Chapter Number: Three
“The Flower of Youth”
Author: D. Sanders
Posting Completed Story in Five Chapters - Forgive the Barest of Proofreading
Series Title: La Luna ed il suo Amante
Chapter Number: Three
“The Flower of Youth”
Author: D. Sanders
Gallus heard the whimpering from his acolyte’s cubicle and got up to investigate. The youth, newly turned sixteen was crying in his sleep again and Gallus gently urged him to wakefulness.
“Endys, it’s alright. Another dream?” He asked as the boy sat up shaking into his arms for comfort.
“Aye. Father Gallus it’s always the same. I hear a voice calling to me in pain, and then I feel the fire. It consumes me yet the pain of that does not equal the pain of loss that follows as I die.”
“Do you call out in your dreams?”
“I try, but it’s like I cannot. Like my voice is gone, I cannot answer the one calling me and that is where the pain comes from.” Endys sniffed rubbing his eyes. “I used to wish I could dream. Now I have just a single nightmare that repeats. Be careful what you wish for they say.” Endys added still scrubbing moisture from his eyes, a weak smile belying his troubled heart.
“Perhaps it is time you visit the temple. Sometimes when I am troubled just telling Mane’s altar is enough to find peace. He will always listen. He may not help, but sometimes just the listening in and of itself is enough.” Gallus said and Endys nodded and pulled his light blue robe closer about is delicate frame.
“I always talk to Mane, I know he listens. I would like to go though, I have never been to the temple.”
“It’s time I think.” Gallus said as Endys stood and slipped on his plain leather slippers.
“I think so too.” Endys said as he quietly slipped out into the night to make his way to the temple bathed in the full moon’s glow.
Endys entered the temple with emotions warring. Excitement and trepidation, longing and reverence battling each other as his small feet echoed in the empty stone chamber. Up on the altar dais stood a limestone statue of Mane. Endys froze before it, he had never seen the statue before and he was struck with the sheer beauty of Mane. Tall and handsome, his hand reaching out to his followers in kindness where he stood looking sad and alone. Endys’ heart lurched and before he realized what he was doing he was placing his hand in that of the statue’s.
“My Lord Mane. How I wish I could end your sadness. Your eyes are so lonely.” Endys whispered as his fingers traced cold stone.
Endys felt a calming, gentle warmth spread throughout his soul as his hand rested in the stone hand of his God. “My Lord, I came in order to unburden my soul and now I find I cannot. My pain seems so trivial when I look upon the sadness in your expression. A silly child having nightmares is nothing to what I see here. Please allow my company to comfort you dear Mane.” Endys said as he moved to sit at the statue’s feet, his brow resting against the knees of the statue.
He sat that way in silence for a long time, willing his heart toward the effigy in comfort when a voice sounded at the temple door. “Endys? I saw you leave the dorms. Are you alright?” Poll asked stepping into the moonlight. His frame was much taller than Endys remembered. The boy was no more and a young man stood in his place.
“Poll. Aye, I am fine. Thank you for your concern my friend.” Endys smiled, still seated with his head resting on the Statues knees. Poll crossed the floor and knelt before Endys and laid a hand to Endys’ brow.
“Just tired, and I am a lunar acolyte; I don’t see as much daylight hours as you do now.” Endys smiled and leaned away from the touch that lingered uncomfortably long on his brow.
“I worry about you Endys. I miss you.”
“I miss you too, your friendship will always mean a great deal to me.” Endys said shifting away to lean further into the statue; Poll’s proximity was too close.
Poll however did not notice and turned Endys' hand over in his and traced a gentle line along the palm. “As you mean to me. Endys, I care for you very much and I worry, you’ve always been so delicate.”
“Just in appearance.” Endys said taking his hand back and shifting even further away, he did not like where this was headed.
“And in manner. Gentle, beautiful Endys.”
“Stop Poll. No.” Endys stood and crossed the floor.
“Why? It’s not forbidden for us to have lovers. Why do you refuse everyone? Even me, your Poll?”
“Poll, I do love you, just not like that. My affection lies in service to Mane, I just cannot I’m sorry. I don’t mean to hurt you or any of you. Why won’t anyone understand? I cannot just take a lover when my heart is not behind it. It is unfair to both involved.” Endys wrung his hands. Ever since he had become an acolyte, he’d been inundated with unwanted sexual attention from his peers. It was driving him to frustration. It wasn’t that he didn’t have the desires as others his age; it was his need to transfer his affections to a single person. The sun priests, like their God, tended to enjoy the physical attentions of anything that sparked a momentary interest for how ever brief that interest was kindled. Lunar Priests, like their God were naturally monogamous. Choosing partnerships that were more often than not life long relationships based on sincere emotional attachments. Endys cursed his fair features more and more often the older he grew, his looks meant nothing to him, and no one but Mane touched his heart.
“You deny yourself for nothing Endys. Isn’t affection enough? You’ve said yourself that you love me.” Poll asked again getting up to follow Endys across the room.
“I do have affection for you Poll. But it’s not enough, affection like a brother and a best friend but not as a lover. Oh please stop this.” Endys pleaded breaking into frustrated tears. Rushing away across the room and practically cowering behind the tall, life like statue of Mane.
Poll tried approaching, hands out-stretched in a pleading gesture when he was stopped in his tracks by what seemed a wall of energy. “Endys! You block me? Do you think I, who loves you, would harm you? Drop this wall!”
“I’m not doing it. But please Poll, this is Mane’s temple this is not the place for this. You disrespect Mane, please stop.” Endys begged and Poll scowled.
“We will talk about this later.”
“Poll, please there is nothing to discuss. Can’t we just be friends like we were? I don’t want to be your lover. I’m sorry.”
“No Endys. I want you, I love you and I’ll make you understand one day.” Poll said turning and storming out of the temple. Endys collapsed to his knees and clung to the statue of Mane as he sobbed.
“Mane, forgive me. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Endys cried and begged forgiveness when a gentle touch seemed to settle in his head and warm fingers gently caressed his hair.
“Beloved, there is nothing to forgive a pure heart for. When you stay true to yourself, you please me.” Came the soft, lilting baritone. A voice Endys knew intimately in his dreams, the voice that called to him in anguish and pain. Endys took a shuddering breath, leaning into the touch in his hair and daring not open his eyes to gaze upon the God in his presence.
“My Lord. I only wish to serve you. How may I serve you better?” Endys whispered fighting tears of joy as soft hands traced his face.
“Just remember my name Beloved. Just remember.” The deep voice almost cracked with emotion and a warm breath of a kiss was placed upon Endys’ brow. Endys’ shivered, his whole body growing warm with need to be devoured by the God filling the room with his holy presence. As Endys’ opened his eyes, the presence in the room remained, the touch on his skin lingered, but there was nothing in the room other than the still silent statue that Endys’ still clung to.
“Just remember” the voice said one last time before Endys felt moist phantom lips press against his forehead and then fade. Endys felt bereft with loss.
“Mane…” Endys breathed as he shuddered and continued to cling to the legs of the statue. “I love you my Lord.” He added in a whisper as he came down from the most euphoric high he’d ever experienced. His god was pleased with him; he heard his God’s voice calling to him in his dreams, his God loved him as he loved his God in return.
“Go back to bed now Flower. It is safe to return and the hour is late beloved. Come to me whenever you desire, I am always here for you and always will be beloved.” The voice said softly from what seemed the very air itself.
Endys stood and pressed his hands together palm to palm and bowed to the statue as he practically danced out of the temple, sleep would be hopeless tonight for him, he was too filled with joy.
Mane walked beside Endys all the way back to the dormitories, keeping a watch on his beloved until he was safely tucked back into his bed, His heart soaring, Endymion was so close to the surface now that desire was almost enough to allow Mane to show himself to his beloved. But until Endymion called his name, he could do no more than steal the occasional touch, the barest of communication. He could not take a corporeal form until Endymion himself demanded it; Mane had hope at last however that it would be soon.
“Well you did them out of order this time beloved, but you’ve already confessed love, just call my name and I can be with you again.” Mane smiled as Endys finally drifted off to sleep and Mane settled on the foot of the bed to just watch him sleep for a little while, gazing at the ethereal beauty of his most precious flower.
“Are you here My Lord Mane?” Gallus felt the presence and walked in to see Mane on Endys’ bed.
“Aye. He had another close call tonight. This time Poll.”
“Not Poll too. Will the child lose all his friends to lust?”
“Yes. He even makes Gods lust and fight over him Gallus, mortals are no different, you have our faults. And our faults tend to out number our virtues.” Mane said giving a sad almost comical smile to his priest.
“So I can sense your lust in a deep sleep my Lord. Why do you torture yourself?”
“Because I also love him, you know that emotion well Gallus. You loved a long time if I recall. Fifty years with Good Praduc.”
“Aye, I know love well. Praduc was like Endys in his youth. A strong wind would have blown him over.” Gallus grinned remembering his lover who had passed several decades earlier; their long life together had been built on friendship, companionship, and sincere love and affection. Gallus had almost died of Grief when Praduc had passed and he had taken many years to come out of mourning.
“I remember. Dark imp of a lad, he waits for you with Father. When this is over Gallus, it will be your time.”
“About time. One hundred and seven is too bloody old even for a priest.” Gallus chuckled and Mane smiled and reached out to hug his faithful.
“You’re as spry as twelve.”
“I didn’t know Gods could lie.”
Mane just winked and stretched. “It’s dawn, I must go before he wakes and I need my own rest. Fair the day Little Gallus.”
“Fair the Day my Lord Mane.” Gallus chuckled seeing the vigor of youth returning to his God the older Endys grew. It appeared as Endys reached maturity, so too did Mane grow more alive with the passions of his youth. You could hardly tell the difference anymore between their ages, Mane looked no older than a youth of twenty, his brilliant midnight hued eyes danced whenever he looked upon Endys. For the first time in a long time, Gallus had seen Mane not only smile, but laugh occasionally, even if it ended badly, for a brief moment in time, Mane seemed happy again.
The months that followed Endys first trip to the temple seemed to make the youth suddenly bloom into a serene and graceful young man. He spent every night in the temple keeping intimate solitary company with the statue that resided there. Everyday Gallus would find the statue decorated with the tiny white lunar glories and Endys asleep on altar, one hand always resting upon the statue.
“Endys, why do you sleep here night after night?” Gallus asked as once again he had found his acolyte’s bed empty and the youth was asleep in the temple itself.
“Mane comforts me when the dreams come. I haven’t heard him speak since that first night, but I feel him there, holding me until the fear fades again. I love him Father Gallus. Nothing makes me happier than being in his temple surrounded by his kindness. I need to be there father; it’s strange, the longer I am there the less sad the statue looks. If I were asked to sacrifice my life tomorrow for His happiness, I would do so without reservation. This is my purpose. I belong to Mane.” Endys said tucking a long lock of white blond hair behind his ear before kissing the hand of the statue in reverence.
“I fear for your bones. You have never been anything but far too lean my son. The stones will freeze even young joints.” Gallus grinned helping Endys off the floor.
“I am never cold here. Mane keeps me warm.”
“I’ve no doubt of that young one, but do you not think Mane would be upset if you were to forsake your health. Bring a pillow at least next time.” Gallus winked as Endys rearranged the flowers adorning the effigy’s shoulders like a mantle.
“I will.” Endys smiled as he let Gallus lead him to morning prayers and to break their fast with the other priests and acolytes.
“See that you do. Tonight is the Lover’s moon; do not forget the festival blessings tonight after mass. I will need you tonight.”
“I know my duties father, never fear.” Endys said absently stretching, catching his long fall of hair and as it fell and the morning light captured the waves of moonshine, head after head turned. Endys’ unconscious grace and beauty never ceased to end and even priests, far too old to have thought a lustful thought in years, paused to admire and stare at the youth in the flower of his youth walk across the courtyard, arm in arm with his mentor lending him support.
“Endys!” Poll materialized before the pair and offered a bowl of Fruit. “You missed the first mess. I know you like fruit, I saved you some.”
“Poll! How thoughtful! Thank you.” Endys smiled and gently took the bowl in one hand and absently kissed Poll’s cheek amiably. Poll flushed hotly and Gallus sighed. No wonder Sol and Mane fought to such tragedy over Endymion, he was a walking mantrap and was so blind to his own allure it was almost inconceivable. However, he had seen Endys’ total devotion to Mane and how all encompassing it was, Endys noticed only Mane and nothing else. This was getting more and more dangerous for Endys; Gallus would have to talk to him soon. Poll was the worst, that boy would not wait for Endys before taking matters into his own hands, literally, with or without Endys’ consent.
“You’re welcome Endys as ever.” Poll bowed and for now took his leave.
“Come Endys, let us take care of our duties quickly, we’ll need a good rest before tonight’s blessings.”
“Yes, Father.” Endys replied dutiful as ever and supported his mentor as they made their way to morning mass.
Once back in their chambers Gallus sighed as Endys helped settle him into bed. “Endys, sit for a moment. I need to talk to you, to warn you.”
“Warn me father?” Endys asked tucking the blanket around his mentor and then sitting on the floor beside the bed, his cheek resting on the edge. He looked innocent and pure.
“Endys you are no longer a child, and haven’t been for some time now. You do not realize the havoc you wreak on men. After the ceremony tonight I want you to go to the temple and stay there.”
Endys looked resigned for a moment. “I know. They never let me be, they don’t understand.”
“They understand you are beautiful beyond words, kind and honest, gentle and giving. Yours is a beauty that transcends just your face Endys. You will always draw others to you unconsciously and tonight is a night where men will put aside common sense when into wine and a lover’s moon, I would not be able to protect you, Mane can and will. As our only virgin novice, after you bless the virgin cups, I want you to go straight to the temple and stay there.”
“Aye father. I planned to anyway. There is only one love in my heart after my dear mentor father and I would have spent tonight at Mane’s feet anyway.” Endys smiled and Gallus patted his head.
“You are such a treasure Endys. I have a bottle of mead saved there in the sideboard. I think Mane would like it if you shared that with him this night. It is Mane’s wine after all, it is tradition for Virgin’s to give it to their loved ones tonight.”
Endys smiled and went to the sideboard and set aside the bottle after tipping out a glass.
“You are counted as a loved one Father. Please drink this tonight with my love.”
“An honor it will be Endys dear. An honor it will be.” Gallus said yawning as Endys shut the door and retired to his own room in their quarters.
Adorned all in white, his hair crowned with a ring of lunar glories, Endys was a vision of virginal perfection as he stood before the gathered young, boys and girls alike who were still virgins themselves and he said prayers and blessings over their bottles and pitchers of honey mead before sending them out to give the blessed wine to those they loved and cared for most. Most of the older youths come morning would no longer be virgins. It was the lover’s moon, the night where new love was encouraged to bloom.
In nine months there would be many children born of this one night. As Endys had been conceived himself on this night seventeen years earlier judging by his birthday. He smiled to himself as he collected his own basket of mead and fruit and silently and quietly vanished into the night toward the temple.
What awaited him in the temple however almost sent him to his spiritual knees. Candles covered almost every available surface, the floor was strewn with lunar glories and the entire room was fragrant with their perfume. Thousands upon thousands of tiny blossoms littered the floor like a carpet, the dais itself, where night after night Endys has slept on hard stone, was covered in rich silk cushions and linen of purest white. But most shocking of all, standing where the statue always stood, was living stone. Mane himself stood there, dressed in loose black robes gathered at his waist, showing off a strong chest and bare feet. His raven black hair loosely cascading over his shoulders, his pale skin reflecting the candlelight and his tender smile as Endys entered went straight the Endys’ heart and made it pound with wondrous joy.
“My lord Mane.” Endys gasped and almost fell to his knees as they gave out on him but he never fell, Mane was there in an instant holding him up and close in his arms. Inhaling deeply into Endys’ hair.
“My flower. Does this please you beloved?” Mane asked as he scooped Endys’ up into his arms and carried him toward the cushions on the dais, laying him down like spun glass.
Endys couldn’t speak, he could only whimper and shiver with shock and happiness. His whole body quivering with elation as he nodded dumbstruck.
Mane chuckled and laid a hand to Endys’ cheek. “Tonight I am at my strongest. Tonight your love makes this possible. Our love makes this possible.” Mane said trailing his fingers through Endys’ hair, freeing it from it’s flowered confinement and letting it tumble free to fall over Endys’ shoulders in thick waves of silken luminescence. Mane took thick handfuls of Endys’ hair and breathed deeply. “Nothing ever has or ever will be as Fragrant to me than your scent my flower.”
Endys’ shivered from head to toe and let out an involuntary groan. Mane chuckled and let the hair fall from his fingers. “Forgive my over-indulgence beloved. I overwhelm you. Did you bring something to share with me blossom?” Mane said sitting back into the pillows leaning on his elbow, his robes slipping off his shoulder as he did so. He looked like a seductive predator and Endys’ was burning within, his insides taught as harp strings.
“Aye, m-my L-lord.” Endys fumbled with the basket and his hands were shaking so badly he could barely pour the cup of wine, which he almost spilled as he held it out to his God. Rather than taking it from Endys’ hands, Mane leaned forward and held Endys’ prisoner with his eyes as he drank from the cup in Endys’ hands.
Mane leaned back licking his lips. “Lovely, but not nearly as divine as the nectar of my flower.” Mane said taking the cup from Endys’ hand and leaning close pressed his lips against Endys’. Endys’ gasp of shock opened the door and Mane plundered those lips like a starving man finding sustenance at last. Endys’ arms grasped back of their own accord and he was flushed and panting on his back in the cushions before Mane deigned to release him from the sweetest torture he’d ever endured. Once again Mane licked his lips and smiled.
“That is far sweeter than any mead.” Mane said propping himself up on his elbow as he gazed down upon the youth panting beneath him. Mane slowly ran his hands down the front of Endys’ robe and as his hand passed, the robe fell open to reveal Endys’ heaving chest.
“M-M-My Lord.” Endys’ voice quaked with need; Mane laid a finger to his lips.
“Beloved, I would have you call me but one name. Until you remember that name, I would have you just call me Mane. There is no Lord and Servant here beloved. There never was.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Yes, you do. You’ve always known, you just have tried to convince yourself otherwise beloved.”
“I can’t be.”
“You are.” Mane smiled as he laid his cheek against Endys’ chest.
“It is a mortal beat, but still true and pure. The part of you I have always loved best.” Mane added as he turned to kiss the center of Endys’ chest. “Your heart is your greatest virtue, my dearest Endymion.”
Endys’ choked sob was all the warning Mane had as arms furiously sought to embrace him, lips desperately searched for purchase. Mane drank in Endys’ unadulterated joy and elation like divine elixir. “Mane! Mane! Your voice haunting me in my dreams, your pain! Let me end it please. PLEASE! That has only ever been my greatest desire.” Endys’ sobbed as he covered Mane’s face and hands with frantic kisses. Mane just leaned back and smoothed Endys’ hair from his face and laid his forehead against Endys.
“My pain was losing you beloved. My joy is loving you. You’ve already ended my sorrow the moment you told me you loved me again. Please beloved, call my name, look inside and speak to me the name only you have ever called me. The name you call out to me in your dreams. Please beloved.”
Endys closed his eyes as Mane wrapped around him and set him on fire. “I love you and only you… My Yoru.”
It was Mane’s turn to whimper with joy as he crushed Endys to him, covering him in devouring kisses that took Endys’ breath away.
“How I love you, dearest Endymion.” Mane breathed into the crook of Endys’ neck as he pressed him into the cushions, his hands divesting Endys of his robes, revealing flesh flushed pink with desire. Plains of mortal flesh that received the worshiping of a God as Mane’s lips kissed every exposed inch.
“Yoru! Please.” Endys voice sobbed with want as Mane sat up on his heals and divested his own robes. The innocent eyes of Endys were gone and replaced by desire so intense Mane burned.
“Slowly beloved. This body of yours is still mortal. I would not devour you for all the heavens. Tonight I could easily forget my own strength with want of you.” Mane said trailing his fingers slowly down Endys body, stroking and stoking the fires of passion. Endys writhed under his touch, pressing into the touches with a need so great it was palpable.
When Mane’s fingers stroked hardened flesh, Endys’ gasp and immediate response was almost Mane’s undoing. Mane collected the spent droplets and let them fall from his fingers to shower Endys in pearls.
“My Flower’s seeds.” Mane chuckled taking a pearl that had landed on Endys chest and swallowing it like a confection. “I forgot how much they please and sustain me.”
Endys blushed and Mane smiled and leaned over to press one against Endys’ lips. “Taste love.” Mane said and Endys obediently allowed Mane to feed him the pearl. It was salty and sweet all at once, a flavor full of life and indeed - love.
“As delicate as you.” Mane sighed as his hands once more traveled Endys’ electrified body. Fingers pressing and finding intimate intrusion.
“Yoru! Please!” Endys wailed pressing down on those fingers and needing more.
“Aye Endymion Beloved. The moon is at its apex, now we can join.” Mane whispered as he positioned himself above Endys and pushed, joining moral flesh and divine power as one entity that moved in the unison dance of lovers long parted and no longer able to deny their love.
Time seemed to stop as two bodies crashed together in desperation. Moans and cries of passion echoing throughout the temple as voices sang of love and desire for and of each other. Endys clung to strong shoulders that shuddered and shook with exertion as Mane drove deeper and deeper, seeking his own release of centuries worth of loss and despair. Mane cried and groaned and Endys was lost in light and sensation. He was being devoured, burned alive by the power of his God, his lover. He could only hang on with a white knuckled grip and the world was obliterated beyond the immediate sphere around their bodies.
Neither of them noticed a youth, watching in horror and jealousy from the temple window. He had come seeking a lover only to find the object of his desires already being consumed and taken by near brutal force. Sudden overwhelming anger burned in narrowed eyes that watched as Endys, who appeared a willing prisoner of fierce passion, surrendered intimacy long denied to him. Poll was consumed with hatred for the man who dared take what was his. The tall, dark haired stranger who had stolen Endys’ virginity and fueled Poll’s rage, Endys had taken his love and shredded it and turned it into hate. How dare Endys deny him over a stranger! Poll couldn’t look away and every moan of ecstasy and cry of passion burned hotter and hotter in his soul.
Sol smiled as he watched his novice burn with the same fire he burned with every time Mane took what he wanted most. He may be denied contact with Endymion, rejected at his birth. But Poll understood the need, the lust, the all encompassing desire to posses such perfection. So through Poll, Sol’s fire burned. Once again, his vassal would intervene. If Sol couldn’t have Endymion, no one would.
Poll glowered and the moon was already waning and the first rays of false dawn permeated the sky when the dark haired man finally reached his pinnacle and released with a cry that shook the very foundations of the temple before he collapsed atop Endys showering him with spent affections. They both drifted off to sleep soon after, amidst silken sheets and pillows, strewn flower petals, guttered candles and hundreds of tiny droplets of iridescent pearls scattered across bodies and linens, locked in each other’s embrace. The dark haired man possessively wrapped around Endys as he slept.
Poll turned and fled, sick and angry and utterly furious at being spurned in favor of handsome, dark strangers.