Return of the Queen
by Gayle C. Straun
She knew she was in the right place, once again, when the torch illuminated nothing before her—nothing, not the rock tunnel that had been her entire world for the past several hours, not the dripping moss that occasionally threatened to extinguish her only light, not even her own breath wafting in determined clouds before her. This place, at the heart of the great mountain, was like the void of which the elders spoke, that which existed even before the gods. And here she finally stopped. Not a sound, not even an echo, hit the air as she loosened the belt holding her sword and let it fall to what ground there was. She set down the torch, and after that fell her helmet, her bracelets of red gold, her daggers, her corselet, her leathers, her shirt of mail—everything that was upon her, so that the flicker-flame which rested upon the ground illuminated now only the body with which she was born, and nothing else. The cold pricked goosebumps across her satin flesh. It pricked her nipples to stout attention despite the fatigue that suffused every bone and muscle.
Now she took torch back in hand and held it high into the darkness, calling out, “Women of the Mountains! Long-cursed Host of Shadows! I return now to fulfill my oath to you.”
Only silence greeted these words as she stood there in the void. Only silence, until, after what seemed an eternity, she could discern, somewhere in the limitless distance, a flicker, as of a candle buffeted by the wind. And then another appeared, and another, and another, until this mountain hall began to fill with ghostly lights whose glow revealed nothing save themselves. These lights rushed toward the woman in their countless number, taking on, as they neared her, some definition. The vague lights grew into vague bodies, and these gradually became more than just arms and heads. Now faces lined themselves in the dark with the grim angles of skulls bleached clean by time, and these skulls wore every manner of helmet, likewise dented and tarnished by the years, while ghostly bodies stood covered in ghostly armor and the odd hand carried unreal sword or axe. The woman did not move, did not flinch, as the thousand-thousand spectral images slowly surrounded her, the foremost halting within just a few yards of where she stood.
The woman did not move, did not flinch, from the gaze of this hollow-eyed throng, one of whose number finally stepped forward from the ring of spirit and saluted her naked, living counterpart with upraised sword and words that hissed like a green log thrown into the flames: “You have returned to us, maiden queen.”
The queen said only, “I owe you a boon.”
“Do you?” answered the specter. “Others have pledged their honor to us, faithless ones who saw no profit in their vows, knowing we cannot leave these cursed halls. Why do you?”
“Because I owe you a boon,” the queen repeated.
There was a stirring among the silent horde, while the one who had stepped forward seemed to stare into the depths of the queen, meeting the latter’s eye with her own empty but intelligent sockets. Finally, she said to the living woman, “You will give us that for which we long? And you do this freely and of your own volition?”
“I do,” answered the queen.
“Very well.” And with that, the spectral leader stepped forward until the outline of her form disappeared into the body of the queen, and following her came the whole host of spirits, merging with her, becoming one with each other in the nirvana of her flesh, until finally the great hall was seemingly empty save for the naked woman who stood there in the torch light, her eyes closed, drinking in the musty air of the mountain’s heart.
Finally, she opened her eyes, and from behind them a thousand-thousand souls looked out into the world, looked lovingly at the hand now raised before them, the shapely hand of a woman of state painted with the calluses of a warrior. This hand then lifted itself to cheek, ran itself through hair, and a thousand-thousand voices inside the woman cooed with delight almost forgotten. Other fingers came up to her lips and pushed through with taste of sweat and dirt, and all the many women sucked longingly at them.
Finally, the open eyes thought to look down at this body they enjoyed. Eyes took in breasts that hands had to touch, to feel, to know them as their own, caressing every soft curve, playing with the turgid brown circle that surrounded each nipple, and then the nipples themselves—brushed with fingertips, pinched between knuckles, circled predatorily by thumbs. And now the thousand-thousand minds, sure that this was no dream of the dead or mere fantasy, could not wait anymore, and one of their hands slipped quickly down belly and through tuft of curls, pushing between those firm legs. They explored everything: the fleshy labia, the little button that burned white hot, the steamy inner recesses that left those maddened fingers soaked more thoroughly with each thrust. In the delirium, the woman actually fell to the ground, but none of the thousand-thousand minds cared to notice. Hand in cunt, hand on breasts, they relieved themselves their millennia of deprivation, of solitude, the years in which they could enjoy not even each other. Hand now came to mouth to let them drink in what they had missed, while the other led fingers exploring down her backside and deep into her ass. And a thousand-thousand lost souls came again and again and again.
At last, the queen awoke. She was alone again, both inside and outside her body. The torch flickered but dimly, and she reached out for it and blew it into a living flame. It would be enough to see her through the mountain pass and out into daylight. She rose and robed herself once again. Her body was sore through and through at every point of pleasure, but maybe the walk back would help that.
She grabbed the torch and started back from where she came.
Gayle C. Straun is a writer and editor who lives in Arkansas.
Mirrored from Circlet Press: Welcome to Circlet 2.0.