Two days after that Concubitia, my mother brought a man to my room. He was not of our caste. My caste, for all its faults, is very beautiful. We Zarbithnath are tall, muscular creatures, with eyes the colour of lapis lazuli flecked with pyrites. Cobalt and gold, like the lan-lan bird that hides deep in the jungle's heart and whose feathers we plunder for headdresses.
The other castes envy us. Our skin is pearlescent, creamy and lustrous while our hair is fine and pewter-coloured like the butterflies that hover on the jungle's edge. In their prime, our women are willowy, our men powerful. We radiate vitality. There was a time when we smiled often, our eyes glowing with the joy of our existence, but now we do not. There is nothing to rejoice in. Not anymore.
The man my mother brought me was named Alamar. He was of the Durina caste, the one below our own. They are attractive people, but then few of Challas's inhabitants are physically ugly. Only our interiors are corrupt.
The Durina have expressive amethyst eyes that change colour with their mood. If they are uncertain, frightened or nervous, their eyes darken to lavender, but lighten when they are happy, excited or curious. In all the time I knew Alamar, his eyes never strayed from lilac. He said I did that to him, but I suspect all my caste excited him.
My mother closed the door of my room and left us alone. I stared at him arrogantly, one hand resting on my bed's corner post, the other on my hip.
"What do you want?" I said.
He smiled languidly. "You."
I realised that, since I had now come of age, my mother had gifted me a mentor for my sexual education. My arrogance evaporated. My right hand fluttered to my mouth as though shielding it.
He stepped toward me and took it, kissing my fingers. "Do not be frightened."
But I was. My head had filled with the horrific rape I had witnessed, with the disgusted looks of those around me, with the sadistic smiles of those who had gained pleasure from the girl's pain. I tore my hand from Alamar's and turned my back.
Silence reigned. No sound penetrated the thick tufa walls of our house. No yells from the raucous market, no screeches from the jungle birds, no clatters from our household kitchen. I waited, breathing shallowly, expecting at any moment for my tunic to lift and for exploring fingers to probe my insides. But no such thing happened.
My trembles subsided and I realised my fear was unfounded. I held the power, not he. I was Zarbithnath, the ruling caste. I commanded the Durina, not the other way around.
Slowly, I turned to face him. "You may leave, Alamar. I am sure my mother will still pay you."
His eyes retained their lilac hue. Alamar was not cowed by me.
"I do not offer my services for money, Phalandria. I offer my skills to the women of Challas for pleasure, not avarice."
His voice was honeyed, deep, melodic. It sounded the way a tongue feels on your skin. Sensual. Arousing. I began to forget my trauma. My mind drifted toward other memories. The ecstatic cries of our tiny Nandrin housemaid as my youthful neighbour buried his face between her thighs, his lips and chin becoming wet with her juices as he probed and flicked with a sinuous tongue. The exquisite pleasure on the face of a basketweaver as she was impaled between two of her fellow workers, their cocks sliding in and out of her slippery orifices in beautiful syncopation. The clench and throb of my vaginal muscles as I watched, drawn, like the crowd that gathered beside me, hummingbirds to nectar.
I thought of Massilis, of his magnificent cock as he let a kneeling Durina woman suck on it, barely able to fit it in her mouth, both her hands gripping the long shaft. Her gasps as he laid her gently on her back and thrust slowly into her, his hands on her breasts, her nipples puckered. The sight of them coming together like two howling tornados had invaded my dreams for weeks and left me agonised with jealousy and unresolvable lust.
My trembles returned, but they were not from fear. My body tingled with the onset of desire, the flutter of primitive need that exists in all of us. The imperative to fuck. Alamar's irises paled further, as though he could smell my embryonic excitement.
He took a step toward me, a dark, purple-eyed version of the man I craved, Massilis. The caramel skin of his chest rippled in a way I found mesmerising, like water over smooth, worn rock or silk as it runs through fingers. I dropped my eyes to his loincloth. It protruded outward. Pointing at me. Provocative.
"You are, I think, blessed with great passion." He ran a long finger down my cheek and across my lips.
I licked them involuntarily, catching a taste of him. Salt and sugar, sweet and sour. I wondered if that was what a cock would taste like. I found myself wanting to know.
"You may decline my services, of course, but it would be my great honour to educate you. You are..." he paused and placed the finger I had licked into his mouth, savouring the taste of me on him, "...very arousing."
All memory of the Concubitia washed out of me, sluiced by the honeyed promises of a Durina tutor, by my rabid craving to explore this unknown landscape. I nodded, unable to speak, hypnotised by the way he sucked his finger, as though the act was something indulgent.
I inhaled, catching the scent of him, a lightly spiced odour that pricked the membranes of my nose, and I wondered if this was a trick, another way of rousing me from my sexual sleep. My senses flared, awake at long last. I wanted to learn. I wanted to discover the jungle of this desire. But most of all I wanted Massilis.
For if I was no longer a shocked virgin at the next Concubitia, he would want me also.
Alamar waited. He would do nothing without my consent.
I reached for the sash of my tunic and dug my fingers into the knot at my waist. "Then we shall start."
His hand covered mine, stilling it. "There is no hurry Phalandria. As you will discover, anticipation holds as much pleasure as the act. It is from our burgeoning arousal that we learn the meaning of true pleasure."
I swallowed. His eyes were locked on mine, pulsing lilac. Part of me wanted this done quickly, but another part of me was intrigued by this unknown land of pleasure. I was anxious, aroused, curious. I took another deep breath. This time, I detected another scent. An aroma which tickled my mind as well as my nose. It was something I had smelt previously, a scent with which I was familiar, yet I could not place it.
I flicked my gaze downward. His loincloth sat curtained, pushed aside by his erection. His cock stood turgid and, from the very tip, a tiny bead of clear fluid glistened. My eyes widened. I had the urge to touch that bead, to feel it slip between my fingers, to rub it slowly around the head of that smooth, caramel-coloured cock.
I licked my lips again and refocussed on Alamar.
"You excite me, Phalandria."
Alamar excited me also, but I was not yet ready to admit it.
His hand released mine and drifted slowly up my arm, his fingers caressing my skin. As they tickled their way to my shoulder they left a wake of raised hairs. Tiny erections of my own. Although they were not the only ones.
My breasts pushed against the thin fabric of my tunic, the material catching on my taut, sensitised nipples. I could feel the fineness of the weave, the minute threads as they grazed against the stiff nubs. My mouth parted, my breath brushing my lips with increased frequency. A prickle of sweat rose on my forehead. Excitement-filled blood surged through my arteries and veins. While snaking through my lower belly, writhing hotly in my slippery groin, came the aching pulse of sexual need.
His fingertips rested on the hollow between my shoulder and neck.
"Do you feel it, Phalandria?"
His voice was low, barely a whisper. He stepped closer. Heat radiated from his bare skin. The smell of spice and the fluid on his cock intensified. Every hair on my head and body raised itself. The muscles in my shoulders and back tensed as though I was readying myself to run or fight.