas and Lypi. They are my eyes and ears where I am not, and you will respect them as your mistresses, Psyche."
I memorized their names quickly.
Belas. Trouble. And Lypi. Regret.
"And you shall acknowledge them now," Aphrodite ordered, exasperated.
I shuddered as I knew not what was expected of me. But quickly and without prompting, a kind priest, tall and gorgeous with lean muscled legs and a stunningly long cock, came to my side. His cock, stiff and veiny and purple, bobbed stiffly as he kneeled and kissed Belas and then Lypi's mounds of Venus respectfully. The spongy tip of his manhood slid across the polished floor and between his knees as he bent forward pressing his cheek against the floor before my new mistresses.
I copied this priest's movements, licking and then pressing my lips to each girl's mons and likewise laying my face against the cool marble. I felt the still air and sense of exposure against my ass cheeks and moist pussy and awkward coolness of the quartz marble floor against my turgid nipples. The tinkling giggles of my mistresses were the first sound I heard them utter, and its character was unplaceable.
"Oh, Demetrius, how honorable to have helped Psyche in her uncertainty. How sweet! Don't you find Demetrius sweet as well, dear Lypi?" I could tell that Belas was circling slowly.
"Quite," came my other mistresses' very close and teasing reply. "Perhaps he shall help us in these demonstrations for our goddess, then?"
Belas giggled again as if in agreement and stood behind Demetrius and me. And she pressed the soft ball of her bare foot against Demetrius' distended cock, forcing weight on it until it bent at a curve against the smooth cool floor. The priest groaned and his eyes bulged. His brow was a fitful distress and his face flushed a horrid blood red. I gasped and panted feeling the palpable level of empathy.
"Oh, please, stop. No! How is this loving? How is that pleasurable?"
I started to rise. Lypi, still standing before me, merely grinned as I rose and struck me hard across my face. I fell back limp and whimpering.
"You dare question your mistresses," she asked, her light voice tinkling with a cadence of merry laughter. I shuddered at the sound. "And you dare let your friend suffer? Do as Aphrodite has commanded you: show her your gifts, Psyche. You would withhold Demetrius such assistance?"
I cradled my face and wanted to rebel, to run away. But I couldn't blindly do such and leave this kind, unwitting priest in his current state of extraordinary discomfort and anxiety.