“Surya Chaelaecha?” The guard made an ostentatious showing of officiousness, winking at me as she re-read the note detailing my new appointment and informing me that Surya had moved his work space into the Marble Palace. It was about time, especially since he had come out as Chevenga’s current healer. Anyone could have struck at Chevenga by hurting or killing Surya. I would bet a gold chain that Krero was much relieved at the healer’s change of address.
I recognized the guard and she knew me but asked the questions anyway. “Minis Aan, to see Surya Chaelaecha, as a patient,” I repeated, patiently.
“The servant will show you in,” she said and gave me my letter back. I didn’t recognise the servant, but there were a lot of new ones being trained. He was a little older than I and grinned at me as he nodded down the hallway.
“Serin Aan. The exalted might know the way better than this one,” he said, cheerfully. “The honourable healer is in the Suites of Plenty and Serenity.”
“In the Imperial wing, of course. Might I ask your name, Ser?” Equal to equal seemed safe to a young Aitzas Marble Palace servant.
“Oh.” He didn’t quite have the unflappable face of the Palace perfectly yet, and blinked. “Serin, this one is Mikras Tor Elas.”
“Thank you, Mikras.”
Peace and Serenity were perfect for Surya and the innermost chapel room had been transformed into his healing room as if he’d taken the one from Bright Street and transplanted it directly here, with a few expansions in size along the way.
It was interesting to see that the ways behind the walls were blocked off all around the suite and I assumed every possible spy-hole was probably filled before the sponges were applied to them. It looked and felt very Haian and it had the sealed and muffled quality that meant it was completely quiet to anyone outside.
“Hello, Minis,” he said. “Sit down, have some tea.” He looked serene as always, Red curls, warm eyes. Square hands. He was barefoot. I found myself fascinated with the hairs on his big toes. I didn’t know you could have hair on one’s toes. Father might have, but he would have had them shaved, not exuberantly twisting like that. I didn’t want to think of Father. Not here. Not now.
I had only had one other session with him since announcing my candidacy. I’d been out of the city, speaking for much of that time, and he had his hands full with Chevenga, back and forth to Yeola-e. Keeping him from running himself onto any other swords, of any kind.
I was trembling inside like a jolted cup of water, so sitting down with a cup of tea first was a good thing. I had settled myself and wrapped hands around it and nearly dropped it when he quietly said, “So tell me how you are feeling about your genitals? What has been happening since I asked you not to wrap them down tight?” What, no chit chat? No... the weather’s been lovely and hot, first? I told that whiny part to go away.
I sloshed hot tea on my gloves, set the cup down, quickly and wrenched the wretched things off. I'd been wearing gloves to make it clear I was not anticipating the vote. “Um. Well. I don’t hurt. There. I mean.” The organs in question suddenly felt twice their normal size, an ungainly lump sitting at the joint of my legs, in danger of getting pinched.
“Good.” He could see, but of course he would want me to tell him to see if I recognized what was going on. “Any erotic dreams? Any playing with yourself?”
“I um looked at myself the other day. It didn’t seem so dangerous. It was just kind of there. Not scary. And... um...” I really didn’t want to tell him...
“Have you had any kind of sexual experience with anyone?”
I wanted to sink into the floor. I wanted to dribble away between the cushions. “Gan and Fara... they’ve been letting me cuddle with them... They’re a couple and...” I gulped. “Um...”
“Deep breath, Minis. You can say anything you need to, to me. It’s safe with me.”
But you might think less of me.... part of me wailed. I told that part of me to shut up. I had a sudden bead of sweat break away on my back and roll down my spine. He was not going to be slow and circumspect, like an Arkan. Yeolis. They just belted these things out.
“Fara and Gan... um... they held me... and Fara... um...” I took a deep breath. “She touched me and I, um, came. Like, one real stroke... maybe two... and and and I cried.” I looked down at my fingers knotted together. “I cried because I thought I’d hurt someone, or I’d soiled them... but they weren’t... mad.”
“Good for them.” I managed to pick up my teacup and take a sip. It was cool enough now that I didn’t scald my tongue and I found my eyes tracing the vague patterns in the sponges insulating the walls. Is that a face? That’s a puppy. And that’s a quinquireme. Anything but think of what he was asking me.
“All right, Minis. Take several deep breaths for me. That’s good. Now, lean back in your chair...” His voice was soothing and reminded me of Zinchaer. “They weren’t angry. Because there was nothing to be angry about. Gannara and Farasha were there and I talked to them ... and last night I had a dream that wasn't a 'sweat-soaked fight to the death', but, umm.. something nice that's all I remember.
“Are you attracted to Gannara?”
I try not to choke on my embarrassment. “I was still... erect and it felt okay... Yes, I'm attracted to him, but I think he's naturally more attracted to girls... he was in Yeola-e, once he got over his nightmares... and my Father wanted me to be attracted to him so I fight that.”
He nodded. “That’s natural. It sounds like you are working through that between you. If you want help with it, make an appointment with the two of you. I’m certainly willing to help you there. And with Farasha as well. What about girls... do you ever look at one and feel something?
I blushed so hard I thought I would pass out. “Um… Fara… um Gannara… um…I'm not supposed to be as attracted to girls as much or more than boys... You know...”
“Ahh,” he said, with the slightly distracted look he got with examining auras. “… you're attracted to them. It's not a matter of what you're supposed to be attracted to you... but your nature.”
Might I be able to pray that the floor would open up and I could be quietly swallowed up? I really wanted to be somewhere else.
“Think of the sexiest girl you've ever seen,” Surya said to me. Even as I was gaping at him I couldn’t help but remember Serina Puriren from the bath… and Farasha’s breasts when she sat up with Gannara… Even a Yeoli fisher girl wearing nothing but a loincloth, soaking wet out of the sea at Asinanai, net slung over her shoulder.
"What?" Inside I was gibbering to myself. Why does he want me to… oh shen. I’m hardening and I promised I wouldn’t hurt myself and I can’t in front of Surya…
“The sexiest girl you've ever seen,” he prompted again. “ -- think of her.”
I put my hands over my groin, turned sideways to try and hide my uncivil reaction. That didn’t work so I pulled my knees up and curled into the chair, knotting around my penis rising up to his suggestions. "I guess..."
“Imagine... she suddenly looks right at you. Very desirously.”
"Surya... please... don't ask me..." I squeezed my eyes shut against the ideas Surya raised in my head, but couldn’t help it. All the beautiful girls… the harder I tried not to… Kyriala barefoot in the grass…. The Haian boys, lithe as seals diving off the docks on Haiu Menshir… The harder I tried not to think of them the more they crowded my memory. Kyriala’s fingers on my neck as she cut my hair, feather soft and trembling. The feel, the heat of her waist, muscle flexing under my hand during a falisas.
I could barely hear Surya ask, “What do you feel?”
"Not only is Farasha a girl, but she’s a Gibyr and with Gannara and Kyriala is… I freed her and she should have the best to marry and I’m not a good prospect for any girl to sleep with… as if I stink like my father and and and ... I want... I want... I need to... oh Hayel!" I grabbed a pillow to hide behind. "I can’t… Surya why are you doing this?"
“Breathe. Breathe deeply and feel what you are feeling. It is not evil.” I was now sweating all over me. “Does this feel perverse to you?
I was staring at him as if he were 2nd Amitzas resurrected. At least my eyes felt stretched out so wide. "Yes! No! I don't know!" I glanced down behind the pillow as if I could make my penis lie down again just by looking.
Surya shook his head. “This is not perverse in the slightest. It is totally natural.”
I quoted Gannara at him. “You mean like I rise up and down sometimes just because, or because I see a pretty girl or I have a full bladder?”
“Exactly. Do you get angry at your eyelids for blinking? Or command where your tongue lies in your head?” Of course I was instantly aware and uncomfortable with both these things and had to shut my eyes and have a sip of tea to settle thoughts of where my tongue sat when my mouth was closed. Surya waited for me to resettle myself.
“It's totally natural.”
I looked up at him and asked the first question that sprang to mind. “How does anyone get anything done?” He laughed right out loud and I had to smile. “I can’t think of anything else!”
“You learn to only pay attention when you and your penis are in accord. When a healthy young woman or man wants to play with you that particular way. What any healthy young man feels, and what his penis does, when he imagines the person he desires being interested.” It was so overwhelming. “He makes sure he releases the urge regularly so that he can think about other things in between!” Surya sipped his tea, still smiling as he explained.
“Oh. So I’m a little…unreleased then?”
“Yes. And why you came so quickly when Farasha touched you.” He looked my aura over again. “You've never played with yourself even once.”
“No.” The idea was disgusting. It cooled me down enough that I finally softened. I sat up straighter and pulled my clothing smooth. My gut unclenched. Then I looked up at him, realizing. Is he going to make me…he wouldn’t would he? He isn’t… oh, shen.
“I have an assignment for you,” he said. I swallowed hard once, then twice, my throat somehow dry as dust, even with the warm liquid. My one hand was clenched on the pillow as if I were drowning and it was a log or floating plank.
"Yes?" I managed to say without squeaking.
“I want you to bring yourself to climax. Once you've done it once, you'll know how. Then you'll be able to do it whenever you feel the need.” He nodded, reassuringly at me as I stared at him, horrified. “This is very normal, trust me. The strong sex urge settles down when you get older.”
“It won't make me go blind? Or mad? Or become a sex addicted maniac?” Like my father.
I wondered if he had to suppress a smile, but his face was still calm. He took up his crystal in one hand. “No, it will not make you go blind. Or mad. And you will not become a sex addicted maniac.”
I took a deep breath and nodded once. “I’ll try.” At least he isn’t going to make me…
“You can do it here and now or later by yourself, as you choose.”
“HERE!?” I nearly shrieked.
“Or later by yourself.”
Breathe, breathe, breathe... “If I don't succeed by myself, I can get ...help... talking through it later?”
“Yes. But let me give you some suggestions for talking yourself through it. It depends completely and utterly on what's in your mind. So if a thought of your father wanders into your mind... drive it out. Return your mind in a very disciplined fashion to... that girl, or another girl who has attracted you. I suggest being very creative.”
Surely the room was spinning? I swallowed hard. The idea of trying this in the Liren household… Kyriala’s home… with Ili and Nuni who could run in at any time, or the pets. I remembered the sounds of Gannara and Farasha making love in their room… next to mine and… and… I wouldn’t be able to try. I didn’t want to lock myself in the garderobe.
“May I… um… I don’t know if I can… in front of you… Umm. Can I try this in private while you're here? I don't think I can do it... by myself...”
“I have oil here that you can use. And I will be right over here, in the next room with the door open so you can hear me, and I cannot see what you are doing, since you are Arkan. I understand.”
He moved over to set a vessel of oil on the table next my hand. “It's not perverse? It's not wrong?”
“No,” he said calmly. “Minis, how do you suppose the human race would continue, if no one did it?”
I blinked. “People... people do their duty?” I said weakly.
“All-Spirit... or you would say, the Gods... are loving... and so they made us so that we would enjoy what we must do.”
I looked under my cushion as if my groin were a Lightning snake, coiled in wait under a rock. “I need... um... I need to hold on to myself when I do this, right?”
“Yes, you need to hold yourself, and rub up and down... get a little massage oil and spread it over your penis. I don't recommend olive oil it's too thick and gets sticky too quickly... you have to try this and that to see what feels best.” He laid a towel next to the oil. “You might want to put it between your thighs when you touch yourself. The cloth is to clean up with, afterwards. If you like, I can show you.”
“NO, um no, no, that’s all right.”
He went on as if I hadn’t interrupted him. “Above all, you must enjoy yourself. You must take pleasure.” He smiled then. “Healer's orders.”
I nodded, slightly. “And you’re going to be in the other room so I can call you if it all goes… um… wrong?”
“Yes. The other room is also proof against sound so I will leave the door open. I will also speak you through the beginnings of it, until nature takes over.” I nodded again, silently and he smiled at me and went into the other room, quietly. I stared at the oil for a moment, then down at myself. It was massage oil. It wouldn’t hurt me.
I couldn’t move for a long moment and when I reached out my hand was shaking. I dropped the cushion on the floor beside my chair, pulled back and sat with both hands in my lap. I… needed to… flip up my kilt… and…
The oil on my palms was warm and smelled a bit like Haiu Menshir. A flower they had there that was very soothing. I rubbed my hands together but couldn’t make myself reach under my kilt. Healer’s orders…
I put my right hand up under my kilt and caught and held my breath when one finger touched and I froze. It felt… too good. It was frightening.
“How are you doing, Minis?” I jumped, my breath quivering as Surya called from the other room.
“I... uh... I don't think... Surya... I can't…”
“Imagine this girl in your mind,” he saild calmly, evenly. “Imagine her undressing herself."
"Pulling her gloves off."
"Imagine her undressing you. Running her fingertips over your chest.” I was hard again before he’d finished speaking.
"Pulling her gloves off."
"Imagine her undressing you. Running her fingertips over your chest.” I was hard again before he’d finished speaking.
It felt slippery and when I touched, trembling, it sent shocks all up and down my body in a way that hadn’t happened when… I wouldn’t think about that… shocks… and the oil… I seized myself as if I were plunging my hand into a nest of snakes and groaned because it was almost too much… too hard. I bit my lip and eased my grip. I was hot, in my palm and my hand felt good, too. My penis quivered in my hand, jumping. I thought of Farasha touching me.
“She runs her tongue across her lips at you.”
“Aigh!” That startled a yelp out of me, and a slip… I found my hips moving, beginning to thrust into my hand, my hand sliding up and down, so… naturally. Healer’s orders. I remembered the soap… with Definas and how he took control of me. The pounding cascade and the slick bubbles he grasped me, like... this... ohhh. I can... too and he...
I found myself remembering every detail of Farasha’s breasts, her nipples almost dark as chocolate, swollen where Gannara had been sucking on them. Oh. That… that… was good. I imagined Gannara sucking on her nipples and her hand on me….
Slippery, hot and I tightened my hand just a fraction. “OOOhhhhhh…”
“Good, Minis. Imagine her full, firm breasts, how they taste under your tongue.” I needed more oil and my other hand joined the first. Def holding me tight so I couldn’t hurt him, making me take pleasure… oh, oh and Gannara and Farasha making love… oooh, perhaps they would let me watch them… perhaps… I imagined Gannara moaning and Farasha sighing... he'd feel something like... this sliding into her... maybe... perhaps...they would reach out and let me... I was close, so close and I felt the panic rising up, fast as the good feeling the one I wanted. Oh no. Oh no… I caught my breath and my lips tight in my teeth...
“She gives herself to you,” Surya said from the other room. The thought caught me and tumbled me over the edge, everything went completely white for a moment.
“AAAAA!” I believe I cried out and felt the thin spurt of fluid. Not gushing like a horse, like in the knuckle suckers but… but… oh. Oh. That… felt… good? Yes. Good.
I wanted to shrink back into myself but realized I was lying half boneless, it felt like, in my chair and didn’t want to move. “Oh. Oh, Gods. Oh godsss.” There were tears on my face. “I… suppose… every time it gets easier?”
“May I come back in?” Surya asked.
“Oh, oh, yes.” I sat up and seized the cloth he’d left me, for after and I had to remind myself not to be rough. My… semen wasn’t grotesque. It was just a little milky fluid. It didn’t even smell bad. I smelled mostly like the oil I’d used.
I was shaking, panting.
“Is it bothering you, that which came out of you?” He settled back in his chair as I folded the towel around the mess.
“Yes.” He held out his hand for it and I gave it to him as if it were a shen filled cloth. He folded it open and merely looked at it. “A healer could tell a great deal about you from this. When you have children… this will be how. This is part of the stuff of life itself.”
“Sseeds.. of life...” I said, and realized it didn’t really feel that sticky. It was just a little mark on the cloth. “It does feel good... but I don't like the smell or feel of it.”
He folded the cloth over again. “That's because of what your mind links it to. Have enough happy experiences with it, and that will change.” He got up and put the cloth in a basket, a laundry basket I realized, and put the lid back on it. He came back and poured more tea for us both.
“You've done well, lad.”
“Thank... thank you.” I managed, looking at the floor.
Surya held out his arms offering a hug. “If you want one. If you could use some comfort. If you need arms to help pull yourself together.”
I was a little skittish but let him hug me. He enveloped me as if I’d done something hard and he was proud of me. I was still leaking a few tears.
I buried my head in his shoulder. "I feel like I'm being rewarded for doing something... dirty,” I said.
“Have you harmed anyone?” His breathing was even and deep.
“No.” I heaved a sigh and relaxed again into the lassitude I’d been fighting. “No, I haven’t.” After a few moments just being held, I asked. “Surya, do you always wring people out this way?”
“Yup,” he said straight away. “If they need it.”
“If I do this more, won't I be just as tired as before when I was fighting it?”
He laughed. “I suggest trying it.”
“All right.” I yawned, a jaw-cracking yawn.
“Good, excellent. You just bask, just let yourself feel the good of it. You’ve earned it. What you are doing takes great courage.”
I was already sleepy and muzzily asked, “Really? It feels so good. As if it’s too easy for me.”
“Was it easy to start? As I recall, you were scared shitless.”
I tried to answer him. “You're…” but a huge yawn interrupted me. “…right...”
“Go rest, now. I’ll send you back to the Diamond in a chair.”
“Thank you, Surya."
I barely heard him say, “You're welcome.”