The Goddess' Retreat

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CKent45
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Wed Jun 15, 2022 4:05 am

Over the following days between that evening and Maceo’s next planned trip to town, Maceo worked as diligently as he could, though most of his active time was spent in the library studying harder than he’d ever done before.

Unfortunately for him, Astravia’s ravenous sexual appetite was being exposed to him in all its insatiability. Eons of pent up desire was now revealing itself to both Maceo and Astravia as feelings of excitement, yearning, and joy began erupting from her like a long dormant volcano.

By the morning he was scheduled to leave, he was lying beside her on her bed with her head nuzzled near his chest panting and sweating from an extremely rigorous session, the sixth in less than 24 hours. He certainly wasn’t complaining, though. In fact, he was grinning ear to ear as she purred like a kitten about to pounce again on her favorite toy. “You should skip this summit,” she suggested to him, stroking his chest gently with her fingertip.

“I can’t do that,” he laughed back at her, his racing breath finally caught.

“It’s such a small summit. You cannot even call it a summit. It is merely a few village leaders. Stay here! We can go flying together!” she urged him. He laughed and hugged her head, kissing her forehead.

“We went flying yesterday,” he explained. “And then you flew above my craft, grabbed the wings with your talons and forced me down. You didn’t even wait for me to finish climbing out of the cockpit before you are all over me.”

“I am just a bit wound up,” she answered him rather defensively.

“If this is a bit, then what does completely look like?” he laughed.

“Are you complaining?” she asked with mild shock and a bit of offense, then squeaked with surprise as he rolled over and kissed her hard and passionately, his suddenly erect penis poking her nipple.

“I’m a little wound up too,” he told her as she willingly rolled over to her back as he hugged her breast with all of his arms and kissed and sucked on her nipple to very appreciative sighs and soft moans. As with all of their sessions, her pleasure and tension built until she reached a comfortable plateau where she stayed for a while before then rolling over and grabbing control of him hungrily and fucking him wildly until his penis twitched happily and spent itself once again.

“You are losing your stamina,” she teased him as he gasped desperately for air again. She laughed and pulled him up as she rolled over onto her back, wrapping her breasts around him and stroking his body with them.

“No, you’re just getting better at getting me off,” he laughed.

“I am a goddess. I could get you off in an instant if I wanted to.”

“Sure. Fall back on your powers to do the job now that you’re starting to realize it takes real work,” he taunted her.

Her mouth fell open and she looked at him in disbelief. “I do not need my powers!” she gasped in horror. He merely laughed at her and kissed her collarbone. “Honestly!” she exclaimed, as though she were aghast.

She released her breasts and pressed a finger against his back, which was suddenly glowing with a warm light that quickly enveloped his whole body and then faded away as quickly as it had begun. He looked around, surprised as all of his strength and energy returned to what it had been before their first time together. “Sit up,” she commanded him and grabbed both of his shoulders, pushing him to his knees. Much to his surprise, he was already achingly hard for her. She then pressed her breasts up again, her stiff, swollen nipples still aching for action of their own.

“You had better hold tight,” she warned him with a threatening voice. He raised an eyebrow and did as asked, then shivered as she lifted her head, her lips encompassing and wrapping firmly around his cock.

“What?” was as far as he got before she began working her lips and tongue around his cock with unbelievable force and speed, but also the gentleness of a warm bucket of water poured fluidly over one’s body as he immediately moved into a loud, continuous moan that lasted all of three seconds before he exploded into her mouth, bucking his hips with all of his strength as he surged as though all of the cum in his suddenly restored body was being expelled all at once with a mighty roar from his lungs as he squeezed her nipples with all of the strength his mortal hands could muster.

She then dropped her head back to her pillow and smirked up quite satisfied with herself as he fell to his hands and knees on her chest, already sweating profusely and fighting desperately in a losing battle to catch his breath.

Her smirk widened at him and she made swallowing as obvious as possible while also licking her lips sensuously. “Quite easy,” she commented to him with the smugness only a queen could deliver. He tried to laugh as he wheezed harder than he’d ever done in his life, sweat pouring off of his forehead and dropping onto her chest in splatters. “That was actually quite a lot,” she complimented him, regarding his load. “It hit the back of my throat so hard and in such quantity, it nearly set off a gag reflex.”

Still wheezing and sweating profusely, Maceo still found himself able to snicker at her. She tightened her smile and raised an eyebrow playfully. “Now what do you say?” she asked him leadingly.

“I… win,” he declared with separate, desperate breaths.

“AH!” she gasped at him in disbelief. She then raised a hand and with two fingers and a flick of her wrist, she knocked him backward and onto his butt where he sat, laughing as best as he could. Thankfully for his sake, she couldn’t help but laugh as well quite healthily.

She let him swim in his exhaustion for a moment before she grabbed him with both hands again and pulled him off of her stomach and laid him down between her breasts once more and squeezed them around him. “You are certainly not traveling in this condition,” she giggled at him and touched his back again, repeating that same warm glow and revitalizing him once again.

In return, he reached wide and kissed the goddess’ collarbone quite affectionately. “I would have caught my breath,” he told her with a chuckle.

“Oh Maceo,” she called down to him with a taunting tone. He looked up to see her smirking face right in front of his. “I am still waiting for mine,” she taunted.

“It’s coming,” he promised.

“Is it? Because I am quite far away from an orgasm,” she teased him.

“You’re complaining?”

“Actually no,” she answered, moving to be a little more serious now. “Being with you has been so very nice, and it feels quite good. And I am surprised at how vigorous you are.”

“I try to eat well,” he answered her, smirking still. She grinned and then pinched his butt.

“I am being serious,” she scolded him with a giggle.

“And I am in love with you,” he told her, instantly stopping her in her tracks at the unexpected declaration. “Don’t mistake my joking with you as my love being unserious. I love you with all my heart, so I will do everything in my power to share that love as much as possible.”

Her smile softened and she pulled him close, nuzzling and kissing him. “The first to make you orgasm in over one hundred and fifty thousand years,” he remarked once they’d settled again. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“Bold words,” she snickered to him as she wrapped her breasts around him again and squeezed. “And no action yet to be seen.”

“Then tell me seriously,” he said, pushing himself up enough be able to lean on her and look down at her. Her brow lifted and she awaited his question. “Am I getting any better for you?”

“Much,” she answered him with a smile. “And very quickly.”

“You’re ecstasy will be here sooner than you think,” he promised her.

“Big talk, little mortal,” she mocked, then wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly.

They took time for breakfast together, but then she saw him off with a load of several weapons and a few pieces of armor. This time as he rode off, she leaned against the frame of the massive city gate, both hands pressed together and against it, smiling at her new lover quite fondly.

Maceo arrived a little behind schedule but full of life and vigor, thanks to Astravia’s reset. In fact, as he walked into town, his head high and chest out, most there seemed to take note and interest, including a number of ladies, most especially Lale but also Elaheh, who was standing near her fiancé who was glaring quite jealously.

Maceo was all business, however. He went directly to the home the elders were meeting in and sought out the owner of said home. “Most are already here,” she informed him. “A couple are still expected to arrive today.”

Maceo nodded and began making rounds around the town, checking in with those that he knew and also gaining advice on who was here for their summit. He met each and every representative he could find, shaking hands and speaking to them after introducing himself.

As it turned out, the bandit problem had been a large one for some time now, but the sudden surge in wealth at the furthest settlement up the mountain was proving to be a boon for thieves as well. All of the towns and villages on and around the mountain were suffering from increased robberies as well as murders.

One chieftain that he spoke to told him a story of one of his daughters being stolen from him just outside of his own house and found the next day, bloodied, used and murdered just outside of town. Many in town looked at the ground in shame listening to his story, but Maceo offered no such sorrow. Instead, he lead him back to his cart and drew out a brand-new sword of Damascus steel and a shield and handed it to the man.

“Keep your other daughters close,” he warned him. “And protect them with this.”

“Where did you get this?” he remarked breathlessly. A few other representatives from neighboring settlements gathered around, looking it over.

“One of my skills is blacksmithing,” Maceo informed him.

“You… made this?” he asked, quite taken aback. Maceo nodded and patted his shoulder.

“If we form a militia, and you are able to supply militiamen, these are what they will be able to carry.”

“I don’t know how to wield a sword,” he remarked, still admiring the blade.

“We’ll practice during breaks in our meetings,” Maceo promised. “You won’t be an expert, but by the time you leave here you’ll at least have some skill with it.”

“You’re the one we’ve heard about,” another man remarked, stepping out from the crowd. All eyes were now on him. “You arrived here, and suddenly this destitute town sprang to life.”

“I wish I could take credit for that, but I definitely can’t,” Maceo told him earnestly.

“It’s a strange coincidence,” the man challenged.

“They’ve had a wave of success. I’m just lucky that wave came not long after I came here the first time and now I’m just doing my part to try to ride that wave too.”

“By giving out swords? Better swords than I’ve seen kings wield?”

“If you don’t like my swords, then you don’t have to use them,” Maceo told the man, who became quite irritated.

“Word is you’re a sorcerer,” he added with grit and spite.

“I know how to wield magic. But I’m not a sorcerer.”

“That is the definition of sorcerer,” he accused boldly.

“It’s not,” Maceo answered. “Sorcerers are a guild. They’re a kind of… fellowship. They have strict rules and customs. I learned magic in another way.”

“And what way was that?” he demanded to know.

“None of your business. You’re not my friend and you’re definitely not acting like one. You obviously have a problem, so why don’t you spit it out?” Maceo challenged.

“I don’t trust sorcerers. Our village has seen more than it’s share from the trouble sorcerers bring.”

“Well, then you’ll be happy to know that there will be no sorcerers here.” Unbeknownst to them, on the outskirts of the crowd stood a woman of impressive height, probably in her late twenties wearing a somewhat stylish cloak. She’d been watching the crowd for some time and the discussion between Maceo and this outsider had her full and undivided attention, which was now solely focused on Maceo.

Maceo Argued with the man for only a moment longer before he cut him off at the beginning of a diatribe. “No one forced you to come here and no one’s going to force you to participate. No one’s going to be casting spells on you or turning your family into newts. We’re here to do business and try to make this area a safer place and if that doesn’t suit you, then by all means. I wish you the best of luck.”

The man stood in shock and that shock doubled as soon as Maceo turned and walked away, at first when he stomped after to confront Maceo, but several other men gathered behind him as he walked, blocking his way.

The meetings were fruitful. The town elders hosted while they had Maceo lead the meetings. He began with going around the group asking each of them to describe the troubles they’d had as well as any details they had on specifically where incidents had occurred and how many had been seen involved in them.

These discussions went on into the evening following dinner until as it grew dark, Cajsa slipped in and tugged on Maceo, begging him to join their performance.

“It’s probably not the best idea,” Maceo told her after stepping away for a moment to address her.

“We want to make as good of an impression as we can, though,” she insisted.

“You all are wonderful! You’ll do fantastic.”

“We took a vote. It’s unanimous. We want to do the same performance you did in Longsgallow.”

“I’m already getting in fights with men and being called a sorcerer. I think the last thing I want to do is provoke them.”

“Maceo please!!” she begged. He looked off to the side and clenched his jaw.

“They only sent you because they know I’m incapable of saying no to you,” he scolded her. She blushed and turned away while Maceo stewed. A short distance away, that same woman was watching him nonchalantly from the corner of a building. “Alright, fine,” he agreed. “But I haven’t had any opportunity to rehearse, so I’ll have to do my thing and you’ll all have to figure out how to compliment me.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she squealed and jumped up, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him on the cheek. He smiled at her and sent her on her way. He then turned his head skyward as though he was sighing with frustration.

“I really hope that wasn’t offensive to you,” he whispered up to the sky, assuming Astravia was watching and listening in.

“You are fine, my dearest Maceo,” she cooed back to the globe lovingly.

Maceo went to the center of the gathering again and addressed the crowd. “Apparently I’ve been recruited into tonight’s entertainment,” Maceo announced. “Let’s all adjourn until tomorrow.”

The show was beyond spectacular. Maceo gave a repeat of most of his first performance, only this time with six assistants spread out a dozen yards from him, half mimicking his conjurings, and the other half adding their own marvels of flame on the outskirts of their nighttime stage.

Added this time was a handful of other teens, pounding on drums and the addition of loud explosions added to their colorful displays that rocked the mountain to glorious screams of delight.

When it was all said and done, the town square was cleared so that the magicians could clean up after themselves and that same woman could be barely seen standing in shadows, now with the hood of her cloak up, observing them all quietly from a distance. Once they were all finished, they each exchanged hugs, and Cajsa gave Maceo another sweet kiss on the cheek before he waved to them as they all headed home for the evening and he back to the inn.

“I didn’t kiss her back,” Maceo reminded Astravia softly as he walked along. “And I didn’t encourage her,” he added.

Astravia, however, was more interested in the cloaked woman, who was making her way behind a row of buildings in an attempt to head Maceo off. “You had better not make me fly all the way out there,” she threatened the figure.

She made it around a shop near the end of the row and sauntered out as Maceo approached. “Hi,” she called out to him invitingly, leaning against the wall with her hands neatly folded behind her back. Maceo turned and looked at her, offering a pleasant smile and greeted her back, but kept walking. She pushed herself off of the wall and moseyed on over playfully, smiling sweetly at him. “So, you’re not from around here?” she asked him.

“Neither are you, unless I’m mistaken?” Maceo answered back with a smile. He continued walking, but slowed down slightly, though he did give her a bit of a look when she tried to cozy up to him which warned her off, but only a little. “You’d like something?” he asked her leadingly.

“I heard you’re the sorcerer who trained all those magicians?”

“I’m definitely not a sorcerer,” Maceo answered back. “Seems to be coming up a lot today.”

“But you did teach them?” He nodded and smiled. “I bet you could teach me a thing or two,” she told him seductively. Far off in her study, Astravia’s eyebrow was twitching nearly constantly.

“Well, what I showed them isn’t hard to master,” he shared. “I’m pretty sure they’re going to turn it into a real art form, though. I’m Maceo, by the way,” he said, offering her a hand, which she took, her smile widening as he shook and then retrieved it.

“Rhona,” she greeted back, practically dancing as they walked.

“I’m afraid I’m not taking any other students right now, though.”

“Perhaps you could teach me something else,” she insinuated.

“I get the feeling you’re a bit of a connoisseur of knowledge yourself,” he smiled back slyly.

“Good. He sees it,” Astravia said, leaning back now and relaxing more.

“It’s my accent,” she shared, twirling as she walked, though seeming rather confused for an instant before grinning again at him. “Something happens to it when you spend that much time in school.”

“Well, you wear it well.”

“Men like you are pretty rare. Especially in remote places like this.”

“How do you mean?”

“I mean, smart, educated, confident… wealthy,” she suggested.

“I’m not that wealthy.”

“The residents here say you lent them a large amount of money recently.” Maceo nodded and confirmed her query. “Then you must have quite a bit of wealth.”

“Not so much. I guess you could say I bet the farm,” Maceo told her, hoping it would dissuade her.

“Would you like a drink?” she asked him.

“I’m actually a bit tired. It’s been a long day and a long journey here.”

“I actually came all the way up here, just hoping to meet the handsome sorcerer of this town,” she complimented.

“Well, I’m afraid I’m not available,” Maceo told her apologetically.

“I don’t see a ring,” she suggested. “Just a drink,” she insisted.

“Just do it,” Astravia sighed, flicking her wrist and leaning her cheek against her hand. “So tedious.”

“Give me a chance. If you get to know me, who knows what could happen?”

“Life seems full of mysteries,” Maceo answered. He was about to speak when a firefly flew directly in his path in the direction of the tavern. He looked and two more flew by, then three. He wagged his head and shrugged his shoulders. “Sure, why not?” he asked and walked with her, noting when she attached herself to his arm and pranced along with him.

Once there, she asked about him with constant questions. She asked about where he grew up, what his parents did for a living, but also where he managed to obtain such schooling. She seemed a bit frustrated when he didn’t say much more than a very wealthy patron stumbled on him and took pity after he’d wandered away from his hometown. They talked and talked, though she was even tighter lipped about her own background than he was and when he pressed, she was quick to point that out, though she did so quite jokingly and charmingly.

Eventually, Maceo found himself getting drowsy, so he asked to call it a night, and perhaps connect with her again the next day.

“I’m staying in the inn, too,” she eagerly shared. “Could you at least walk me back? Since we’re going the same way?”

Maceo was a bit hesitant, but then Astravia hadn’t laid out any other signs, so he agreed and the entire walk back to the inn, she swung back and forth. “I’m a little tipsy,” she glowed up at him giddily as they walked, still hanging on his arm, giggling even harder as Maceo began playing along and laughing with her until they were in a silly waltz together. As they approached the inn, she spun in front of him and pressed her body against his.

“Maceo, please,” she begged, capitalizing on his much loosened mood now. “Spend the night. I’ll make it a night you’ll never forget,” she promised.

“I’m afraid I don’t sleep with women I’ve just met,” he told her politely and gently peeled her from him.

“That’s because you have no idea how much I need it,” she grinned seductively and bit down on her lower lip while grabbing his wrist and pulling it between her legs. “I know you want it,” she said. “I can see it in your eyes. You’re attracted to me.”

“You’re very beautiful, but like I said, I don’t sleep with women I’ve just met.” She continued to grin at him, but he pulled her free. “Have a good evening Rhona,” he said and then began walking away.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” she grumbled and when Maceo turned around she was standing with her hands outstretched at him and looking at them with immense shock and confusion. She waved her hands again at him while Maceo stood and waited patiently. She tried again and stared, now fearfully, then fished a pouch from her purse and threw some powder at him, then threw a vial at his feet, but all of it did nothing, all the while she became more and more panicked and confused.

“This is why I don’t sleep with women I’ve just met,” he told her, folding his arms. “Well, that’s not really true, but if it was, I wouldn’t need any other reason.”

“What the fuck did you do to my magic?” she asked him still staring at her hands in horror.

“So that was a spell you tried to pull when we shook hands,” Maceo said, shaking his head.

“What the fuck did you do?” she demanded. Maceo sighed and shook his head, moving his hands to his hips.

“Does the guild just not teach that language anymore? I know you saw the posts when you came into town. They’re at every single entrance.” She looked around her searching desperately for any sign of what had just occurred.

“What the fuck did you do to me?” she demanded again, her entire body now quaking with fear.

“Like I said, there were signs posted at every entrance to town. Were you not able to read them?”

“Of course I could read them you little twat! What the fuck does that have to do with anything?”

Maceo spoke in a strange language, the same that Astravia had spoken to her own kind before coming to this world. He then repeated it, translating into their language. “Those of the guild of sorcery and their like: do not enter. It was as clear as I could make it.”

“This is… this is…” she struggled and stammered. “This is bullshit! You can still use your magic! Those amateurs can use their magic! Why can’t I??” she demanded.

“Because it’s gone,” Maceo answered her. “That’s why the signs were posted. Carved in stone. I wish you had understood we were serious.”

“No…” she whimpered, now slowly dropping to her knees as she stared at her hands. “No…”

Maceo took a long, deep breath and then sighed. “Why did you come?” he asked her.

“But you can still use your magic,” she whimpered as she sobbed up to him.

“I’m not a sorcerer. I keep telling people that. Neither are my students.” His words were soft and also full of sympathy. “Why did you come?”

“For you,” she growled. “For you, you covenant breaking piece of shit!”

“I didn’t break any covenants.”

“Yes you did! No one touches magic! Not without the guild’s approval. No one! Now give it back! Give it back! Please, give it back to me!” she sobbed, now hanging on his leg.

“I can’t Rhona. I’m sorry, but it’s gone. Your connection to it’s been broken. That was why I put the signs up in that language, to make sure you would know it was serious.”

“Give it back! Give it back! Please just give it back!!” she sobbed.

“What were you going to do with me?”

“Find out where you learned your magic and then put you to death,” she answered, sobbing on her knees. “The guild has a contract out on you. I was just following the contract. Now please… please… I’ll do anything. Anything you want! I’ll leave! You’ll never see me again, just give it back! Please!”

“I’m sorry, but it’s permanent. There’s no giving your magic back.”

“But you cast the spell! There has to be a way!” she begged, tears streaming across her face.

“No, there’s not. Not by me,” Maceo told her. Astravia was now watching quite contemplatively through her globe, considering the situation carefully and waiting to see what Maceo would be able to accomplish through his conversation.

Rhona, unfortunately, was a ragged mess, having spent the entire day walking the streets of this little town with no idea that she’d been stripped of the single most important part of her, something she’d spent her entire life acquiring and now gone in an instant.

“Well, at least we didn’t have to have a battle with magic,” Maceo said, offering some silver lining for the situation.

“I would have crushed you,” she spat at him. “I’ve heard the stories about your little excursion. He was very clear on your abilities and you wouldn’t have stood a chance against me.”

“Am I supposed to be impressed by a woman trying to start a dick measuring contest with me?” he asked her. She screamed and swung her arm to try to slap him, but he caught it and held her in place. “Was magic your only real skill?” She suddenly broke down sobbing again and he shook his head at her. “Come with me. Let’s get you cleaned up,” he told her. She resisted, but he pressed further. “The barrier set up that did this to you was demanded by the town for their protection. They’re not very friendly to the idea of sorcerers being here, and the town is now filled with guests that are even less happy with the idea. If we keep making a scene I don’t think they’ll care whether your magic has been stripped from you.”

She relented and Maceo helped her to her feet and walked her inside the inn and up to his room where he sat her on his bed and poured her some cool water and rinsed a washcloth to wipe her sweaty and greasy face to help freshen her a little.

“I’d be willing to apprentice under you,” she tried to bargain. “I’ll serve you for the rest of my life if you just give me my magic back!” she insisted.

“I’m afraid that won’t work.”

“You’re doing it with a pact,” she insisted.

“I’m actually not,” Maceo answered her.

“How is that possible? The only ones that can do that are the guild!”

“It wasn’t always like that,” Maceo replied calmly, helping her with her cloak and he began trying to brush it off for her. “Hundreds of years ago there were other groups that practiced magic. Some used pacts, a couple others didn’t. The guild intentionally ran them into extinction. You know you’re playing with fire, right?”

“What fire? The guild controls the use of magic around the world. No one else is allowed to touch it without guild approval!”

“Have you ever read the original charter?” Maceo asked her.

“What charter?”

“The charter that Astravia made with your guild. There were specific things you were supposed to do with your magic and there were conditions to run unsupervised.” She sat up rigidly, unsure how to respond to his question.

Maceo then pulled some salts and another powder from a pouch and spread it in a pattern on the table in the room and cast a spell which manifested in the image of a piece of parchment that looked extremely old. He brought her to the table and showed it to her, allowing her to read for herself. She spent a good deal of time scanning over the details and studying it, growing more and more concerned as she went until she looked at Maceo, who was sitting in a chair and waiting patiently for her to finish.

“Where did you get this?” she asked him breathlessly.

“Each of the magical societies had a charter like this. This is just a copy.” Truthfully, it was the actual original, drawn up and signed by Astravia herself. “The guild is in violation of their charter. They have been for centuries.”

“Well so what? So what if we are? Who else would provide the order the guild does?”

“This charter is a contract. It allows you to get access to powers that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to touch as a mortal. If Astravia ever decided to, she could void the charter and wipe your entire guild out.”

“Astravia’s gone. She’s been gone for so long that the world barely even remembers she existed, and no one outside the guild even believes she was real.”

Maceo put his face in his hands and wiped them down his face. “I’m telling you: you are playing with fire. This document proves that she is very real and if she ever comes back and flexes her muscles, there are going to be extremely serious consequences. Another thing: I know that the guild has only been taught how to read the language of the gods. Not speak it. But you still recognized it when I spoke it, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t think it would sound like that…” she answered, shaking her head and looked at Maceo who was still waiting on her. “But, yes.”

“I did that on purpose. That was another warning. Do you know what it means that first I know how to speak that language and second, that I am allowed to speak it?”

“It means you’re favored,” she answered, now looking at her feet.

“But you’re putting hit contracts out on me!”

“The inner circle ordered it. The last one who refused to carry it out was killed.”

“So you had no choice.”

“No.”

“Why did he refuse to carry it out?”

“Because he said you were probably favored. Are you?”

“It sounds so arrogant to say it,” Maceo said, shaking his head, “but yes.”

“But how? How is that even possible? The last favored I’ve ever heard of died over four hundred and fifty years ago!”

“I’m only going to answer so much. But I’m telling you again: you are playing with fire,” he told her much more firmly this time. “This is a fire that could explode in your face and burn everything you know to a crisp. The guild is in blatant violation of their charter and sooner or later it’s going to burn them.”

Astravia continued to watch the conversation, still contemplating. “You have gotten farther than I thought you would,” she admitted, though whatever concerns she had didn’t seem to be quelled.

“The guild has to stop. They have to stop immediately. You don’t attack a favored!”

“You can’t be favored! Astravia has been gone for more than five centuries!”

“You didn’t know that the guild was bound by a charter. What else don’t you know?” he asked her. She paused and was forced to reconsider her preconceived notions finally. “You need to stop, and you need to convince your inner circle to study their charter and start following it.”

“I can’t!” she exclaimed with frustration. “I can’t communicate with them or enter their hermitages without my magic!”

“I’m going to give you a warning,” Maceo told her, growing quite ominous now as he spoke to her. “The reason that the magical societies were not allowed to operate in Astravia’s temple is because her clergy were the final arbiter in these charters. They always had the authority to withdraw the charter.”

“The last high priestess died decades ago,” she pointed out, scoffing.

“Do you hear yourself?” Maceo asked her.

Astravia huffed and sighed heavily. “She is taking far too much effort to convince, and she was only sent as a henchwoman. This is not worth the effort,” she grumbled. “Can you create a miracle, my dearest Maceo?”

Maceo continued to argue with her until he finally hit her with, “Rhona, the power to wipe your entire guild out of existence is sitting out there and all it takes is someone with the authority to just confirm that you’ve violated the charter. It even says that you must operate in the open, but you’ve been operating for centuries from the shadows!”

Astravia considered this point and suddenly her eyes narrowed considerably. Rhona was suddenly stunned into hearing his point and she went pale and covered her mouth with both hands.

“I can’t contact them without my magic,” she insisted. “They won’t even acknowledge me.”

“Then I’d disavow them. Break your bond to them and move on before it’s too late.”

“I’ve dedicated my entire life to them, though,” she whined.

“Your power is gone, Rhona. If you’d have just talked to me, I would have listened, but instead you tried to attack me. Anyone else from the guild who enters this village will suffer the same fate. I tried to warn you.”

“Their hubris has expanded far beyond their abilities,” Astravia grumbled from her study.

Rhona finally capitulated and nodded in acceptance of Maceo’s warnings. She pulled her sleeve up and took off an elaborate bracelet that sat over a tattoo on the inside of her arm. “I can’t do it by myself anymore,” she complained and handed the bracelet to him.

“I know. It’ll hurt,” he told her. She nodded and lowered her head.

“You’re sure I can never get my magic back?” Maceo sighed and thought hard.

“Give me until the morning. I will see what I can do, but I can promise you that the power to restore your magic isn’t something in my toolkit. Either way? You really need to break the bond with the guild. They are jumping up and down on ice only a fraction of an inch thick.”

“But if you give me my magic back, maybe I could convince them,” she insisted.

“You never ‘had’ magic. You had a connection to magic. Magic is everywhere. That’s why we have to use tools and implements to use it. I know the guild has been really clever with how you access magic, but it’s still the same story. It all boils down to tools and implements. When you walked through the barrier, the connection was snapped. The only way for you to have magic again is to create a brand new connection. We don’t create connections, we just use the ones we already have. I’ll see what I can do,” he told her. “But tell me any sorcerer who has ever created a connection to magic from nothing.”

“I’ve never heard of it,” she admitted. “Tomorrow morning? You promise?”

“Meet me for breakfast and we’ll talk. I certainly hope after everything you’re willing to act a little more civilly now.” She sniffled and nodded. “Alright, I need to see the entire tattoo,” he told her.

She nodded and stood and then reached behind her back and unbuttoned her dress, asking Maceo to assist her. She then pulled her dress down and off of her, leaving her in nothing but a pair of panties as she stared at the floor. “I never thought I would do this,” she admitted.

“I’m sorry,” he told her as he lifted her right arm out. Before him stood a mostly naked red haired woman with very round, plump and firm breasts in the neighborhood of a large c cup, perhaps a small d cup. The tattoo in question was a mixture of intricate patterns that ran up the inside of her arm and then spread out over the entire right side of her back and chest as well as down her side, stopping just above her hip. She was tall (nearly as tall as Maceo) and athletic looking with soft, supple skin and as attractive as she was, there was really nothing erotic about her appearance given the somber mood in the room.

Maceo pulled the ingredients needed from her purse as well as what he had on hand while she just stood there sadly, waiting for the results of their ritual. Maceo mixed them together, creating a thick paste, which he then used a powder on, which ignited it into a nearly florescent glow to it and he began spreading it over her tattoo, tracing it as carefully as he could with the paste until it was completely covered. Now he stood back and made a sign with his hands.

“Are you ready?” he asked her. She closed her eyes, still struggling with the decision.

“Can I change my mind?” she asked.

“You can,” Maceo told her, “but you’ll be a powerless sorceress tethered to an organization that’s running a dangerous risk. And even if we restore your magic, it wouldn’t be affiliated with the guild.”

“But they’ve gone this long without raising any ire. Is it really that dangerous?”

“I’m afraid that their luck may be running out,” Maceo told her. “It’s your choice.”

“But I could at least keep…” she started, but stopped and dropped her head shamefully. “You’re right. If you are here, there’s probably a high priestess still out there too.” Maceo waited and watched her to make sure there were no other second thoughts, and she took a deep breath and braced herself. “Do it,” she told him.

Maceo concentrated and performed a sequence of hand signs carefully and with intent and then several pentagrams appeared out of thin air and began turning like gears in a clock, locking together and closing in on her, focusing specifically on her tattoo until they made contact with her and she winced heavily in pain.

“Last chance,” Maceo warned her.

She shook her head and squeezed her eyes tightly shut. “Do it,” she ordered. He focused and then the gears of this glowing magical machine began turning again with Rhona straining and nearly crying from the pain, though she struggled through it and bared it as best as she could as the room was filled with light. It was clear her pain was growing more and more as she began to sweat and strain, her body shaking as she tried to withstand it until those gears finally locked into place and sank into her skin, disappearing. Then her pain finally subsided and the tattoo began to crack and shatter, then fell away from her skin like broken glass until there was nothing left, but a mostly naked woman.

Rhona finally opened her eyes and turned to look at Maceo, tears forming and sadness enveloping them and then suddenly she began to gradually shrink, her height diminishing little by little as she was forced to look up at him more and more, her arms growing thinner, her skin growing more pale and her breasts receding down at least two cup sizes until she finally settled in a little over five feet tall, thin and almost frail looking compared to the other form she’d just lost. Her feminine curves were significantly reduced and her panties bunched around her hips as they struggled to remain in place now compared to how form fitting they had been moments earlier. The clear complexion of her face gave way to freckles that emerged as though they’d been drowned for years.

She looked absolutely ashamed to be seen like this, especially nearly naked, and again, Maceo felt empathy and went to her, wrapping his arms around her and hugged her. “That was a lot of work to give up on,” he told her. She cried and whimpered and nodded into his chest, tucking herself into his arms.

“I swore I’d never show… this again,” she whimpered.

“Is it the freckles?” he asked her.

“I HATE the freckles! And the tiny tits and the skinny legs and EVERYTHING!”

“The red hair is just as beautiful as ever.”

“I was going to get rid of that next. Everywhere I go people tell me I’m a witch.”

“Rhona,” he told her and waited until she looked up at him from inside his arms. “I love the freckles,” he told her.

“They’re disgusting!”

“They’re actually kinda sexy,” he told her. “I know this is a lot less ideal, but to be honest, I think you would have had more luck trying to seduce me like this. The other form was just too perfect. Something felt off about it. I like this one.”

“You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”

“No, the red hair fits better like this, and it’s really beautiful. You could have absolutely seduced me easily like this if… well..”

“I know. You don’t sleep with women you just met.”

“If there wasn’t another,” Maceo answered her.

“I still don’t see a ring,” she grumbled to him.

“It doesn’t mean that there still isn’t another.”

“What’s she like?”

“Kind. Sweet. Caring. Understanding. I still notice other women, but there is no way I would even consider doing anything behind her back.”

“There’s no way she could know.”

“I would know. And even if I was sure she couldn’t know what I was up to, she can read me like a scroll. I can’t do that to her.”

“The women in town insist you’re a bachelor.”

“I am a bachelor, but you’ll notice that I haven’t entertained any ladies all day since arriving here. What I have is new and it’s complicated. But it’s also not something I want to hurt. It’s also not something I’m ready to advertise yet.”

“And how would she feel about you standing here hugging a naked woman?”

“I’ll have to ask her, and hope she’s forgiving.” She finally hugged him back and stood like that for some time until he finally helped her with her dress, which was now several sizes too large. He put her cloak on her, which now was more like a blanket for her that dragged on the floor and walked her back to her room, leaning down and kissing her on her cheek. She smiled a little, really for the first time since she’d tried to attack him. “You seemed like you needed that.”

“Tomorrow morning. You promised.”

“See you at breakfast,” he told her gently, then saw her inside her room and walked back, checked over his shoulder and went down the stairs and out the front door after borrowing a key. He then walked until he was well into the woods and went to a clearing and looked around. “I don’t know if you wanted to bother coming all the way out here to talk to me,” he said to the still night.

“I did not really see a way around it,” Astravia answered, stepping out from the shadows. She walked up to him and stared down at him.

“I need to know if that was too much. I was trying to do what I thought was right, but it feels like I crossed some boundaries.”

“It was very compassionate of you,” she answered him, then knelt down in front of him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “The only complaint I have was that it was too compassionate. Thank you for how faithful you were.”

“Too compassionate how?”

“I have looked further into the guild’s activities these last centuries and I am very displeased with what I have found.”

“I’d like to think there has to be a path to forgiveness.”

“For your friend, yes,” she told him softly. “I will consider restoring her connection to magic again, but even if I do, there will have to be a great deal of penance. I have not decided yet one way or the other, however.”

“And the guild?”

“I am quite angry,” she told him honestly. “It took a great deal to convince your new friend to leave the path she was on. The only reason I believe she has truly done so is because she shattered her bond with the guild, and the toll it took on her. She’d made a number of changes other than the ones you could see in her body. She was almost more magical spell than girl before tonight.”

“What will you do?”

“What would you have me do?” she asked him.

“I would ask you to follow your heart,” Maceo told her. “If your heart’s angry, then it’s for a good reason. I just want to believe there’s a path to forgiveness, but I’m probably being naïve. You’re right. It took a lot to get through to her and I think I almost didn’t.”

She took a deep breath, looked off at some of the trees in the night air and seemed lost in thought. “I appreciate your council,” she told him. “And no, I do not think it is naïve. I am just afraid it will not be practical.”

“What do I do with Rhona?”

“She is your charge now. Do what you think is best.”

“And her penance?”

“Introduce her to Elaheh. She is the great descendant of my last high priestess and with a little bit of luck, she will open up to her. We will go from there.”

“Are you saying… she’s a believer? In you?” Maceo asked, intrigued by this turn of events.

“There are a few left,” Astravia smiled at him. “Perhaps we can add one more. A new connection would require a new pact, and a type that you do not know how to conduct yet. It would take a great deal of work for you to master it, but in time, if I decide she has earned it, I may allow it. Do not mention this to her yet, however.”

“Of course,” Maceo agreed.

“Now get some sleep, my dearest Maceo,” she told him. “You have done very well today. I do not think you can know the thick fog you had to traverse to find her in it. I was unsure whether a mortal could actually do it. How well you did is actually the reason I am considering your counsel this evening. I am quite angry.”

“I think I’m starting to understand a little of why you could be so harsh in history. There is something off about Rhona. I can’t explain it, but there’s… something she’s dragging behind her. It’s like a chain. Thinking back on it, that other sorcerer I encountered, I think he had it too.”

“That is a good way of describing it,” she praised him. “Now get some rest. When you get home, I am going to celebrate because I am so pleased with everything you’ve done. But no touching that little trollup’s breasts,” she added abruptly.

“All I can think of are yours,” he teased.

“I hope you have incredibly wet dreams,” she told him with a giggle.

“I think that means you’re planning to induce them,” he added with a smirk.

She shooed him off and watched as he disappeared into the woods and then stood there, her hand around her chin and her other arm crossed under that arm. “He should not be able to see that,” she considered in a soft whisper to herself. “How Peculiar.”
Last edited by CKent45 on Tue Jun 21, 2022 2:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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MrWitness
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by MrWitness » Wed Jun 15, 2022 12:19 pm

Shrinking with loss of attributes is one of my favorite themes. Cool!

CKent45
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Thu Jun 16, 2022 3:06 am

The next morning, Maceo was up again quite early and dragging a bit tiredly. He rolled out of bed, groggy and freshened himself up before heading out to the marketplace where he managed to find one merchant who was out early and convinced him to allow him to make a purchase early for an added fee. Maceo then picked a dress that he’d hoped would fit Rhona better than her old clothes and headed back to the tavern where the owner was up and interested in chatting it up with him regarding the festivities the night before.

It was some time later that Rhona entered, her head down and looking quite self-conscious. Maceo caught sight of her and held up a hand and then said good morning to the tavern owner before grabbing a booth in a quiet corner.

Rhona trudged over to meet him, climbing up into her seat and her face souring at all of the strange, yet familiar experiences while also trying to cover her face inconspicuously.

“How are you feeling?” he asked her kindly.

“Short,” she answered him begrudgingly.

“I’d say you’re more petite,” he told her. “I’m telling you, it does look better on you. Much more natural.”

“I’m a midget,” she complained impatiently to him in a half whisper.

“Oh, there are women much shorter than you,” he answered back, though she didn’t seem to be listening.

“So I know it’s early, but…”

“There are no guarantees,” Maceo answered her simply. She instantly perked up and stared at him wide eyed.

“That’s a lot better than last night,” she blurted back at him excitedly.

“It’s also not a yes.”

“Is it at least a maybe?” she pleaded with him.

“It’s a maybe,” Maceo told her, trying to suppress a smile as the little woman bounced in her seat, unable to sit still any longer. “Don’t hitch your hopes too hard to this maybe.”

“What do I need to do?” she asked him.

“It’s what I need to do. I need to study and see if this is something I can eventually bring within my scope of abilities. Right now, it’s not.”

“I’ll help you!” she insisted. “Whatever it takes!”

“If you are serious about this, then there’s something more important for you to do.”

“Name it! I’ll do anything!”

“You’re going to have to atone,” Maceo told her. She sat back again, apparently nervous about what would come next. “There’s something dark tethered to you. I’ve been trying to understand what it is and what it could mean, and I just don’t know. But I think I know enough to get an idea now. You’ve been acting as an assassin for a long time now, haven’t you?”

Her face drained of what color remained and expression. She swallowed hard. “That’s just a guess.”

“I think it’s a bit of an educated one,” Maceo said back. “You’ve been doing worse, though, haven’t you?”

“Like what?” she asked him nervously.

“I don’t know. But this… tether is very long and thick. It’s weighing you down like an anchor. You’ve gained power from it.” Her eyes flitted left and right. Whatever he’d conveyed was new to her, but it made sense. “This is your first step. That tether will not allow me to establish a new connection. You’re going to have to find a way to sever it. So here we are. Be honest with me, or else I don’t think there’s ever any redemption for you.”

She looked at the table with her arms tucked at her sides and fought back tears. “Yes, I’m an assassin,” she explained. “But that’s not really that much of a surprise given I was acting on a hit contract for you.”

“But the rest of it?”

“I normally do courier missions for the guild. They call it nation building.”

“Stop,” Maceo gasped and put his face in his hand. “I think I know what you mean.” She looked up at him, nervous and ashamed, but mostly feeling exposed. “You had better pray that Astravia is forgiving. You had better pray with all your heart.”

“But she’s not…”

“You think that she doesn’t have a connection to all of her favored?”

“How can you even be favored, though? It makes no sense! Not only has she been gone for centuries… you’re… you’re…”

“I’m what?”

“A man! She never favors men! Never!”

“She’s a goddess. You’ve spent your entire life underestimating her.”

“She’s not all powerful. She’s not omniscient. If she were, she wouldn’t have disappeared.”

“Rhona…” Maceo whispered, shaking his head at her. “You’ve seen the charter now. You know how bad this is. Probably the smartest thing you’ve ever done in your life was to cut your bond with the guild, but you only did it as a gamble to personally benefit you. You had better pray she’s forgiving, because even if she doesn’t catch you in this world, you have an eternity in the next.” She sat back, gulping hard at him.

“What do I do?” she asked him in a weak, wavering voice.

“For now… you’ll start off as my apprentice,” Maceo told her. “I’ll sort the rest out when we finish the conference.”

“Doing what? I already can’t do magic.”

“Well, you’ll be my assistant. I could use a hand anyways. And if I’m right, I think I may know of a friend here that can help you. I’d start working on your attitude, though.”

Far off in distant skies, Astravia was soaring in her hawk form as she approached a large bay on an opposing side of the nearby sea. There was a large harbor there with a palace uphill from it and a large barracks next to it. She circled high above it, out of sight from any mortal and then set her sights on an area of rocky hills to the east. As she descended, there were ruins, the remnants of a lost settlement, though one structure still stood. It was worn and battered, but still upright.

She drifted down and then dove directly at the roof, passing directly through it as though it weren’t even there.

Down below, through hundreds of feet of dirt and rock was a well-furnished cavern where a hexagonal table stood on a wide platform and six elderly men and women dressed in robes sat and discussed amongst themselves. Further away in every direction, there were a number of other men and women, mostly men, who were working on various magical endeavors.

“What if he is favored?” one man asked. “We have to answer that question if for no other reason than we’ve had seven couriers who’ve refused the contract. We can’t keep throwing them away at this rate.”

“If he is favored, then all the more reason to eliminate him as quickly as possible,” another man answered coldly.

“I don’t know how he got that status, but as a favored, there’s a possibility he could make his way into the temple’s catacombs. He has to be killed,” one of the women added.

“What if it signals her to come back?”

“I’m more concerned with the fact that I’m sure he’s more powerful then he’s letting on,” another woman told the group.

“He was an idiot for painting such a blatant sign on his back,” the first man added. “But still, we need to come up with something better than threats to deal with those that are too afraid to deal with a favored.”

“He can’t be favored,” the second woman interjected. “It’s not possible. Let’s just get involved personally and be done with it.”

“It’ll take weeks to travel there,” the first man complained. “If he’s recently begun operating near the temple, that’s the only sign we need. We don’t have weeks, we need him gone now. Rhona should at least have some information for us by now.”

“She hasn’t reported in since she made contact yesterday,” another man grumbled.

“What’s taking her so long?”

“The timing of this couldn’t be worse,” another complained. “We should be focusing on our Prostalgia plans,” he said as the others’ eyes went wide as behind him the figure of a giant woman began to stand up from a curled up and crouched position in the center of the cavern in a beautiful white gown.

All in the cavern froze in fear and looked up as Astravia stood fully upright and surveyed the surroundings. “How did you get in here?” the first man bellowed and pointed up at the giantess.

She raised an eyebrow at him and looked down at them. “Do you know who I am?” she asked them.

“We know who you’re pretending to be,” one of the elderly women said, standing up and her hands igniting with flame. Astravia’s eyebrow rose higher. She was a bit taken aback by their impertinence, but she was definitely not amused. Her eyes turned black and her pupils ignited like stars and a golden aura developed around her.

“Then enlighten me, little mortal. Who am I pretending to be,” she told her in a mocking tone.

“You want us to believe you’re Astravia,” one of the men yelled. “But you came to the wrong place thinking that illusions would impress us!”

“I did not want to believe that your hubris had grown so warped and twisted,” she lamented sadly, looking around the cavern as though she hadn’t a care in the world as sorcerers and sorceresses began activating magical abilities all around her menacingly. “It is like a cancer, metastasizing and consuming the body whole. I do not even recognize this organization anymore and it has only been a few short centuries,” she told them, shaking her head.

She then winced as a powerful lightning bolt struck her left cheek. She was taken aback and looked down at a young and talented sorceress who lobbed bolt after bolt at Astravia, striking her as she put her arms up reflexively as the attacks grew faster and more powerful with each strike.

“I’m going to cut you down to size, you self righteous, fat assed cow!” she screamed.

Astravia dropped her arms and stared at her in utter disbelief. “What did you just call me?” she asked her.

“Ignorant! Oversized! BOVINE!” she screamed, not seaming to realize that she was hitting Astravia with gigawatts of lightning over and over again, but she wasn’t even flinching any longer.

Astravia’s face turned full of rage, her jaw clenched and the entire cavern began to quake. The elderly six all looked at each other in panic and then Astravia stomped up to the rude little wench and scooped her up into the air with a single hand.

“Again with the obsession with size,” Astravia declared as the woman screamed with rage and poured herself into her magic now with one long, continuous and powerful blast of lightning, determined to take the goddess down. “I do not know what the obsession of the women of this world is with size, but I am beginning to have a mind to erase it,” she declared with intense irritation.

She then picked the woman out of her hand by the scruff of her neck and set her feet firmly on her left palm. Once she was standing there, she lifted her other hand above her and the sorceress reached up with her hands above her head and pushed back Astravia’s other palm as it came down on her with all of her strength.

Amazingly, the mortal woman proved to be more than strong enough to hold back Astravia’s attempt to crush her between her hands and the six elderly men and women smirked at Astravia’s lack of power until they were all struck with gasps of horror when it became evident that the sorceress hadn’t held back Astravia at all.

As Astravia squeezed down on the mortal woman, she began to grow gradually smaller with Astravia intentionally taking her time in order to demonstrate her power to the arrogant mortals. Her robes became larger and heavier on her dwindling frame, her shoes looser as her feet began slipping within them and her jewelry began falling loose around her arms and hands.

Everyone in the room now attacked at once, with each of their attacks hitting as though it were a piece of foam tossed by an infant at her parent as the sorceress approached half her normal size. They closed in and attacked harder and harder and Astravia became impatient and pressed more firmly, shrinking her further and faster down to two feet, one foot, and finally stopping at around seven inches tall as she was squeezed down into clothing far too large to be of any use whatsoever any longer.

They all stopped and Astravia pulled the hem of the seemingly empty dress up and shook until a tiny, shrunken woman tumbled out of the collar of the empty dress along with a number of rings, bracelets and other jewelry into the palm of her hand. The crowd stood stunned and Astravia turned to the elderly six and tossed the seven inch tall woman casually at the man closest to her, who barely managed to catch her, fumbling desperately as she screamed horrifically tiny screams and then suddenly voided all of the fluids from her bladder all over his hands.

“The pigheadedness of it all,” she declared, then swatted the nearest man to her with her hand and as he tumbled through the air, he shifted into a snorting, grunting pig and came rolling to a stop at the foot of one of his compatriots. “I cannot believe the lengths I must go to in order to convince you mortals who I am only to still not believe me.”

“We know who you are, Astravia,” the first man finally stated boldly.

“Oh do you?” she asked him rather condescendingly. “Are we finally coming to our senses now?”

“If you are Astravia, then why did you disappear? Why would you come back to this world and keep it a secret?” one elderly woman challenged.

“FOR MY OWN REASONS!” she screamed back terrifyingly as the cavern shook and quaked violently. “Who are you to question a goddess?” she demanded to know as she stomped forward and pressed down on the elderly woman’s head, causing her to shrink down rapidly in size as she screamed in an ever increasing pitch until she was matching the other shrunken sorceress and then tossed her into the hands of the same man as before. “Perhaps this will allow you to see things from the appropriate perspective!” she declared angrily at the two shrunken women that each fit comfortably with room to spare in the man’s hands.

The room stared in shock as the cavern grew numbingly silent. “MORTALS! Pushing me to this level of anger?” she lectured. “Unheard of! The audacity! The unmitigated gall! THE HUBRIS!”

The cavern lay so silent that the drip of water from a stalactite echoed around them. Astravia stood upright again and adjusted her posture to one much more dignified again and adjusted her gown.

“I have been asked by one I favor to offer forgiveness and a path of redemption,” she announced to the crowd coldly and with immense spite. “Against my better judgment, it is offered. Now explain yourselves.”

The cavern remained silent, most looking to each other to see who would be the first to speak. “Nothing? You have nothing to say for yourselves?” she demanded.

“To say for ourselves for what?” the first man asked. He was now somewhat cordial, but there was a hint of defiance still in his voice.

“Let us start with my favored, shall we?” she asked him, growing quite irritated again. “Who are YOU to create an order to kill my favored? For that matter, who are you to create an order to kill anyone?”

“How were we supposed to know he was really your favored?” the man asked back.

“Oh really? You seemed quite convinced of it a moment ago,” she declared, glaring down at him.

She snapped her fingers and the same elderly woman repeated from before, “I don’t know how he got that status, but as a favored, there’s a possibility he could make his way into the temple’s catacombs. He has to be killed.” She then clamped her mouth shut with her hands and stared at her colleagues fearfully.

The room fell silent again and she looked around, growing more and more impatient. “Shall I spell it out for you then?” she asked with a menacing tone. “I shall start at the beginning. You did not even wait two generations for me to be elsewhere before you began. I’ve reviewed your history for the last five centuries. ALL of it. The arrogance to force me to personally investigate something so quotidian and uninteresting! You think yourselves clever? You think yourselves witty? Do you honestly think this is the first time I have experienced such rancid impropriety? Your forbearers infiltrated the largest of the other magical societies of this world and spent forty years disassembling them from the inside before they ruthlessly assassinated the few stragglers that remained. They gutted them like diseased livestock and dumped them into a ditch in the middle of the night. When I first arrived here, I assumed that it was a natural occurrence, one group growing above while the others decline and falter, eventually paving the way for the original to have a monopoly, but instead as I looked closer, I discovered it was deliberate. Intentional!”

She looked around the room, ensuring all eyes were on her. “And the worst part?” she hissed, the cavern shaking again. “You sent your spies and saboteurs into my temple and infiltrated my clergy! The shift of government to secularism was not happenstance, it was orchestrated! By the guild of sorcery! And when that government could not sustain itself, you propped it up! You continually trained operatives for centuries to work in the shadows, orchestrating, infiltrating and demoralizing until my priestesses had no choice but to add men to their ranks, orchestrate a coup, and shut out all those not of faith. The temple was to be a gift to all of your world, but you diligently undermined my priestesses for centuries from the shadows, never relenting until they were forced to close the gates to all outsiders, but even then! Even then that was not enough for you! You continued to infiltrate my clergy with practitioners who actively spewed lies and slander about me! You may not have been able to get your filthy fingers back inside the temple again, but you certainly out did yourselves cutting off the flow of new blood to my worshippers, didn’t you? On this went, until only one remained and then, how fortuitous! No one is left with dominion over the charters!”

“And then you became even more bold! You had already branched your tendrils out to governments and kingdoms and slowly overthrown those in favor of nations. You have infiltrated financial institutions and you have even gone so far as to use your magic to rip the souls from men and women, kings and queens, turning them into your automatons, created solely to carry out your will and nothing more. And you hide and scurry about, never showing your faces while stoking fears in towns and villages of sorcery, creating carefully orchestrated plays that sow the seeds of distrust and animosity so that at first glance, it actually looks as though it is you who are the victims. And finally, to today. Where my favored has, in fact, managed to thwart your assassin and? He asks for your forgiveness, and a path to redemption.”

She looked around once more, considering them and resting assuredly in her position. “So there you stand. Revealed and caught. I ask you again: what do you have to say for yourselves?”

The elderly members of their council all looked at each other, as did every other sorcerer and sorceress in the cavern, “I am waiting,” she told them calmly.

“I won’t make you wait any longer,” that first man told her, stepping forward.

Abruptly, a powerful blast of lightning and fire pounded Astravia, knocking her off her feet and into the stone wall across the cavern. Then several other magical blasts erupted from each of the entrances to the cavern, pounding Astravia mercilessly.

“I SAY THAT YOU MAY BE A GODDESS, BUT YOUR POWER HAS LIMITS! YOU ARE NOT ALL SEEING! YOU ARE NOT ALL KNOWING BECAUSE IF YOU WERE THEN WE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO ALL OF THIS RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE SO QUICKLY!”

They all attacked again in unison, pounding her with all their might. “DID YOU THINK WE’D BE CONTENT WITH THIS WORLD? WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU TO WALTZ BACK IN LIKE THE SELF CENTERED, SPOILED BITCH YOU ARE SO WE CAN GET ACCESS TO YOUR PORTALS!” he screamed.

The room howled with fury as they continually roared and poured all of their power into beating Astravia senseless until there was a strange sound that began emanating from the edges of the room.

There, at each of the entrances stood a large, magically powered device, canons that condensed magical energy and discharged it in lethal form, each manned by two sorcerers. What was odd was that they’re battle cries suddenly morphed to howls that sounded more like dogs calling to each other. A few of the sorcerers turned to look and their eyes widened with shock as indeed, each of these sorcerers manning those canons had been transforming into dogs. Mangy mongrels, actually. Surrounding the canons, that were now going silent without a suitable operator, were sorcerers armed with handheld versions of the canons, who now began dwindling down into mice.

The leader of the guild of sorcery looked around in shock as his weapons, which they’d spent centuries building and preparing, fell silent or fell to the ground and those using only their own power from their own hands stopped and looked in confusion as their greatest weapons were nullified without their even realizing.

Astravia then calmly stepped out of the hole she’d been punched through and brushed her sleeves and her gown off, but generally looking completely unfazed by the brutal attack she’d just been subjected to.

“But… how?” the man asked as Astravia casually strolled by him, not even bothering to look at him.

Each of the canons and handheld variants now began exploding in rapid succession as Astravia walked calmly to the center of the room. “You lack perspective,” she informed them, not bothering any longer to even look at a single one. “You think that lack of omnipotence or omniscience is synonymous with ‘limited.’ You should be more careful in using such terms. It conveys the wrong impression,” she said.

Her star on night black eyes intensified again and a number of symbols appeared from thin air and attached themselves to the foreheads of each of the sorcerers and sorceresses in the cavern, but as they did, Astravia created live images on the walls of the cavern, showing each and every last member of the guild, wherever they were in the world and showing what they were doing. Near the leader of the guild was an image of a sorcerer whispering into the vacant ears of a king.

“Your charter is revoked,” she said casually. “I encourage you to go on about your business.”

She now simply stood there in the center of the cavern with her hands folded neatly in front of her and waited while the others in the room looked around each other in confusion.

“You can’t just revoke our charter!” the man screamed up at her. “It’s locked away in the catacombs of your temple! Far from here! Do you think we’re going to just let you go back there and cancel it?” he demanded.

She continued to stand, no longer even bothering to acknowledge him, let alone argue. He continued yelling at her, his face becoming more anguished and filled with stress, the lines growing deeper as he issued threats and demands to her. By the time five minutes had passed, he stomped up to her, still threatening her until he heard a strange crack and looked down to see he’d stepped on a mouse, one of his soldiers that she’d transformed, though something seemed off about it. He looked around at the floor and realized there were dead mice everywhere, each of them withered and sickly looking, their muscles frail and their fur scruffy and tattered as though they’d died of old age.

He turned and looked at the soldiers turned dog, and similarly, many of them were now looking worn down and rough, their muzzles white. Finally, he looked around the room, panicked and frightened when it struck him that none of the young members of their ranks were present any longer.

No, actually, that wasn’t true. They were still there, he recognized them, it was just that instead of being fair skinned teenagers, they were now mature adults.

“No…” he gasped. “Please no!” he begged of Astravia, who continued to stare ahead, still not even bothering to acknowledge him.

It took another couple of minutes for the others of the inner circle to reach the same conclusion he had and they began pleading with Astravia, begging for mercy, now not relenting in their penitent wishes as their voices began to wither as the minutes passed and the lines and creases in their faces quickly deepened and spread further, their muscles and bones growing frail as their sorcerers and soldiers began showing touches of gray in their beards and hair.

Within thirty minutes, the youngest of them was well into middle age as they all flocked to her, dropping to their knees and begging for forgiveness, but still she stood silent. The persons on the live images, thousands of them, were all looking at their hands, touching their faces, utterly confounded by what was happening and the feelings and sensations it brought.

An hour passed and only the youngest of the sorcerers still lived, save the six of the inner circle, who were now so withered and worn that they couldn’t even speak or move any longer. Those of the youngest now looked much the same age as those of the inner circle had when Astravia first entered the room.

By the time an hour and a half passed the last of the teenagers died of extreme old age, a woman who looked to be at least one hundred and ten. Only the six of the inner circle were left breathing, their bodies looking more like corpses than human beings. The naked, withered, wasted body of a seven-inch tall, one hundred and sixty year old woman lay across the bony fingers of a similarly aged man with the corpse of another elderly shrunken woman clinging tightly to her as though begging for help. Their eyes remained conspicuously clear, however.

“I sustained you through this so that you would see the end of your guild. You would watch it wither and waste away,” Astravia explained. Around her on the walls were images of the thousands of guild members who were all dead of old age, when moments before they were making kings, determining policy and weaving webs of deceit. “One more moment, for you to enjoy the fruits of your labors,” she declared calmly. One of the inner circle members hissed a horse breath, one final attempt to beg for mercy.

Then the eyes of all six faded and their breathing stalled without so much as a gasp to end it all.

“You would have liked to have seen how badly you got to me, wouldn’t you?” she asked the dead cavern filled with corpses in a passionless voice. “Something to take with you to the next world. A story of how enraged you made the queen of all gods. A last bragging right of how you stoked my ire to a level before unseen. Sadly, this too is something I have seen more times than I care to count.”

She transformed and flew upward, directly through the stone above and a moment later emerged above the ruins where the guild of sorcery had once hidden their headquarters and she banked to her right and flew home toward her temple.
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by chocolatejr9 » Thu Jun 16, 2022 8:53 pm

Well, at least she replaced the souls she took from Urisinus (I think).

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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Fri Jun 17, 2022 1:42 am

chocolatejr9 wrote:
Thu Jun 16, 2022 8:53 pm
Well, at least she replaced the souls she took from Urisinus (I think).
Haha, that wasn't quite the way it was supposed to work.

Urisinus oversees and is the god of the realm of the dead. All dead go through him and are subject to him once they enter this realm, which includes those who are both condemned and those who are rewarded for living favorable lives. The people that Astravia visited in his realm weren't removed from his dominion, just moved to another part of it.

Those followers of hers arrived as condemned because they broke specific rules that were laid out for followers of Astravia that they were expected to follow. The fact that there was a greater purpose behind their actions didn't really come in to play at all- they broke the rules and they altered her religion against her wishes, so they were condemned. Urisinus, lording over the entirety of the realm of the dead, processes everyone who enters based strictly on the laws and expectations of the followers from the gods they worship. It's literally an on or an off switch. Condemned, or rewarded. Of course there are levels of condemned and rewarded, and Astravia asked those men and women be moved to the place in the afterlife where they could be rewarded the most.

This was what Urisinus meant when he commented on few of the gods reviewing their rolls lately. They'd gotten caught up in their own affairs enough that they weren't paying attention to those who worshipped them that died. Because Urisinus judges in such black and white terms, the other gods can appeal his judgments and alter the fates of mortals if they feel it's necessary. This means they can either ask for greater punishment or better rewards and if it's a follower of a god, that god has a right to move that person.

I can assure you that all of the prior members of the guild were punished heavily when they entered the afterlife, but these ones that were marked by Astravia will be condemned intensely compared to most.

Either way, though, Urisinus gets to keep all of the people who enter the afterlife. But, as you can imagine, those who are condemned require a lot more administration than those who are rewarded. Thus why his throne overlooks the most wicked of the residents there and the macabre setting he lives in.
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Fri Jun 17, 2022 3:36 am

When Astravia arrived back in her study, she found Maceo conducting the meeting where they were now mapping out the mountain and trying to place the locations of incidents and attacks. This work was going quite well with Maceo continuing to take feedback and ask for as many details as possible related to losses. Off in the background, a suddenly much more bashful Rhona was standing by in her new, much better fitting dress waiting for directions from Maceo or fetching things he requested.

She smiled at the scene, enjoying how Maceo commanded the entire room, once again surging with an impressive aura as his experience continued to pile on. The entire session that day was about information gathering and sharing, communicating amongst each other who they’d seen, when and picking out the similarities, which Maceo would have Rhona scribble down for them.

“One of the benefits to primitive cultures,” Astravia noted with a smile. “The time it takes to travel makes these longer meetings more practical.”

The town elders were quite surprised to see how animated their guests were by now as well as the glut of information they’d gathered, but most importantly the information that Maceo was extrapolating from it.

Each confirmed incident was compared with the others with sticks connecting the dots on their map. When this started showing patterns, sticks were bound together into triangles until more clear patterns emerged.

Before dinner, Maceo called the meeting to order again and stood over the map that was covering an entire table. “It looks like they’re amassing camps, here, here, and here,” Maceo told them.

“Why?” one man asked him,

“For whatever they can get from it,” Maceo answered simply. “Right now, my guess is because those have been safe spots to avoid any settlers hoping to enact some justice. What they develop into from there depends. They might move because their most profitable targets shift. They might morph into a kind of town of their own, whose chief trade is your wealth. The worst-case scenario, I think though, is figures start emerging who can organize groups. Given enough time, those groups could form mercenary bands, or even an army.

He then stood back and allowed them all to murmur amongst themselves and Rhona approached him. “You’re obviously leading them. Why not just tell them what you want?”

“Because there’s no trust yet, for one,” Maceo answered her. “If they can’t trust me yet, there’s no point in issuing orders. And before they can trust me, they need to trust each other.”

“You can’t teach people to trust each other,” she scolded him. “It’s much easier to take the information you gathered and use it to leverage their weak points so that they’ll fall in line with your strategy.”

“It’s not my strategy. I don’t have any interest in running this operation, I’m just doing this as a favor.”

“But they’re chaotic and despotic. You’ve got enough on all of them to bind them together and do anything you need them to. The whole mountain is just a few steps away from being turned into its own kingdom.”

“And who’s going to lead it?” Maceo asked her, stunning her. “I’m not interested in playing king maker.”

“Just watching you the last couple days, you could easily be that king. This town is obviously the most wealthy and established of all those in the area and they look to you for advice and consulting and everything they can think of. You could be a king in a fortnight.”

“I’m even less interested in being a king.”

“But think of what you could do with all that power,” she whispered to him.

“Nothing, that’s what I could do with it. In the end, power brings you nothing. Yes, you can get wealth and things, people will follow you, but in the end, you still die alone in your bed, or in an accident just like everyone else. The point of power isn’t to use it. The point is to protect it from misuse.”

“This again,” Astravia whispered to herself. “Only he seems even more sure of it. Perhaps I should discuss this with him and ask him to refrain from such notions until I have had more time to consider it.”

“But if you don’t take control, it’s all going to just fall apart,” she insisted fervently.

“Rhona,” Maceo stopped her gently but firmly. “This is what you’ve been up to your whole time with the guild and look what it’s gotten you.” Astravia lifted her eyebrow at him following this statement but said nothing to her globe in response.

“But it works,” she insisted. “And your intentions are good, so you know it will work.”

“I just don’t see how your way is anything but a never ending circle,” Maceo told her. “How many times were you sent to the same place because the inner circle needed you to keep making adjustments?”

“But… I never told you about that…”

“You just did,” Maceo told her, causing her to scowl. “But that’s how flawed this whole method you did is. It’s painfully obvious that you get into a never ending cycle where you just have to keep trying to control more and more and more. I can only imagine what someone who was a master in magic could do with that mentality.” She opened her mouth to speak again, but Maceo put his hand up to stop her. “No, we’re done,” he told her. “Look at the group. They’re ready to move on and we’re just sitting here arguing, which isn’t helping me project confidence. You’re arguing because you just don’t want to let go of your old ideas and you’re not actually listening to mine. Think about these things,” he insisted.

She looked down at her feet and pondered, then looked up at him again, noticing that the room was starting to become quiet and watching them discuss in secret. “I’ll take care of it,” she announced loud enough that those nearest to her could hear. “I’m sorry I had such a hard time understanding.”

“You’re doing fine. Thanks Rhona,” Maceo told her back and reconvened the meeting again.

“Hmmm,” Astravia said with an interested nod and leaned forward again, watching Maceo as he moved to the next stage of his plan.

“I’d like to open the floor,” Maceo announced. “I’d like feedback on if anyone feels like we’ve accomplished anything and what you think we’ve accomplished.”

“I have a question,” one man said, raising his hand. Maceo nodded and he went on. “We came here expecting to be talking about forming a militia. We haven’t discussed anything about what that would require,” he pointed out. “Are you giving up on the idea?” he asked Maceo.

“No. First, most in this summit didn’t come because they wanted to join a militia, they just agreed to come to hear us out. If I remember right, you were one of those.”

“We don’t exactly have a lot to offer,” he admitted.

“I’m holding off on the militia discussions on purpose,” Maceo told him flatly. “You came here expecting me to try to sell you something, something that you’d have to pay a healthy price for, but you’re right. It’s a strange idea, why should you believe that you’ll get anything from this? So no, we’re not discussing a militia yet. My goal for this summit, and it’s always been my goal, is that every single person sitting here goes home better off than they were when they arrived. That every single person here goes back to their settlement and the security of their community is better regardless of what is agreed on here. It’s in this town’s interest that every one of you is safer, so we have focused on learning because it was my hope that that would give something valuable for everyone here.”

Every single person in attendance stared at Maceo, not quite sure how to respond to his comments. A few turned and looked to each other, and then the man who’d spoken up spoke again. “I want to be a part of this militia,” he decided. “I need to know how much you need from us.”

Rhona had reentered in the middle of this discussion and was watching, stunned at the sudden turn of events.

“We’d love your support,” Maceo told him happily. “Can you hold out long enough for others to see if they might be interested?”

“I’m ready now,” he said.

“Let’s talk off line when we break for dinner with the town elders,” Maceo suggested. “In the meantime, I’d rather not derail the others who probably aren’t on board. So, anyone else, please, have we accomplished anything here so far and what is it we’ve accomplished?”

Suddenly there was a great deal of murmuring among the attendees, including the elders while Rhona returned to Maceo with a pitcher of drink and whispered in his ear. “What just happened here? How did you do that?”

“We’ll discuss it later,” he told her. Astravia also sat upright, her interest piqued.

As it turned out, the attendees were suddenly quite excited about everything they’d accomplished so far in the summit, talking incessantly about it and sometimes talking over each other as they went. A couple hours went by and Maceo asked another question.

“Does anyone have any ideas of what else we can accomplish that would benefit everyone here?”

“A joint militia,” one man yelled to numerous supportive murmurs.

“Other than a militia,” Maceo told them. “I want to be absolutely sure every last person here can go home with as much as possible,” Maceo told them all.

Astravia snickered at him and watched with amusement at his unorthodox strategy while Rhona stood gob smacked. She leaned in to whisper to him again, but he raised a hand and waved her off.

At this point the attendees were becoming not just boisterous but almost raucous, fighting over each other to talk while Maceo kept them focused on new strategies that didn’t involve forming a militia. When they finally broke for dinner, all of the town elders approached him as a group and surrounded him.

“What are you doing?” they confronted. “Can’t you tell we have the support we need already? Why would you shut them down?” he was asked.

“You wanted me to conduct talks, and I’m doing it,” he answered back confidently. “I planned out every stage of this summit and I’d rather you not derail those plans,” he told them. He then took Rhona by the arm and walked her off to get some food from a vendor before slipping away to a quiet place to eat away from everyone else.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Rhona asked him. “They’re literally begging you to join your militia by this point and you won’t even discuss it!”

“Have you noticed that you’re the only person around here that swears?” he pointed out to her, shaking her suddenly.

“Maceo, the entire point was to convince everyone to get together to build a militia and now you won’t let them even talk about it!”

“The point was to get the bandits running wild around the mountain under control. The militia is just an idea to try to accomplish that,” Maceo informed her.

“But can’t you tell? You’ve sold them on it! They want it!”

“I didn’t sell them anything,” Maceo told her. “Selling them wouldn’t have done squat to make this work. I offered what I thought I could that they’d all benefit from. They’re still not ready yet to discuss forming a militia. Not quite. What you’ll notice is that towns and villages that never wanted anything to do with each other are now meeting and talking. They’re beginning to trust each other. They’re beginning to understand each other. Pretty soon, leaders are going to emerge among them and that’s what we really need. But selling them on a militia is just going to put their hackles up. Every last one of them is going to struggle to pay the price to make this work and if I act like every other scheming salesman pawning his junk on passersby, they’re going to know it. They’re going to see it and they’re going to resent me for it. I believe a militia is the best way to deal with this threat, but I am not going to trick them into believing it,” he told her.

She furrowed her brow and looked at her lap, considering his philosophy carefully. Interestingly, there was a trio of attendees who’d sneaked up on them and were listening in and staring at each other, and then they slowly sneaked away and made a hasty return to others in the conference.

“This isn’t how the guild does things,” she concluded.

“I have a bad feeling about how the guild does things,” Maceo answered. “It’s just a gut feeling, but something is telling me they’ve damaged quite a lot in this region.”

“You are right about that,” Astravia confirmed from her study, watching him still and carefully considering his unique approach.

When they concluded dinner, Maceo returned to the center of the summit, but before he could pick up where they’d left off, one man stood out in the middle of the crowd.

“We’ve heard enough. We want to be a part of this militia,” he declared. Then there was a soft roar of agreement from the crowd. “Either discuss it, or we’ll replace you with someone who will,” he demanded.

“Seconded!” another man yelled and the crowd suddenly began shouting “AYE!” Maceo held his hands up and nodded, encouraging them to calm down, once he had, he noticed that three different men had all risen to confront him and each were from completely separate settlements.

“We’ll discuss the formation of a militia first thing in the morning,” Maceo conceded, but the crowd roared in disapproval, needing to be pulled back not just by Maceo but a number of the locals as well.

“Here me out!” he yelled above the crowd. Reluctantly, they quieted and listened.

“We should discuss this with fresh minds, eyes and ears,” Maceo insisted. The crowd seemed to be interested, but not yet convinced. “There are things to discuss in terms of a militia. Such as who will lead it?”

“You!” one man yelled and the crowd erupted again, but Maceo shook his head.

“I’m not going to lead a militia,” Maceo answered him. “But I’ve studied things that I think will help immensely with building one. We need to discuss overall strategies. Things such as where outposts will be set up and by whom. We don’t just need a militia leader, we need squad leaders and platoon leaders. We need to understand tactics. These bandits have made this mountain a killing field because it’s all they do and they’re good at it. To beat them, we need to be smarter. We need to forge ourselves and our resolve to stand against them and route them like the swine they are,” he told them to a massive roar of approval.

“I’ve already discussed with the elders here. I’ve had my wares out for all to see and touch. Is there any man here who thinks this equipment is substandard?” He looked around the crowd, but no one said a word. “I’ll take that as a no. I’ve already struck a deal with this town to produce shields, swords, pikes, halberds, armor, arrow heads and… crossbows,” he told them and suddenly eyes went wide. “I’ll provide them at a reduced price and I’m working to assemble the help I need to get them delivered in a timely fashion. But I will only provide them at a reduced price to establish a working militia. To ESTABLISH it. After that, my prices go back up again. This town has agreed to shoulder that cost and distribute the equipment on the condition that it is understood that this equipment belongs here, to these people. I will also help provide training on things I’ve been trained on myself. These include strategy, tactics, organizational preparations, logistics, control of supplies, swordsmanship, archery.”

The crowd was hooked on his every word now, staring with awe and listening carefully, only a few murmuring excitedly to each other only to be shushed emphatically by others around them.

“What I need is for each and every one of you tonight to go back to wherever you are staying and do an honest assessment of what each settlement has to offer. Be honest about what you can contribute and what will hurt too much. The only way this will work is with complete honesty. If anyone holds out, it could hurt us all, and it will certainly breed distrust among us. Tell me what you are able to provide in terms of supplies and men and understand, this is a militia. No one is expected to do this as a full time career. We each help pull the load and that will make this bearable for us all. We understand that some settlements are smaller and poorer. All we want is to try to establish a working relationship that is fair and beneficial to us all. That is why this town has agreed to bear the cost of initially equipping the militia on its own.”

The crowd was stunned, and began looking around at each other. “Does this meet your approval?” he asked them and they all roared in agreement. Once again, Maceo was waving for them to calm and quiet themselves.

“We’re going to train a militia, we’re going to organize and we are going to systematically eradicate this scourge from our homes,” he told them, again to raucous agreement.

He turned to Rhona who was staring at him in disbelief. “What the fuck?” she gasped at him.

“Again, you’re the only one here who swears,” he pointed out with a smirk, giving her a much needed laugh as well. Maceo gave them their moment and then calmed them once more. “We’ll attack this with fresh minds first thing in the morning. For now, let’s pick up where we left off,” he told them and the crowd again fell into line.

The rest of the evening went off without a hitch with everyone cooperating, mostly because a massive portion of the weight for this endeavor had been lifted from their shoulders. Following their evening session, Maceo tracked down each of the three men who’d confronted him and sought further feedback and discussed their thoughts personally with them, making sure they were certain that they’d been heard and listened to and Rhona took notes for Maceo to be certain that he had it in writing on what else he could provide.

Once they’d finally finished, Maceo was able to sit on the outside of the crowd that had turned out for the second night show by the local musicians, with Maceo enjoying the opportunity to be a spectator of his students for the very first time. Rhona sat with him, continually looking over to him, apparently fascinated.

“I think this might actually work,” she remarked.

Maceo only smiled. “Hope so.” The crowd in front of them began to slowly quiet in anticipation of the show and she leaned forward until he turned and looked at her again.

“I’m actually relieved you didn’t let me seduce you,” she told him with a smirk.

“There’s a damning indictment of the skills you believe I have if I’ve ever heard one,” he teased her back, causing her to laugh and shove his shoulder.

“That’s not what I meant.”

“We shouldn’t talk about that here,” he warned her and then leaned back to enjoy the show.

Once the show was over, Maceo checked in with the magicians, complimenting them and offering critiques once asked. Rhona stood behind him and listened as he interacted with his students, including Gaeten who was quite interested in the proceedings of the summit and Maceo helped clean up.

“Who’s this?” Cajsa asked him rather leadingly, pointing to his assistant.

“This is Rhona. She offered to help me with the summit, which I’m pretty grateful for because I certainly needed it,” he answered, introducing her as she was quite quickly welcomed into the group, and apparently to Rhona, quite shockingly.

As Maceo and her walked back to the inn, Rhona finally decided to speak once Maceo asked her about her thoughts on the locals. “I’m not used to people not being terrified of me,” she answered. “Once people discover I’m a sorceress, they tend to instantly freeze up.”

“So how does it feel to hang around people who like you?”

“I’m not sure they really like me,” she answered.

“They like you enough. The rest comes with time and with whatever work you put into it. So don’t tell me you didn’t have friends working in the guild.”

“We always worked solo. They didn’t want too many of us concentrated in one place for safety reasons. Any more thoughts about restoring my magic?”

“I’ve been too busy with other things today and I have a couple more things I need to research tonight. I’ll need time to study and train on it before I can even think of attempting it. It’s very advanced.”

“How long do you think? Weeks? Months?”

“Hopefully not more than months,” Maceo answered her. “I may find out it’s a dead end before I get to that point though.”

“When you say I need to atone… what did you mean?”

“You’ve committed a lot of sins. You’ve hurt a lot of people. It might help if you learned real remorse over what you’ve done.”

“You haven’t even asked specifically what I have done.”

“It’s the mirror opposite of what I’ve been doing in this summit,” Maceo answered her plainly. “Am I right?”

She lowered her head and nodded. “We’ll talk more about it later,” Maceo assured her. “I’ll make time for it.”

“I feel so helpless,” she shared. “I’ve been using magic since I was a little girl and now… I just look like a little girl.”

“You look mature enough,” Maceo answered her with a smile. “You’ve turned a few heads today.”

“Where did you learn to negotiate like that?” she asked him.

“A very generous patron,” he answered her.

“And who is this patron? You never talk about him.”

“My patron prefers to conduct business privately. Wealth like that tends to get in the way of deals and creates a target.”

“So not so different from the guild.”

“The difference is night and day. Privacy is different than secrecy. Besides, I’m certain my patron eventually wants to go public. Just not yet.”

“Hmm.” They continued to her room and he saw her to the door. She stepped inside and turned around and looked at him, blushing a little. “What I meant earlier… about seducing…”

“I know what you meant,” he smiled.

She nodded and shuffled her feet. “I actually get the feeling that you’d be really good in bed. I think that if I had actually seduced you… you might have ended up turning the tables on me in the end.”

“Well, it’s a good thing that you never actually had any intent to sleep with me, then,” he said with a playful smirk. “See you in the morning,” he told her and then closed her door gently for her.

Once he was alone in his room, he sat on his bed for a long moment staring up at the ceiling, smiling. “I’m going to take a walk,” he said to the room. “I’ll head out to the forest west of here, maybe twenty minutes or so. If you’re watching, and it’s not too much of a bother, I’ll wait there for a few minutes before heading back. It’s definitely nothing urgent, so if you’re busy, I hope you have a wonderful evening.”

He then left the inn again and took a walk just as he said and just as he arrived at the agreed upon location, Astravia stepped out from the shadows and smiled at him. “Are you getting needy?” she asked him.

“If I am, I’m relying on you to tell me,” he answered her. She grinned at his response and stepped closer.

“What is on your mind, my dearest Maceo?”

“Tough day,” he answered her briefly.

“It seemed to me you were brilliant all day and handled it with skill I have always hoped you would show.”

“My day was wonderful. Everything worked out better than I’d hoped,” he answered her with a warm smile and nothing more. Her smile faded a little as she weighed the meaning behind his statement.

“What was your question?” she asked him in a soft, gentle voice.

“Is there any chance you’d be willing to go flying with me? Just for a bit?” he asked her. Her grin spread again and she laughed despite herself.

“I thought you would never ask,” she answered, then ran up to him, picked him up and jumped into the air, transforming into her hawk form and quickly flew him back to the temple and his aero plane with time around them frozen to allow them to travel back in an instant.

She watched him as he checked the craft over and entered, prepping everything for take off and then pulled the canopy shut. “See you up there,” he told her with a wink. She grinned at him and watched him roll off faster and faster until he was able to lift off, quickly climbing and not bothering to conserve his fuel this time.

She then transformed and lifted off herself, quickly soaring after him.

They soared and danced together for a couple hours, taking a number of barnstorming passes through the temple and its many structures, twisting and turning just above the streets at several hundred miles per hour.

They took one final vertical ascent, spiraling around each other in a passionate dance, before Maceo cut the engines, inverted and then gently descended again to land. Once there, he pulled the canopy back and climbed out just as Astravia set down and transformed back into her fifteen foot tall form again and knelt in front of him, beaming at him and that beam intensifying as she came up to her and reached up to hug her. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him close, then set him on his feet again, smiling down quietly at him.

“Would you lie down with me for a little while?” he asked her, pointing his thumb behind him to a grassy area intended for passersby to sit and relax in between destinations. He held his hand out and she stooped, walking hand in hand with him until they were there and he tugged, encouraging her to lie down and then he surprised her by kneeling behind her head and running his hands into her long golden locks and massaging her scalp.

Her expression was conflicted, but she said nothing as he put his weight into it until she was soothed enough to close her eyes and relax. “How does this feel?” he asked her.

“It feels nice,” she answered back, listening to the evening chirps of crickets and frogs. “Why though?”

“You looked like you needed it,” he told her. She opened her eyes again and stared skyward, her mind stuck in a recursive loop. After some time like this, just lying and being tended to affectionately by the mere six-foot tall mortal, she seemed compelled to break the silence.

“I have to think of the greater picture,” she told him as though she were confessing to him.

“I know.”

There was another pause and she thought longer. “How did you know?”

“I didn’t.”

“Yes you did. You know what happened today, don’t you?”

“I don’t. But whatever happened, I can see it in your eyes. It doesn’t matter. Today was today. Now is now.”

“If I did not… the damage would have been horrendous. It always is.”

“You don’t have to do this,” he assured her. “It’s your business, not mine. Unless it helps to talk about it.”

She rolled over and stared up at him still lying on the ground. “You do not know what I did. What I had to do.”

“I know that the dark tether the guild seems to create is wrapped around you now, and I know it’s heavy, even for you.”

“You do not know, though. Do you? I had to do it. You cannot understand why.”

“They thought they were gods,” Maceo answered back simply. She was taken aback and stared up at him as he reached over her to begin massaging her scalp once more.

“I know how compassionate you are. I treasure that about you, but the world cannot be compassion all the time. There has to be consequences,” she insisted, trying to convince him, but also herself. Maceo just pulled back and knelt in front of her again with his hand on her cheek.

“They deserved it,” Maceo assured her, which was like a weight of a mountain lifted from her shoulders. “I don’t know everything they did, but I know enough. They’ve earned it. That’s not why I asked for redemption for them, though.”

“Why, then?”

“For you,” he told her. “When you do this, you take the weight of their sins on yourself and they don’t belong to you. I just don’t like to see you in pain. I don’t like to see you scarred by the hate that others have made their own,” he told her.

She stared quietly up at him. “You said… when I do this…”

“I know you’re doing the right thing,” he told her. “I just don’t think the pain they cause should have to become a part of you.”

Her eyes were now filling with tears and her lips quivering. “Centuries, Maceo. Five centuries. They took all my gifts, not just to them, but also to everyone else and they twisted them and warped them out of their hate for me. Out of their jealousy for my power that they coveted for themselves. They have done things that even the gods are forbidden from doing. And what I did to them… the results will be incredible chaos for generations. I have seen it over and over again. The elaborate plans they laid out and manipulated governments and economic powers will all collapse like a house made from cards in a stiff wind and it will decimate the lives of countless other mortals. And their puppets will stab each other and claw at each other in a desperate grab to fill the vacuum left behind and it will take generations to heal itself, and it may never fully heal again. But if I had not…”

“You did the right thing,” he assured her and kissed her on her cheek. Her eyes filled over with tears and she sat up, wrapping her arms around him and held him tightly. And then she told him everything. All of the plans and schemes the guild had laid out, all the atrocities they’d committed, the genocides of entire cultures they had perpetrated, all their ambitions, what they’d done to her clergy and her temple, how they’d tormented the people of all of the lands around them and finally, her confrontation with them. All of it, every detail down to their torturous end, dying and withering at her feet, begging for any mercy, no matter how slight. And through it all, he just hugged her back and kissed her gently wherever his lips could find her skin.

“I aged them one year for every minute passed,” she told him. “Fast enough they could not do anything with the time they had left, but slowly enough that they would feel every ounce of suffering laid upon them.”

“Your curses are very famous,” he told her, though it certainly wasn’t said with pride.

“Sixteen thousand, four hundred and eighty nine of them,” she told him.

“They earned it,” Maceo told her earnestly.

“Did they? They did not hurt me. The could have never hurt me! Was it really necessary for me to do that?” she asked him, begging for forgiveness for her actions.

“It’s like you said, you have to think of the bigger picture. They wanted to play on that field. When have you ever forced a mortal onto that level before? They chose that. Even if you are here in secret, you had to send a decisive message. Besides, how many millions of lives have they hurt or ruined over their schemes? How many more would there have been? Astravia… you are probably the single best thing that’s ever happened to this world. They were probably the worst.”

“But I created them!”

“They created themselves. They took advantage of your good will and your gifts. They were the first of the magical societies. You took their predecessors in and taught them personally. And you gave them those abilities for a reason, not for them to play god. Revealing yourself to them probably meant they had to die anyways. I knew that. I know we’re safe here but only for so long, and I know that if a group like this suddenly starts flexing their muscles, someone is probably going to take notice. And they definitely hurt you. But this isn’t you. You are the queen of the gods. They earned their punishment but they don’t deserve your pain. I don’t like when you have to do this because you do not deserve that weight on top of everything else that you’re carrying.”

“You are not supposed to talk to a goddess like that,” she reminded him, staring into his eyes, their disparately sized noses touching.

“You can always punish me if you feel like I’m out of line.”

“No,” she smiled at him tearfully.

They stared at each other, Maceo occasionally reaching in and kissing her, still trying to sooth her tattered nerves. “Did massaging your scalp feel good?”

She grinned again at him, still teary eyed. “Yes,” she answered him.

“I could do it some more,” he told her.

“You need to be up in the morning, and it is very late,” she told him.

“Will you let me suckle you as I fall asleep?” he asked her with a sly grin which again caught her off guard and made her laugh nearly hysterically. She eventually calmed enough to look at him as though she were about to scold him, but he put his hand up to her cheek. “I love your smile,” he told her, softening her expression again.

She leaned her forehead against his and took a breath. “I am going to bring you back so you can at least get some sleep.” He smiled and nodded to her. “Please come home to me soon, my dearest Maceo,” she said to him, and again, he nodded with a warm smile.

“Or you could let me stay the night with you and sneak me back first thing in the morning,” he whispered to her to a giggle and a grin from her.
Check out my SW story Please..: https://ckent45.deviantart.com/

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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by fuzzyduck14 » Fri Jun 17, 2022 2:57 pm

Wow, just found this story and it's great!! Really enjoyed your "When the Peaches fell" as well. Great work for sure!!

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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Sat Jun 18, 2022 7:49 pm

fuzzyduck14 wrote:
Fri Jun 17, 2022 2:57 pm
Wow, just found this story and it's great!! Really enjoyed your "When the Peaches fell" as well. Great work for sure!!
Thanks so much! That really means a lot to hear you are enjoying my work.

Lots more to come! :D
Check out my SW story Please..: https://ckent45.deviantart.com/

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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Sun Jun 19, 2022 4:31 am

The next morning, Maceo awoke with Astravia, though she frowned a bit at how tired he was and struggling to wake.

“If you were sleeping next to a goddess with boobs this big,” he told her emphatically while stretching his arms as far as they would go, “you wouldn’t want to get up either.” This thankfully gave her a very much-needed laugh.

Once they’d showered together with Astravia showing him a great deal of affection, Maceo informed her that he’d promised breakfast with Rhona to get started in their day. This made Astravia quite somber and she knelt in front of Maceo.

“One final seed from that diseased tree,” she lamented. Maceo nodded, understanding exactly what she meant. “What would you have me do?”

“Follow your heart.”

Astravia sighed and stared off into space before she continued. “She is your charge. Tell me your thoughts regarding her.”

“There’s a fog over her. She’ll make intelligent arguments, though some of the arguments they made as they attacked you sound just like hers. They’re intelligent, but I feel like she’s reading them from a scroll when she says them.”

“Yes. Their order has been heavily brainwashed for centuries now. Most of it magically induced.”

“Do I have the power to affect it at all?”

“Over time. Only I could wipe it in a single try. They may be brainwashed, but reversing the brainwashing will not fix everything that has been done to her,” she informed him.

“You’re undecided on her fate,” Maceo deduced, and Astravia nodded to him, still somberly. “Well, then there’s no time to waste then. Her journey won’t make itself.”

“Do you wish for me to spare her?”

“You don’t want this seed to grow back again,” Maceo said in understanding. “And this is why they brainwash them. So that even if the tree was killed, it could grow back. You said she’s my charge so until you’ve decided one way or another I’ll try to move her more onto a path where she can atone. I’ll admit to you she has a long way to go, but I feel like there is still an ember inside of her. It would be bad for you to reveal yourself to her. I also don’t know if it would help or hurt to know what happened to her comrades.”

“I think it would send a message,” she shared. “But if she only learns out of fear, this will not erase the mark that she has earned for herself.”

“Then don’t tell her. I’m sure sooner or later she will figure it out on her own.”

“There were three more assassins traveling up the mountain yesterday before I met with their inner circle. Their remains are mostly decomposed by now but I will be certain what remains is covered up.”

“There were no other guild members working in this region?”

“It is too impoverished for them to take an interest. This, of course, was by design. They did not want activity so near to my temple because of the risks involved. The inner circle was quite upset that events surrounding your introduction to the nearby town was rapidly changing that. Other than that, they only operated in excursions and cursory missions to terrorize the locals there. If I had not revealed myself to them, they likely would have deduced that the temple was active again and why.”

“Let me try to salvage her. I’ll understand if you decide that she can’t be.”

“I did not expect you to get through to her. You managed to reach through her brainwashing enough to dissolve her bond with the guild. You might just be able to do that,” she told him.

Astravia froze time and flew him back to the village, just as the sun first began to creep up across the horizon. She set him down at the inn, which was still inactive and opened the locked door for him. She then kissed him on his forehead sweetly and she stepped back, disappearing from him as he was pulled back into time’s flow once more.

A little more than an hour later, he was standing in his room, staring at a magically induced parchment on the table when there was a knock on the door. “Come in,” he called. The door opened and in stepped Rhona with a timid smile.

“Were we still going to breakfast?”

“Hmm? Oh yeah. Was I late?” he asked, still staring at the parchment.

“Not really. Well, only a little. I thought I would check and see if everything was okay.”

“Yeah, I’m just studying,” he said, still staring down at the table.

“What are you studying?” she asked, approaching him now.

“You,” he answered her and waved her closer, pointing to an active image of Rhona, broken down and showing a flow of energy through her body.

“What about me?” she asked with trepidation.

“There have been a number of things that were just a little off about you since we met. I don’t mean that to be offensive, but… I decided to look into it.

“What kinds of things?” she asked him even more nervously.

“This is your body, look closely at your head,” he said pointing to the image. “The colors here represent the level of energy flowing. White is the highest, black the lowest with yellows and red being relatively high, blues and purples low.”

Rhona looked the image over, her brow furrowing over the numerous blue areas in her brain. “What does it mean?”

“Here is my image,” Maceo said and pulled out a separate parchment, which showed himself and much brighter colors around his brain.

She laughed nervously. “What are you saying? Men are smarter than women?”

“I’m saying your wits have been intentionally dulled,” Maceo told her. “Not all of them,” he added. “But it looks to me like specific areas were dulled and made less active.”

“I don’t understand,” she said, fidgeting with her hands and beginning to sweat. “Why?”

“I think the guild brainwashed you and worse, they used magic to do it.”

“No…” she insisted quite fearfully. “That’s not possible. I would’ve known!”

“How would you have known?” he asked her.

“Because the process is…” she answered and then covered her mouth with both of her hands.

“No judgments here,” he told her calmly and took both of her hands and sat with her on the bed. “I want your past to just be your past. But if it’s being dragged with you, I think I need to know.” She looked up at him, now sweating more heavily and then down at her lap, shaking her head. “You know how to do this yourself, don’t you?”

“It’s part of my normal job. We sneak in to see high ranking officials and we… make them more open to listening.”

“How open?”

“If they cause too much trouble? I almost completely wiped one man’s mind once. But it’s not possible they could do it to me! I know the process in and out! I would know if it was happening to me!”

“It could have happened before you understood how to use magic, or it could have been done to you very slowly over time in your sleep,” Maceo pointed out. “There are all kinds of ways it could have been slipped by you.”

“But… I wasn’t just some common sorceress…” she said, starting to cry now. “I wasn’t! I was reporting directly to the inner circle! I was…” she fidgeted and struggled, completely frazzled. “How do I know this is real? How do I know this isn’t just a trick?” she asked him hurriedly.

“You don’t,” Maceo answered honestly. “If you still had your magic, I would have you create the images yourself. I’d teach you how if I had to, but you don’t have your magic anymore and I don’t know who we would get to do it other than someone in the guild.”

“If I revealed myself to them after severing my bond, they’d kill me,” she said with regret.

“You only have trust in me to know whether this is true,” Maceo told her. “Something that I still have to earn quite a bit more of.” He then rolled up the parchments and headed to the door.

“Can it be fixed? Can you reverse it?” she asked him with begging eyes.

“Not in one go,” Maceo answered her. “I’d have to try a number of times before it was all gone, and even then the inactive areas won’t just reactivate on their own. Your mind will have to relearn how to use them.” She covered her mouth in both hands and shook, bordering on sobbing.

Maceo then walked back to the bed and sat with her again, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her tight while she clung desperately to him. He petted her head and soothed her as best as he could.

“This is just another game, isn’t it?” she asked him, still shivering with dread but also clinging to him. “You’re trying to trick me into asking you like you tricked them yesterday.”

“It wasn’t a game then and it’s not a game now,” he assured. “This is your life, and these are your choices. Whatever else has happened to you, you still have free will. I showed you what I did to try to be honest and up front about what I’ve found. Beyond that? I’m not going to sell you anything. Your life is your own, and your choices will determine where you go from here.”

“Is there any risk to undoing it?”

“No,” he answered directly, “other than the risk of knowingly letting someone tinker with your mind. Regardless of what you saw in that image, you’re still brilliant. This didn’t make you dumber.”

“Just more susceptible to… suggestions,” she whimpered.

“Yeah. But you’re pretty resistant to my suggestions, so I’m guessing there are limits to what you can be suggested.”

“And by whom,” she sighed.

“Don’t make any rushed choices,” Maceo encouraged her. “This is extremely personal and don’t let me convince you one way or another. Even when I finally do earn some trust. Now come on. Let’s get some breakfast.”

Over breakfast, Rhona told Maceo more about life in the guild as well as the other changes that had been made to her while she was in. They’d magically changed her reflexes, her strength, stamina and endurance. They’d also adjusted her vision and hearing to be unnaturally sharp. Interestingly, these were only a few of the changes they’d made to her as one of their operatives. As one of their better operatives, she’d grown accustomed to strength and stamina that were significantly above an average woman, though she admitted that she determined quickly that she’d have had extreme difficulty using only physical force to subdue Maceo.

“So you think you were stronger than me?” he asked her rather casually.

“That was actually another ability they appended to me,” she explained. “The ability to sum up a person’s physical abilities. I was pretty surprised when I discovered I couldn’t handle you,” she admitted. “I assumed you’d done a similar spell as I did.”

“No,” Maceo answered her. “Just a lot of hard work.”

She went on about her many abilities that had been magically weaved into her and described being able to read handwriting from across a room without the need to cast a spell, or hear a private conversation from the next room over or often physically subdue a man twice her weight easily and then in the span of several seconds watch as Maceo’s face became less clear in front of her, his physical reactions she could actually hear disappear from her ears and her strength evaporate as she shrank in front of him. Seeing him grow taller while she shrank and her breasts receded was particularly humiliating given how proud she was of her disappearing assets given how many times she’d accomplished a job because of using them to varying degrees.

“I feel… less. Not just smaller and weaker, just… less.”

“How much less is your normal vision?” he asked her as empathetically as he could.

“It’s not horrible,” she said. But I have to strain to see some of the things in the summit unless I can get close to it.”

Maceo nodded and thought for a moment. “Well, I’ve got two options for you. If you give me enough time, I can blow glass for you that will bend the light so that you can see better. You’re vision isn’t that bad, so I don’t think it would be that hard. I’ll put the glass on a frame that you can wear.”

“No thank you,” she declared loudly enough that a couple men a table over turned to look at her.

“Alright, well, the other option might or might not work for you. I’ll give you a list of ingredients and we’ll put it together tonight and it might help clear your vision up. Not to what it was before you broke your bond with the guild, but if it works it’ll help. But maybe think about the wearable glass. If we make the frame right, you’ll actually look very nice with them.”

“I’d rather use the magic,” she answered him.

The summit went as hoped that day, with them surging ahead in detailed planning starting off with the resources and manpower that could be spared. Each of the villages pitched in an there was vigorous debate over what each could and should contribute, but eventually a deal was made that everyone seemed comfortable with, though not as grandiose as they’d originally imagined.

The entire day was dedicated to planning and structuring the militia with a leader being picked as Babajide given his successful tactics that brought their caravan home. They also developed a reporting structure that allowed each of the settlements to remain appraised of developments.

During lunch, Maceo trained the village chieftain he spoke with the first day while Rhona stood by and watched, not really having anything else to do. The afternoon they worked together much more with Rhona able to take notes and document more and the organization began to take structure as well as accrue names that the settlements felt they could rely on.

By the end of the day, Maceo and Rhona were able to retire once again for dinner at the tavern and though they were interrupted a number of times, Rhona had more than her share of chances to describe her past experiences, which allowed Maceo to mentally take notes on her hang-ups and quirks.

By the time the evening show was over, Rhona was helping actively clean up with the other performers with Cajsa taking a bit of a jealous interest in her, though in between new fans of hers showing up trying to win over her attention. On the way back to the inn, Rhona was deep in thought and apparently all talked out. It was only when they were alone in his room and mixing the contents of his potion together that she finally decided to speak up.

“I want you to help clear the spell over my mind,” she told him. Maceo lifted his head from his work and looked at her.

“I think you should be a bit more choosy with your trust,” Maceo told her.

“I do trust you. Any sorcerer would have killed me for what I tried to do to you. I’ve had sorcerers try to kill me for it. I even have the scars to prove it.”

“They certainly kept you busy, didn’t they?”

“Please… I don’t want to live my life with only half a mind.”

“It’s not half,” he told her. “It’s still mostly there, it’s just certain parts have been quieted down.”

“I know the process,” she told him, her voice wavering. “I’ve done it so many times to marks I could do it in my sleep… if I still had magic. I never believed they would do it to me, though.” She was quite anguished by the thought.

“And what made you decide that I was being honest? That it’s not all a fabrication?”

“Because… I can feel it. I’ve put it out of my head now for years, but at some point, I realized that some things were getting… harder. I thought maybe it just came with age, or that I was tired from working all the time, but when you showed that to me… I knew. I just couldn’t believe they would do that to ME!”

“Alright, but next question: how do you know you can trust me to do the right thing? This power, to go in an mess with a person’s mind is very tempting. Just the possibility of making a small change, just a little tweak… you know, to help the other person. The next person who fiddles with your head needs to be the right person. It can’t be someone who would take advantage of you.”

“Why haven’t you made a move on me?” she asked him. “My senses might not be what they used to be, but I swear there’s some kind of spark there.”

“The spark is that I care about you. That doesn’t mean that I plan to sleep with you.”

“And what man thinks that way? Or am I actually that much less attractive after being shrunk down into… this?” she demanded.

“A man who is very much in love and does not want to hurt her,” Maceo answered her.

“And who is she? My magic may be gone, my senses weaker, but I trained my mind for my entire life to pick out the tiniest details so I could figure out my mission, even if I am dumbed down. Why don’t you ever talk about her? Where does she live? Where do you live? Where did you meet?”

“She’s someone who values her privacy,” Maceo answered her. “And she’s someone who has a very complicated past. One she doesn’t want me talking to people about.”

“Show her to me,” she demanded. “Use your magic and show me an image.”

“For what? So if by some miracle you can pick her out of a crowd and make her uncomfortable?”

“So she’s here? In this town?”

“It’s not your business. I told you, she values her privacy.”

“She sounds made up,” Rhona insisted.

“And you sound insecure. Is that really the only way you can believe that you’re attractive is a man sticks his dick in you?” Maceo pushed back, instantly offending her. She steamed and stewed and looked just about ready to scream as Maceo leaned over the table, staring at the wood and closing his eyes. “I have no idea what to do here,” he admitted under his breath. She was just about to scream when an image of Astravia appeared before her behind Maceo, though it was the one of her in her human form, a form she’d never shown to Maceo before.

Rhona gasped and sat back. Maceo lifted his head to see what the commotion was and then saw the back of the image of Astravia’s head and gave a half smile, though did his best to hide his gratitude for Astravia’s assistance before the image faded away without Maceo ever getting a single look at the face of this image.

“She’s beautiful,” she remarked.

“In more ways than one,” Maceo answered her.

“I would remember a face like that. She’s not in this town. How did you meet her?”

“My patron,” Maceo answered as honestly as he could.

“Oh. I see. No fraternization allowed,” she said, understanding again.

“Yeah,” Maceo answered, knowing that she was right and they certainly were breaking that rule.

“So then you really shouldn’t have shared that with me.”

“You can say that again,” Maceo answered her.

Rhona stared at her lap, lost in thought. “What if she and you… hadn’t?”

“Oh, I’ve always had a thing for red heads,” Maceo answered her. “And freckles. My oldest sister had a good friend like that and I had the biggest crush on her when I was little.”

“You did not,” she scoffed at him. “You are not going to tell me that I’m your dream girl.”

“Oh no, absolutely not, but you are very beautiful.”

“Oh really? Then what are my flaws, mister I like freckle faced gingers?”

“Your attitude,” he answered her with a smirk. “You have a bad habit of seeing the worst in people.”

“Then why do I feel like you’re starting to take a liking to my attitude. Sometimes you seem almost… flirty.”

“There’s a certain amount of charm there, in reasonable doses.”

“So what other flaws do I have?”

“No other real flaws.”

“So then there’s nothing about my body you would change? Like my height?”

“No, I actually like short too,” Maceo answered her. Astravia’s eyebrow lifted and she leaned closer with interest.

“Do you now?” Astravia asked her globe.

“Okay, so you are expecting me to believe that you are attracted to short, flat chested, freckle faced gingers.”

“Red heads,” Maceo corrected her, “and if you have to absolutely know, I have a thing for big boobs too.”

Rhona snorted with an unexpected laugh, then another slipped and she hung her head down and lay her forehead in her hand and shook her head at him, her laughing starting to take off now. “You are such a… man,” she laughed at him.

“Well thank you,” he told her quite proudly.

“And does this other woman… this blonde woman know your fetish for red heads?”

“I haven’t talked to her about it, but she probably has an idea. But you saw her. Did you notice those eyes?” he asked her.

“Green, with blonde hair. That’s so rare.”

“She definitely is. I could stare into those eyes for eternity.” Rhona gave a half-hearted smile and stared down again.

“How would she feel if she knew I was spending so much time alone with you? Especially in your room?”

“I’ll be talking with her about that too, first chance I get. Hopefully she won’t kick me to the streets.” Rhona smiled and shook her head at him.

“So you know that she wouldn’t approve, but here you are, alone with me, and knowing that I…”

“Knowing that I have committed my heart to her,” Maceo answered her. “I’m going to be honest with her and talk to her about it because just like with you, I’m still working on building trust.”

“And what did you do to ruin her trust?”

“Believe it or not, she was married before and trust was something that really didn’t happen there.”

“No she wasn’t! I saw her! She looked so young!”

“She does have a youthful appearance, but she’s actually older than I am,” Maceo told her.

“No!”

“Yes,” Maceo answered back with a smirk.

“Why does everyone else get all the luck?” she complained. She shook her head at herself. “So why are you risking your relationship with… a perfect woman?”

“You needed help,” Maceo answered her forthrightly. “At first I just wanted to try to reach some kind of truce with the guild, but when that obviously didn’t work out, you just… looked like you needed help. I need to be true to myself, and besides. I want to be more like her.”

Maceo then finished his work on the potion he was making and turned and handed it to Rhona. “The wearable glass will be more reliable,” he insisted.

“I am not wearing pieces of glass on my face,” she answered him back with determination. He shrugged his shoulders and stepped back, not willing to push the issue any further.

She sipped the drink and looked around the room, patient at first, then displeased with the results. “It’ll take more time than that.” He then pinned a piece of parchment to the wall with varying sizes of letters and words and stood Rhona at the other side of the room and asked her to read it. She struggled and was only able to read the largest of the letters. Maceo smiled and walked to her, taking her arm again.

“Let’s go for a walk,” he told her.

As they walked through the town, she made it a point to only speak softly, still telling him about what now was becoming clear to be a difficult and less than dignified existence within the guild. The guild was ruthless and controlling. They saw to the needs of all of its members, but did very little more. Fraternization with persons outside of the guild was all but prohibited, and if a relationship was discovered with an outsider, that guild member would be forced to kill that person themselves.

The guild had mechanisms built into each member in order to track them, supposedly for the purpose of finding them if they were lost, injured or kidnapped, and only a select few were allowed to shed these mechanisms so that they could operate without fear of a magical signal that might be seen by someone with magical abilities. Given the fact that all of the other magical societies had been eradicated by this point, this number was exceedingly low. As luck would have it, however, Rhona was one of these few. Rhona was also tentatively on track for a high-ranking position, though with that came even more restrictions to her life, rather than fewer. Up until she’d met Maceo, this all seemed to be exactly what she’d wanted and then when she stood helpless in front of him in a vein attempt to capture and then kill him, he did the unthinkable and not only showed her mercy, but actively tried to look after her and help her.

She then began pressing him on his training in magic, wanting to know what this exceedingly rare group was that would have access to such strange and powerful magic. She also wondered what real power he had, should it come to blows.

“Most of my magic is about gaining knowledge,” Maceo explained to her. “I use magic and methodology to investigate things and learn. It’s why I’ve been able to gain so much experience in so many areas.”

“But you can fight?”

“You really want a demonstration, don’t you?” he laughed.

“I know I’m too weak now to even try to hurt you, so what’s the harm?” she insisted. Maceo laughed and lead her to a secluded place just outside of town and handed her a knife.

“Alright,” he agreed. “No holding back, really try to run me through and do whatever you can to hurt me.” She smirked and held the knife out, wavering before her first strike.

“You’ll go easy on me, right? I’m a lot smaller and weaker now than I was the last time I tried this.”

“I wouldn’t’ harm a hair on your head,” he promised. “Now come on,” he told her and stood in front of her, just closing his eyes and standing completely still and unguarded. She seemed skeptical at first, but she did as asked and lunged at him.

The first thing she noticed was that when she plunged the knife at him, he dodged quite easily and gently to avoid her, not even struggling at all, despite the fact that he moved so fast. She swiped at his throat and again he dodged her as though he saw her movement well before she even began. She swept his feet, and was stunned to see him simply step over her leg and swatted her butt playfully, embarrassing her, but also angering her a bit with how unseriously he was taking this.

She went at him with more force and fury, desperately trying to match his uncanny speed, only to see him move more and more quickly around her, taking minor pot shots at her to antagonize her and embarrass her, even brushing his fingers across her cheeks as he danced around her effortlessly. She’d known this would be one sided, but he wasn’t even using any magic at all. She began taking stones by the fistful and throwing them at him and staring dumbfounded as he easily dodged them all, no matter how many she threw at once and she then charged him while also whipping stones at him in a bid to hit him with anything, but he just stepped into her and put his foot out in front of her, tripping her as she stumbled forward, falling toward her face.

She now screamed with frustration as he just grabbed the back of her dress and pulled her up so she wouldn’t fall flat on her face, so she whipped another stone at him which again he dodged with absolutely no effort until she finally saw it.

The stone she flung flew past him normally until several yards away it suddenly and inexplicably accelerated to several times its speed to where it completely disappeared from her sight. The sound of it hitting the ground also seemed off, like it had hit and skipped against the ground several times faster than it should have before coming to a rest.

She stared quite confused at him, then pulled in very tightly, her knife pointing at him in a strictly defensive position. He waited for some time, and finally approached with dizzying speed as she jabbed at him and backed away and to the left, though she did get tagged as she tried to dodge. Again she waited, tucking in even more tightly to minimize her movements and reaction time and this time she did barely manage to grab hold of his sleeve, but still got tagged for her trouble. Even so, she pulled back to a defensive position again and waited.

He stood there staring at her for what seemed like an eternity before suddenly he stepped forward normally for the first time since they’d begun this exercise. “Well, I’m not going to just attack you,” he informed her.

She chuckled at him and smirked. “What else can you do?” she asked. He shrugged and waved her forward, so she lunged again. This time he dodge with a much more normal speed, but well before she reached him she screamed as her right leg was yanked right out from under her and she was flung through the air.

When she looked at her feet, she saw that there was some kind of lasso wrapped around her ankle, with Maceo holding the other end as she was whipped out, then yanked back by a second lasso, this one wrapped around her torso and down much more gently than expected into his arms, where he set her down on her feet again carefully.

“You can manipulate time,” she accused him, astounded.

“What I just did just now had nothing to do with time,” he answered her with a grin.

“But everything before did. You can manipulate time.”

“I can channel the flow of time,” he explained to her. “A little. I can’t really manipulate it.”

“How? I’ve never heard of a sorcerer who could do that.”

“There’s more than one way to conduct magic. The guild’s methods have benefits, but they also have down sides.”

“But you can manipulate time! How?”

“I just told you: I can’t manipulate time, I can just channel it’s flow. Time moves around us constantly, it flows. Once you understand that flow, you can… well, you can do things with it similar to what you can do with water in a stream. If you dig the streambed deeper, it slows down. If you make it shallower, you speed it up. You can even cut a channel to make a new path for it to follow.”

“These weren’t even attacks, though! What kinds of attacks can you do?”

“You weren’t paying attention in the lesson this afternoon with the chieftain, were you?” he asked her with a smirk.

“What do you mean?”

“The most important weapon you wield isn’t the sword. It’s the shield. The shield becomes an extension of your body and your strength. It embodies your stability and your will. The sword becomes an extension of your reach and your accuracy. It’s only good for decisive, lethal strikes. If you waste it clanging with other swords, you chip and break it. So, my first training with actual swords was with ones that I was intentionally instructed to over harden. When they struck my opponent’s armor, they would shatter unless I struck in exactly the right way. It forced me to learn to rely on the shield to attack and only use the sword when the moment was perfect. It also forced me to become more accurate and precise with my attacks. It’s the same with magic. My magic isn’t the weapon as much as I am the weapon, just like with my sword and shield, they aren’t the weapons more than I am. My strikes with magic work the same as with the sword and shield. My magical defenses are my primary weapons. I only thrust or swipe when I can make a precision strike.”

“So you’re not going to show me the sword because the strikes are too dangerous?”

“Partly. My strikes with magic are also extremely fast. Much faster than when I use the sword. It’s difficult to demonstrate.”

“But you slowed me down in our match. You could just speed me up so I could see it better.”

“Slowing you down is pretty harmless, but speeding you up isn’t something I’m going to try unless I absolutely have to. Same for myself. That’s why I use this,” he said, walking a few feet away and stooping to pick up a rune he’d dropped in the clearing.”

“That’s why the rocks I threw suddenly sped up after I threw them, isn’t it? It created a perimeter where everything slowed down.” Maceo nodded to her. “But what if I fell outside of the perimeter? I’d be normal speed again?

“I go to the center and wait for you to come back in again.”

“I could fire arrows at you, though.”

“And I could intensify the field so that I can pick them out of the air. Or I could use the opposite technique if I wanted to be showy.

“What do you mean?”

“Think about what happens when you make a stream shallower. The water moves much more quickly, but other things happen too. The water has less room to move and it’s more compressed. The banks are more easily breached. In a wild river like that, you’ll notice how sharp and jagged the banks tend to be. Water will spill out in unexpected ways and even hit people or objects around it. The same applies to channeling time to move faster. If I sped you up, it would be like turning your body into a series of rapids, and have you ever wanted to take a boat through rapids?”

She shook her head no quite emphatically. “I’d have to speed up time a fair amount to destroy incoming arrows like that, but I think you’d be surprised how little I would have to speed them up to shatter them. I’m definitely not speeding you up.”

“But this is so limited. You become trapped if you use a field like this. What happens if reinforcements arrive?”

“It still works if I carry the rune with me. It’s just not as effective. The field that stabilizes me tends to cancel the field altering time around me and gets cancelled a bit and distorts the field so it’s uneven. But it still works. Besides, you don’t think that was the only rune I was carrying with me, did you?”

“I guess…” she admitted, struggling with it.

“Like I said, my magic isn’t the weapon, I am. More important than the magic or my skill with it is how I strategize with it. What I do with it tactically.”

She thought hard about his advice. “You would’ve killed me,” she decided with shock. “I was convinced I had more powerful magic than you.”

“You had an impressive sword with your magic. You were also very good with how you wielded it. When I met that sorcerer in Longsgallow, I saw that too. My strikes are faster and more precise than yours, but they also weren’t nearly as powerful. But you had no shield.”

She stared ahead as though she’d had an epiphany. “You would have killed me,” she determined.

“No, I would have captured you the way you wanted to capture me. I just wasn’t sure where I would take you.”

“It would have been that easy for you…”

“The guild has had it too easy for too long. They’re not use to having to compete with anyone on these kinds of fields. I think I could have handled myself down in Longsgallow. I think I wasn’t really prepared, and I think that some of the other members of my party would have been hurt though. After that, I went back to training and I prepared better. I didn’t really enjoy it, though. My magic is more for acquiring knowledge.”

She nodded and pondered his explanations, slowly absorbing them. “The man who taught you all this must be amazing with magic,” she admitted.

“What makes you think I was taught by a man?” he asked her, startling her again. He then walked her back to the inn and up to his room again. Once inside, he stood her at the door and had her look at the parchment once more and much to her surprise, she was happily able to now read most of it, with only the smallest letters and words eluding her from that distance.

“Not quite as good as I’d hoped, but close,” he told her and handed her a bottle. “This should be enough to last you a few months, but we’ll want to make you more.”

“Make me more? But… are you leaving?”

“Once the summit is over, yes.”

“But I thought I would go with you,” she insisted.

“Well,” he said, sitting her down again, “I can’t take you home with me. It’s just not allowed. I have some duties I need to see to, and plus…”

“You want to see your girlfriend,” Rhona teased.

“Can you blame me?” he asked with a grin.

“What will I do, though?” she asked him. “I only have so much money with me.”

“I’m working on it. I’d discuss it more with you, but I’ve got a lot going on right now and I’m still figuring out what options I can give you.” She nodded and thought for a moment then grabbed his hand and stared up at him earnestly.

“Maceo… how long would it take for you to wipe the guild’s brainwashing?”

“You mean what they did to those portions of your mind?” he asked her and she nodded in response. “I’d have to do it in waves. I don’t think more than ten. Maybe a little fewer.”

“I want you to do it,” she told him. “I want you to start.” Maceo sat up and back, clearly uncomfortable but she shook her head at him. “I know why they did it to me. It had to be for the same reasons I did it to others. It was to make me dependent on them.”

“Aren’t you just replacing me for them, though?”

“I want my mind back,” she told him. “The only thing is…”

“What?”

“Something is strange. I’ve had a few targets who have resisted this technique, but I was always alerted when it was beginning. I could also always add extra force to the spell to hold them together until I was able to make the trip to deal with them. Why hasn’t someone come to put me in check again? Why haven’t they done that with me?”

“They might be on the way,” Maceo pointed out.

“Maybe… but the contract on you was a top priority. I know for a fact that others were on their way up here. I was just the first to arrive. I’m not surprised they haven’t made it yet, but if they didn’t start showing up before end of day tomorrow, something is definitely not right.”

“Will you know them when you see them?”

“Not without my magic,” she answered. “I’m basically blind and defenseless. But if I do die tomorrow, I at least want to reclaim a part of my mind again. Please start tonight.”

Maceo finally agreed and he began with her. She admitted she felt a little light headed and a tad tingly as he worked to unpeel the layers suppressing certain centers of her mind, but otherwise didn’t notice anything. When he was finished, she looked at him and looked around. “I don’t feel any different,” she told him.

“These areas of your mind have been dormant for a long time. It’ll take time for them to wake up again, especially since there is still suppression holding them back. Give it time.”

“I may not have time,” she pointed out.

“You’re with me. If they were here already, they would have made a move by now, especially if they discovered who you were. If they don’t reveal themselves tomorrow, you can stay here with me tomorrow night. I’ll sleep in the chair. Just stay close to me and when they make their move, I’ll be ready. Another reason why the shield is more important than the sword. Now go get some rest.”
Check out my SW story Please..: https://ckent45.deviantart.com/

CKent45
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Mon Jun 20, 2022 3:57 am

Later that night, Astravia arrived at the inn and stood there looking down at a door so small she’d at best have to lie down in order to squirm through, and still likely end up stuck in it by her breasts alone. She sighed and shook her head.

“Why do they insist on building such tiny accommodations?” she asked herself and began shrinking down gradually again toward her 4’10” mortal form. When she reached a point where the top of the frame was only shoulder height to her, she closed her eyes and sighed. “I am resorting to this form far too often,” she complained to herself. “Am I going to be forced to create a taller one so that I may interact amongst them without appearing child sized?”

Down she went, her lovely features shifting toward less perfect ones afforded to a mortal and watched as the top of the door frame ascended to eye level and then upward as she was finally dwarfed by the little mortal door. Once she was this dainty size, she opened the door with ease and stepped through, a soft purple mist following her and extending out and in front of her, slipping in under the doors of all the rooms there in order to ensure that all of the inhabitants there remained deep asleep.

She climbed a set of stairs and proceeded to Rhona’s room, opening the door and walking in, crossing her arms and placing her hand on her mouth as she contemplated her thoughtfully. She took a deep breath several times before she stepped directly up to the bedside.

“He is making better progress than I’d hoped,” she admitted. “But sadly, I still see those same seeds within you. What am I to do with you?” she asked her. “I am not going to deploy him full time to take the years you need to recover from all of this,” she said, shaking her head. “I want him home with me.”

She took another deep, frustrated breath. “I do dislike dealing with mortals from this angle,” she stated and then Rhona suddenly began reducing in size, her blanket slowly falling in and down as her dwindling form deflated before Astravia’s eyes beneath the covers. Her head slid down the pillow, her luscious red locks dragging behind until her head completely left the pillow altogether. The silhouettes of her legs grew thinner and shorter, dragging slowly up and inward to her also shrinking body until a tiny woman just over a foot and a half tall lay there mostly buried by a blanket that might as well have been a collapsed tent.

Astravia peeled her covers back with her thumbs and forefingers and then picked the woman up with a single hand and looked at her, adjusting her nightie to allow her at least some dignity in her shrunken state.

“So, what does an assassin dream of?” she asked her, sitting down in a nearby chair and touching the tiny woman’s forehead.

Rhona’s dreams were revealed and Astravia frowned as she saw an image of her Maceo, standing closely to her, pressing his body against hers and staring down longingly into her eyes. “Of course,” Astravia muttered unhappily. “Why don’t you show me your past?” she asked and then began flipping through Rhona’s memories, watching events, listening to conversations as she held her in her hands. After some time like this, she grew tired of using both hands and shrank her further down to doll size so that she could easily lay in one of Astravia’s hands with her hair hanging over Astravia’s fingertips and her legs hanging over the heel of her palm.

“I do not see why I cannot simply keep you like this,” Astravia considered casually. “It does seem fair given the harm you’ve done to others with your magic.”

Rhona’s past hardly proved to be a thing of intrigue. Her past was relatively simple. She was stolen from her family as a young girl and raised in a home with a number of other children like her. There they were fed and educated thoroughly. Their lives were strict and structured, but in those early years she was afforded limited friendships and affection.

As she moved closer to her teens, she was graduated to a new program where she was trained officially in the use of magic. At this stage, she began to encounter other teens who’d somehow managed to find the guild on their own and secure a place voluntarily.

It was here that the centers of her mind were carefully and gradually dimmed in her sleep, allowing her to become more susceptible to propaganda and programming the guild wished to convey. They were so slow, in fact, that they took years to complete the process, only finishing shortly before she was sent on her first mission, a job to find an influential man who’d dropped off of the guild’s radar. She actually failed at this mission, and likely because of the method she’d chosen. Despite being fifteen and a little awkward in her appearance at this time, she attempted to use her feminine wiles to secure the information she was looking for. Her mannerisms were awkward and childish, and her body still not adult enough to give her the desired result and the one man that had shown an interest was the wrong man altogether and she was forced to kill him in a dark alley.

This moment also proved to be a defining moment for Rhona, who now became obsessed with her appearance and constantly judged her success based off of her ability to attract and seduce men, especially her marks.

By eighteen, she was growing frustrated by the lack of success her body was affording her in terms of convincing people to lower their guard that she began dedicating copious amounts of time to seeking ways to augment her abilities even more than the guild had done on their own. Of course this behavior was strongly encouraged and assisted by ranking members of the guild and before long Rhona was adding an inch to her height, then a little more bounce to her breasts, popping a freckle she particularly didn’t like out of sight, re-contouring her nose slightly and on and on until she eventually became the woman that Maceo had met a couple days prior. She also, similar to many of the women of her specific profession within the guild, relied heavily on her feminine attributes to either obtain access or information, or to disarm individuals because of her presence. By the time she’d found herself facing Maceo, she’d become extremely good at it.

Astravia then took the shrunken woman and set her on the edge of the bed. “Why don’t you dream of a conversation with me?” she asked and Rhona sat up on her own and opened her eyes, though they seemed foggy and dazed to a certain degree. “Hello,” Astravia greeted politely.

“Hello,” the doll sized Rhona answered back also politely in a tiny voice.

“So Rhona, I was wondering if we could have a little chat.”

“Sure,” the little doll sized woman smiled back.

“Tell me, Rhona, what do you think about Astravia. The goddess?” Rhona frowned and looked off to the side, struggling to answer. “Is something the matter?”

“No, nothing’s the matter. I just don’t know what to say.”

“Just tell me your first impressions when I say the name Astravia,” she told Rhona.

Rhona looked around, her face twisting. “I don’t know,” she answered.

“You do not know?” She shook her head and fidgeted, now looking around foggily at her surroundings and frowned. “What would you say if I told you I’d spoken to your colleagues and they did not like Astravia one bit?” she asked her.

“I don’t know,” the tiny woman answered and then looked up sadly at the mere 4’10” woman who was still five times larger than her sitting in a chair opposite.

“It seems to me to be a fairly simple question,” Astravia encouraged politely.

“It is,” Rhona agreed.

“Then why so difficult? What do you not know?”

“I’m confused,” she said, now looking at her massive surroundings again and becoming distracted. “I’m so fucking short,” she complained with a sad frown.

“You are not that short,” Astravia lied with a smile. “You are fine.”

“My feet don’t even reach the floor,” Rhona complained. “I’m so fucking short!”

“It is a high bed,” Astravia assured her.

“I wish I wasn’t so short.”

“And why is that?”

“I look like a child. I look like a baby,” she complained. “I wish I was taller.”

“If I helped you with that, would you be willing to help me understand your feelings a bit more?” Astravia offered cordially. Rhona perked up and nodded enthusiastically. “Hold your hands out,” she told her. When Rhona did, Astravia took them and pulled them out to her sides and as she did she grew and grew and grew until she was a solid three feet tall. “Is that better?” she asked Rhona who looked around happily at her surroundings that were much, much more manageable like this.

“A little. Could you make me tall?” she asked very politely.

“How tall would you like to be?” Astravia asked her.

“Seven feet,” she insisted with an eager nod. Astravia shook her head and smiled at the half sized woman.

“No, I am afraid not. You are much taller now than you were, though, are you not?”

“Yes… but I still feel so short. Can you please make me taller? Can you make me pretty?” Astravia now sat back a little, considering her a little more differently than before. “I want to be pretty.”

Astravia smiled and leaned closer to her, “Rhona, I think you are very pretty.”

“I used to be. I used to be pretty, but now I’m helpless. But even then, I was always… this. I could still see it. It never went away no matter how hard I tried to hide it.”

“Hmm,” Astravia nodded. “I understand, but Rhona, I still think you are very pretty. You have lovely eyes and a sweet smile when you are willing to share it and lovely hair that most women are so very, very jealous of. Do you know why women become so angry with women with hair like yours?” Rhona shook her head, though she listened very carefully with the woman who now only stood a couple feet taller than her. “It is because they are jealous. They are very jealous. Your fiery hair attracts men and this makes them jealous, and it betrays your passion and your fire, which is so intense it bursts from you and has to show itself through your hair. And they are jealous. Jealous of your beauty, jealous of your appeal and jealous of your fiery spirit. This is why they say and do such horrid things to you. You are very pretty Rhona.”

Rhona smiled and blushed, kicking her little half sized legs out into the air and bit her lip while tucking her head down into her shoulders. “Would you be willing to answer my question, please?” Rhona nodded to her now.

“What was your question?”

“Astravia. What do you think of Astravia?”

“The goddess,” Rhona answered with a whisper, leaning closer and looking over her shoulder as if she might be caught.

“Yes,” Astravia smiled back.

“I don’t know,” Rhona told her, leaning further and falling off the bed, requiring Astravia to catch her and set her back on the bed again.

“How can you not know?” she asked her patiently.

“Because… I don’t know! I’m supposed to hate her…”

“And why is that?”

“She held her power from us. She used us, and she looked down on us. She treated us like pets and then she abandoned us. She wouldn’t let us go to her temple, where all the best things she had were. We can’t even break in because the walls bounce us back because we have magic. We can only be let in the gates by Astravia herself but she left us.”

“I see. She sounds quite bad,” Astravia told the half sized woman, who nodded enthusiastically to her. “But you are not sure if you hate her?”

“What does hate feel like?” she asked Astravia. Astravia sat up straight again and gave her a bit of a sideways glance.

“Hate feels… like a burning inside of you. A burning that is directed at another and it pulls you toward that person because they caused that burning and it is painful and you wish to force them to take that pain back. You want them to carry it.”

“Oh,” Rhona said, almost thoughtfully.

“Your colleagues hate her. They were very, very mean to her and they told her so. Do you hate her?”

“No,” Rhona answered almost innocently.

“What do you feel for her? Describe it to me.”

“I don’t know,” she answered with wonder. “I thought I hated her, but… I never felt anything like that for her.”

“She does not give you pain?”

“No,” Rona answered her with a bashful smile and kicked her little legs in the air again.

“Then what does she give you? What do you feel?” Rhona especially struggled now, her face contorted and twisted. “This is difficult for you to answer,” she said. Rhona looked up at her and nodded. “Why is it so difficult? I would like to understand what is troubling you.”

“I don’t feel,” she answered, looking down at her swinging feet as though confused.

“You do not? No feelings at all?”

“I can have feelings, but they… I don’t know if they’re my own.”

“And why would you think that?”

“I don’t know. When I was little,” Rhona said, with Astravia smirking slightly as she was told this by a three foot tall woman, “I felt… all the time. Everything was… intense.”

“But not now.” Rhona shook her head. “What does it feel like?”

“Like I was told to. I know others, they get so angry when you mention Astravia’s name. I can see it in their eyes, it’s just like you said. But I just… I’m supposed to hate her.”

“I understand. Describe the feelings you do have,” Astravia asked her.

“It’s like…being placed in a room filled with other people and they’re all running toward a wall and you… you…”

“You have to run with them,” Astravia said. Rhona nodded again and began looking at her surroundings once more, distracted by how large everything was. Astravia placed her hand under Rhona’s chin and tipped it back to her. “Tell me about when the real feelings stopped. Tell me what happened.”

Rhona thought quite hard and then smiled at Astravia when she petted her hair. “It is difficult, I know. Take your time. I would like to hear all about it.”

“You’re very kind,” she complimented.

“Thank you,” Astravia answered, touching her cheek. “That is very nice of you to say.”

“You’re like him. So very kind,” she said, leaning forward again and once more falling from the bed and needing to be set back on it as soon as Astravia caught her.

“Like who, my dear?” Rhona blushed heavily now and tucked her head down and her shoulders inward. “Ah, I see. Tell me his name,” she whispered.

“Maceo,” Rhona whispered back.

“Tell me about him,” Astravia whispered to her.

“He’s very sweet, and kind, and smart.” She looked over both of her shoulders, nervous she’d be caught. “He didn’t kill me.”

“Should he have?”

“Why wouldn’t he? He follows Astravia. I was going to kill him. I didn’t know how powerful he was though,” she whispered.

“He sounds scary.”

“No! Isn’t that strange?” she asked Astravia, who couldn’t help but smile at her. “He should have killed me. I lost all my magic because I was so stupid and I tried to kill him and he was so kind to me. He has meals with me and he talks to me and he listens all day and he asks me to help him. He even bought me that dress!” she said pointing to the one he’d bought her, then she grew quite confused, looking at the dress draped over the table nearby and herself, and pulling on her night gown. “Oh, that won’t fit,” she complained.

“Oh it will fit perfectly,” Astravia said sweetly.

“No. Look at me! I’m too short!”

“Just you watch,” Astravia told her and snapped her fingers. Rhona looked at her oddly, tipping her head, and then looked down, her eyes filled with wonder as she sat in the very dress she’d pointed to and as promised, it fit her perfectly. She grinned and hugged herself, so thrilled to have this simple dress on. “You seem to feel something when I mention him. Or does this seem like you’re in that crowded room again?”

“No,” Rhona answered. There seemed to be a bit of wonder and a bit of realization in her voice. “It’s like before,” she said.

“Before what?”

“I don’t know…” she answered, confused again. Astravia nodded and created an image again of Rhona as she sat on the bed before her and then spun backwards through time, and a few seconds later Rhona’s expression became awestruck as she saw herself before losing her powers and reached over, grabbing Astravia’s arm and needing to be caught from falling off the bed again. “Like that!” she whispered excitedly. “I want to be like that!”

Astravia smiled and petted her and set her back on the bed once more, pulling the chair closer this time and then showed Rhona as she spun back in time until Rhona was still a girl. They went until there was a moment in time where Rhona grew confused. In this moment of time, she was lying in a dark room with a man standing over her staring quite angrily at her.

“I know him,” she commented. Astravia nodded to her and waved for her to go on. “But I don’t know this room.”

“These memories were taken from you,” Astravia informed her. “Would you like to go see them?”

“Yes,” she answered, staring longingly at the image.

“I will have to carry you with me,” she explained. Rhona nodded and frowned as Astravia pressed down on her forehead and she began shrinking again until she was around ten inches tall. Astravia then picked her up, sitting her on her palm and wrapping her other hand around her torso as she stood and they walked together into the image and stood there in this same room with the man and the younger version of Rhona.

Before them a scene played out of Rhona being lectured by a man for her excessive laughter during training. Rhona was in near tears when the man said, “If we’d have known your emotions were this out of control, we would have never let you get this far. Since you can’t use them appropriately, we’ll take them away,” he told her. Rhona stared at the scene, looking up at her much larger, younger self, who was sobbing. Then Rhona did her very best to mimic her younger self, trying to recreate those tears.

They found a number of such memories, stripped from Rhona’s mind and only accessible because Astravia had such mastery over time. Each instance, Rhona watched as she saw herself laughing and just like before, she tried to mimic those feelings, only to become frustrated. Eventually, Astravia carried her back over into her room and set her on the bed again.

“Do I have to stay so short?” she asked as Astravia set her on the bed, and Astravia smiled, took her hands and pulled out again, Rhona smiling as she grew again up to a gigantic three feet tall once more.

Once Astravia was sitting in front of her once again, she took the smaller woman’s hands. “These memories were stolen from you and the feelings were suppressed.”

“I can’t feel,” she told her.

“You can feel,” Astravia assured her, “but it is as though a heavy stone has been placed on them. But you hid some feelings, didn’t you?” Rhona gulped hard and looked around her, checking over her shoulder again.

“Don’t tell,” she begged Astravia earnestly.

“Of course not. I am very proud of you,” she told Rhona, who blushed again. “Rhona, I would like to ask you a question.” Rhona nodded enthusiastically. “Rhona, why do you wish your magic back? What do you wish to do with it?”

“I feel helpless. I’m weak. I’m… empty,” she said to her.

“I understand, but what would you do with your magic?”

“Hide,” she told Astravia. “I don’t want to go back. I’ll die first. I can’t anymore. But I need it so bad. I’m so empty.”

“I understand. You filled the holes in yourself with your magic. Parts of you were stolen and your magic was all you had to replace them.” Rhona thought hard for a moment, but nodded to her. “But suppose you do not need to hide. What would you do with your magic? What would you change?”

“What if he’s right?” she asked. “What if power is only good to protect?”

“Is that what you would do? You would protect?”

“I would keep him, if I had enough power.”

“Why?”

“Because… I can feel again. He’s so kind. He follows Astravia.”

“I know. You told me,” Astravia smiled back patiently.

“What if she can be kind too? They said we have to be cruel because we needed to in order to defeat our enemy. Do you think she can be kind too?”

“I would like to think that we all have the ability to be kind,” Astravia told her.

“If I follow her, do you think she’ll let me keep him?”

“He is not property, dear.”

“He’s not attracted to me,” she said sourly, pouting as she looked at her lap.

“Oh, he is very attracted to you,” Astravia assured her. “But he is already in love. His heart keeps him tethered to her.”

“What does love feel like?” Rhona asked her. Astravia’s eyes softened and she held both of Rhona’s little hands.

“Love feels like many things,” Astravia told her. “It changes shape like the clouds in the sky. It can give you a warmth that washes over your entire body, or make you excited so your body tingles, or it can hurt as though your heart was ripped out of your chest.”

“How will I know it, then?”

Astravia smiled at her more warmly and reached up, brushing her cheek with her fingers. “It will drive you. It will push you to do things you never thought you could do and it will pull you to someone else. If you are very lucky, that someone else will be pulled to you as well. But always remember, this is just one type of love, the type you are thinking of right now. There are many others.”

“How do I find them?”

“All answers in due time,” she promised and then pulled her down to the floor and set her on her feet, the three foot tall woman staring straight up at Astravia just beyond her bountiful bosom. She then knelt to Rhona and wrapped her arms around her, while whispering in her ear. “Your feelings are not as heavy as they were before. Find them, try to lift them. You must learn to feel before you know what it is like again.”

She then stood up and took Rhona’s hands and pulled on them. Rhona’s face lit up with joy as she suddenly started growing up and up toward Astravia, up to breast height, then chin height and then they were looking into each others’ eyes and finally, she was looking down a few short inches to the goddess.

“Sleep,” Astravia told her, “and dream sweetly.” Rhona looked around, still that somewhat dazed look in her eyes as she found herself back in her normal size again and in her nightie. She turned and climbed back into bed and closed her eyes and went back to dreams of her own.

“Still seeds of greed and envy in there, however, there is also more hope than I had planned. You’ve done quite well, Maceo. Quite well indeed,” she said and then she turned and walked out of the room again to set out once more on her trip back home to her temple.
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CKent45
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Tue Jun 21, 2022 3:18 am

Very early the next morning, Maceo woke to the sound of tapping against the window in the early hours shortly before daybreak. He sat up and looked to the window, where there were half a dozen robins sitting on the windowsill. He stepped closer as they all sat watching him, then the one furthest to the right turned and fell, flying off towards the west wall of the town. Then the second followed the first and a moment later, the third, then the fourth, fifth and finally the sixth.

“So subtle,” Maceo chuckled to himself.

He quickly dressed and headed out into the dark and walked briskly past the edge of town and into the woods until a beautiful woman stepped out from the shadows, one whom Maceo only stood a little more than knee height to. “Good morning,” he greeted her. “Are you alright?”

“I am well,” she answered him and knelt to him. “I have been studying your charge. I even had a chat with her.”

“Is that a good idea?” he asked, quite shocked.

“She was asleep,” she laughed at him. “To her it was nothing more than a dream and it was so deep in her sleep, she will not even be able to remember it.”

“You must have found something interesting or you wouldn’t be back here so soon.”

She smiled with pursed lips and then leaned forward, taking his hands. “I wish for you to come home,” she told him. “She is salvageable, but it will take years, maybe a life time to piece her back together again.”

“Do you want me to abandon her?”

“If you do, I must kill her. I will show her mercy and see to it she will be happy in the next world, but I cannot allow her to roam free in this world as she is.”

“Can you tell me why?”

Astravia picked him up and pulled him close, stepping outside of time and explained the conversation she’d had with Rhona and how confused and disassociated her subconscious mind was. Maceo nodded at every step before Astravia went on to share her conclusions and other investigations into the wayward sorceress.

“They have torn her to pieces,” she explained to him. “On the outside, even to herself, she is a perfectly whole, if mildly traumatized woman who is not just perfectly functional, but also quite proficient and adept. Once you dive beneath that most superficial layer, she is patch worked together. The guild was not simply happy to have a sorceress that was skilled and intelligent, they needed to brainwash her; they stole large portions of her memories. There is an entire month that is gone where they ingrained in her abilities to emotionally manipulate people in a way that became second nature and then wiped the conscious memories. This is what she has been doing as she whispers in your ear constantly. She is not even aware of it.”

“Her emotions were not only squashed and suppressed, they were stunted, and they are patchwork as well. She has a unique intuitive mind, which allowed her to hide certain emotional aspects and protect them despite what they were doing to her without her conscious knowledge, but her subconscious is aware, albeit only partially so. If she still had her magic, she would be working to lobotomize you as well, and she was so adept at this by this point, she very likely might succeed, even with you.”

“Deep within it all are seeds the guild planted to continually dig roots deeply wherever she goes. Her subconscious is aware of them and is fighting back, trying to push it to the surface and that is why she is slowly coming to grips with her brainwashing and her own manipulated mind. But her subconscious has been all but shattered by this point.”

“Thankfully, there are questions in her that show a light that can be nurtured within her to hopefully bring her back from the abyss. She does not understand hate, but neither does she understand love. Many emotions are all but locked away from her. While she does not understand love, she has shielded that part of herself emotionally, so she is at least open to it and that is why she is responding to your kindness. Deep inside, she is questioning the dogma of her organization, but it is struggling desperately to make it to the surface. Her fear has been stoked and fed her entire life, which makes it a formidable foe within her mind. She does not fully understand kindness but she protected that part of her enough that she is fascinated by it and drawn to it. When I showed her kindness and patience, she began to bond with me as well. But as her emotional layers are unburied, she will experience pain unlike she has ever felt before.”

“She also has a disjointed image of self. She knows exactly what that self looks like and she despises it. She is ashamed of it. This is another weak point the guild used to leverage her to do their bidding. Most importantly of it all, however, is these behaviors are all ingrained. She no longer has to think about them, they are that deeply rooted. Even without magic, she will work to reestablish the guild, because that is what she has been built to do by this point.”

“And I’m assuming that personally erasing this curse in her isn’t an option,” Maceo asked.

“If I do, then I will reveal myself to her. I cannot trust her to keep this secret, not given how psychologically fragile she is. I could erase the problems and reveal myself to her and she will spend years still trying to overcome what has been done to her, or I can make her whole myself, but in the process I will ruin her free will and individuality. There are no easy answers. In the end, she is looking at a long, hard and difficult road to heal, and I want you home, Maceo. Unless you feel this girl is your mission and you must follow that.”

“She’s several years older than I am,” Maceo laughed ironically to himself.

“Part of her is. Part of her is still trapped at varying stages of intellectual and emotional development. It will be a great deal of work pulling her back together again.”

“And I take it keeping her at the temple isn’t an option.”

“Her jealousy of what our relationship has become will constantly be at risk of festering, and the isolation will damage her more in the longer term. Also, I am sorry, but I cannot allow anyone to know what we have become to each other.”

“No, I know,” he agreed. “But we have become something?”

She smiled at him and petted his cheek with her fingertip. “Yes,” she admitted. “When will you be coming home?” she asked him.

Maceo thought hard about it and weighed his options carefully. “I can see the weight that was dumped on you by taking the guild down,” Maceo told her. “I can feel it.” She gulped as he stated it with such conviction. “At some point, a corner must be turned. Can she be saved?”

“It is possible.”

“But even if I dedicated my life to it, I can’t actually save her myself.”

“No, you cannot.”

“I would like to start her on her path, and I’m already working to find a place where she belongs. I’ll take two days after the summit to take a group along with her to the chapel and I’ll check in on her periodically to help her along, but I am asking she be given a chance. The fact that she asked you if Astravia can be kind tells me she’s fighting for air. I want a chance to find a way to create something positive from all of this. I will come back once I return her here.”

“Very well,” she agreed. “The key to her healing is to touch her emotions again and reawaken them. You will need to engage her in that manner. I trust you to be responsible in how you do that. All I ask is you be respectful of me.”

She returned him back to the flow of time and set off and Maceo returned to his room. When the time came, he went to Rhona’s room and retrieved her, though he noted that she had a strange look on her face. He collected her and took her to breakfast where she sat mostly silently with a contorted expression coming and going from her face.. “How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Short,” she muttered unhappily. He smirked at her, though she didn’t find the same amusement he did from it. “Something’s changed,” she added. He lifted his head and looked more closely at her.

“You mean with what I did with your mind last night?”

“I think so,” she answered, still struggling to try to find a way to describe the changes within her. “Something is different. I thought it would be more obvious, though.”

“I think it will take time,” Maceo told her.

“Do it again,” she insisted.

“Are you sure? If we move too quickly you might get overwhelmed.”

“Please… I need more. It’s like… it’s like… I don’t know, but I need to go farther.”

“Alright. After breakfast,” he agreed.

“How much longer do you think the summit will last?” she asked, fidgeting in her seat again.

“I think we’ll probably finish by today.”

“So then you’re leaving,” she concluded rather apathetically.

“Not yet,” he promised her. Her eyes turned upward, peeking up at him. “I take it that I’ve earned your trust?” She nodded to him and waited again for him to offer his thoughts. “We have a lot of things to discuss,” he told her. “You have a very long road ahead of you and I really want to help you, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that much of this path you’ll have to walk for yourself.”

“You mean you’re cutting me loose. I gave up my powers. I gave up my beauty and my strength and my vision.”

“I thought you said I’d earned your trust.”

She shrank back a bit, lowered her head and nodded to him. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be,” he told her. “You didn’t say anything wrong. Walk with me,” he told her. He then paid their tab and led her outside to take a walk and clear their heads, headed toward the nearest entrance to town. Once he was sure they had enough privacy, he spoke again with her. “I’m forming a plan. If I do, will you follow it?”

“What else am I going to do? I gave up everything. I have nowhere to go, no income, nothing.”

“Alright,” he agreed, then sat down on a boulder, took her hand and sat her next to him. “You should live here,” he told her. “The barrier that took your magic will also take it from anyone who tries to come after you. There’s no safer place than here for you. I am working on finding you employment and a place to stay where you’ll be comfortable. But that’s longer term. In the short term, I’ll be paying you for everything you’ve done to help me this entire summit. I know you feel helpless, but you’re such a massive help. Not only that, remember that argument we had where everyone was staring at us?” She nodded to him. “The way you handled that was absolutely perfect. It was really clever how you diverted them and covered up that we were arguing. I really appreciated that.”

She smiled a little bashfully and lost eye contact with him, but he went on. “We’ll wrap up the summit. Then I need to introduce you to a friend, but I need to have a conversation before we do that. If you could, fetch Gaeten for me this morning and let him know that I’d like to talk to him during a break. I want to convince him to gather the magicians and take another trip to where I trained them in their art.”

“And where is this?” she asked him.

“It’s a chapel, dedicated to Astravia. It’s further up the mountain. I’m not going to give you full access, but… I’d like you to see the library there and see what books there might be of interest to you. I’ll work with them, but we’re also going to work on unburdening your mind some more. More importantly, though, we’re going to begin work on the hardest thing for you.”

“And what is that?”

“Healing.” She sat up again, giving him her undivided attention. “Rhona, I have a bad feeling about it all. The dark tether, the dulled areas of your mind. Is there anything else you can tell me about what’s happened to you over your time with the guild?”

She thought hard and long, then looked up at him. “There are these times in my life… I’m not really sure…”

“It’s alright. Go ahead.”

“It’s as if… there are gaps in my memories. But I can’t tell for sure. I woke up this morning with the vague sensation that… that someone I knew when I was younger… like he took something from me. I’ve had these ideas once in a while, but I always assumed it was nothing. And then you showed me what my mind was looking like and… it’s exactly what I imagined what I was doing to my targets would look like.”

“I’m worried about what we’ll find once we start going down this path. Strangely, I’m even more worried about what we won’t find.”

She nodded and looked down at her lap, clearly concerned as well, but she peaked up at him again when he squeezed her hand. “We’ll go to the chapel, and then we’ll work on freeing your mind some more, but after today we’ll go a bit more carefully. We’ll study and hopefully start to open up this mystery some more and then I’ll bring you back here where you can be safe and comfortable.”

“And then you’ll leave,” she pointed out.

“I’ll be coming back more often now. I’m not going to leave you drifting. But I have other matters to attend to. I especially need to get to work on the weapons the militia will need. But I’m not going to abandon you,” he promised.

She smiled and nodded, accepting his proposal.

They headed back to town and kicked the summit back off again, where they entered final discussions for organizing and planning their militia, though they side tracked as it became evident that each of the settlements would need more support than they could give. It was decided that more regular trade would be conducted and would need to be planned and scheduled between the many settlements. They also concluded that it would be in their best interests to allow each settlement something unique to focus on in their trade, so that none of the settlements would overall be more important than the others and began brainstorming on that as well as documenting everything, thanks to Rhona, who also now was providing feedback to the attendees on some issues they might encounter in some of their proposals.

At lunchtime, Maceo left her behind and traveled to Elaheh’s home and walked up to the front door and knocked. Elaheh’s mother answered, though she didn’t look pleased to see him. “Maceo, it isn’t that we dislike you, but I think you know how troublesome it would be to have you calling on Elaheh. She’s engaged now, and he really doesn’t like you.”

“I’m actually here to see all of the ladies of the house,” Maceo answered her.

“And why?” she asked suspiciously.

“It’s just a hunch, but I get the feeling you already have a good idea why,” Maceo said to her. She drew back, now even more suspiciously. “Please, it’s important.”

She looked at him as if studying him and then waved him inside where Elaheh was tending to her elderly grandmother. They all looked at him and each other somewhat warily, and then they all sat, staring up at Maceo who stood in the center of the room. “So what’s so important?” Elaheh’s mother demanded to know.

“Well, where do I start?”

“How about at the beginning?” Elaheh’s mother demanded.

“If I do that, then I think it will just make things worse,” he told them with a chuckle. He crossed his arms and stood thoughtfully. “I noticed when I had gone out with Elaheh, she had a very interesting pendant,” he said with a nod, and then looked to the three women.

All of their eyes went wide and Elaheh covered her pendant up with her hands. “I’ve already seen it,” he told them.

“What do you want?” Elaheh’s grandmother asked him quite forcefully.

“Have you ever known anyone by the name of Kalena?” Their faces all went awash with fear as they stared at him, each of them frozen under his gaze, though he certainly wasn’t projecting any intimidation or malice. “That would be a yes,” Maceo said quietly.

“What do you want?” the grandmother asked again, this time even more forcefully.

“I’ll get there,” Maceo assured her. “The pendant was unfortunately the only clue I needed. The fact that Elaheh didn’t say anything though was a little odd to me and I decided I should bite my tongue and respect that she didn’t want to tell me and trust that she had her reasons.” They relaxed slightly now, but certainly not completely. “A few days ago, I had an encounter that started to put the pieces in place for me, and now I think I just about have this puzzle put together.”

“And what puzzle is that?” the grandmother asked, still quite suspiciously and forcefully.

“Kalena disappeared. She seemed to vanish when she retired. I never understood why. I’m assuming the few that even knew the name wondered too. But there was someone out there that did, wasn’t there? She didn’t disappear; she went into hiding. And now I think I know why.”

“Why?” the grandmother asked him, now sitting up and glaring icily at Maceo, still not trusting this outsider.

“They figured it out. It took five centuries, but they finally put it all together, and just in time, because she was the last one,” he told them. “And this was the final thing she had left to share hoping that Astravia would forgive them.” The fear in them began to subside, but even now the three women were filled with suspicion. “I just have one question. If she figured it out, why didn’t she revoke their charter?”

They all looked at each other now, most of their fear and suspicion gone, and most importantly the grandmother was coming around to him. “What they’re up to could have ended decades ago if she had.”

“You know about the guild of sorcery,” the grandmother said, looking at him with wonder.

“I thought I did. My encounter a few days ago revealed a lot more, though.”

“What kind of encounter?” Elaheh’s mother asked him, still a little suspicious.

“We’ll get there, I promise. But please, tell me. Why didn’t she revoke their charter? If she was leaving the temple, she could have at least finished the work.” The grandmother finally sat up and scooted forward in her seat, waving for Elaheh’s mother to get some drink and a chair for Maceo. Once he was seated comfortably and had a cup of tea in hand, the grandmother began to explain.

“It was a chance encounter she’d had with a traveler,” she explained. “He was a man who wandered near the temple not long before my mother decided to retire and when she took him in and nursed him back to health, he told a harrowing tale. He claimed to be a scribe for a king who’d been overthrown, but overthrown in secret. The king was still there and ruling, but the scribe claimed his mind had been erased and he only issued commands uttered by his new master: a sorcerer. A few knew what had happened, but they stayed very silent about it because of what the sorcerer could do, and did to anyone who he perceived as a threat. The best way to survive in that kingdom was to pretend you didn’t know what had happened. Then the scribe was working in a cove of the king’s library when he overheard a conversation between this sorcerer and others of his kind. They were discussing the merger of that kingdom with two others and the wars they would use to justify it.”

“He was caught,” Maceo concluded.

“Not quite,” she explained, “He managed to sneak out of the palace in the middle of the night, and it was only after he disappeared that they realized what had happened. He knew what he’d learned was too much for him and he couldn’t keep faking his ignorance, so he ran. They sent sorcerers after him and placed bounties and he ran for months until he wandered up onto the mountain. My grandmother spotted him from the tower of the main gate, lying on the road not far from the last waypoint before you turn to head to the temple. She spotted him through a telescopic lens. She had to stay with him for three days at the waypoint before he was strong enough to climb into the cart to be brought back into the temple. She recorded everything, and then she did go to do exactly what you asked about. She tried to revoke their charter and invoke the curse attached to it. She couldn’t because she’d waited too long. She was so elderly by this point, she was simply too weak to control enough magic to do it any longer.”

“The priestesses gave up using magic on a regular basis a couple of centuries ago,” Elaheh’s mother picked up. “When they began spreading out…”

“Along with the priests,” Maceo added, which made them all wince and lower their heads in shame.

“When the priests and priestesses disbursed to try to keep the embers of Astravia’s religion alive, the magic Astravia taught them did little good in the outside world. Magic use just made us into targets. There was also the fact that they’d suspected for generations that one of the magical societies was orchestrating an extremely long-term plan that was leading to the fall of the temple. They didn’t have any proof, though. That was the secret mission of the displaced priests and priestesses. They were to find evidence of the plan and determine which society it could be. When the guild emerged above all the others, that much seemed pretty obvious, but the proof still wasn’t’ there and the decline of believers in Astravia meant less and less influence to find the evidence they needed. So, when my grandmother finally had the evidence she needed, she was shocked to see that the magic she hadn’t practiced was too weak.”

“The high priestesses all carried a spark, which was given to her first high priestess by Astravia herself,” the grandmother explained. “The very first thing that my grandmother did then was signal all of the followers to come back as quickly as possible so a new high priestess could be chosen, but she was too weak even for that. She was quite old by that point. They decided the best plan was to finally close the temple and leave it until Astravia returned and to take the documents we needed with us to beg our case when she finally did come back. My grandmother tried one final time to pass the spark to me on her deathbed, but in the end, it left with her to the next world.”

“I see,” Maceo nodded. “So there is no high priestess left anymore.”

“No,” Usha confirmed. “Only three types can revoke the charter. A high priestess, a favored, or Astravia herself. The last high priestess was my grandmother and there haven’t been any favored for several centuries. My mother went into hiding because the guild knew we were investigating them and they desperately wanted to eliminate that last threat to them. High priestesses rarely left the temple for centuries, because they noticed how priests and priestesses would sometimes mysteriously disappear.”

“Where did you come from?” Elaheh asked him directly. “We know all of Astravia’s followers, but you appeared out of nowhere. I had to press very hard with Cajsa, but after I learned the magicians acquired their power through a pact with Astravia, I had to know more. She shared with me that the place you took them to learn was a chapel commissioned by Astravia near the top of the mountain. My grandmother had only heard of it in passing from her grandmother, but you knew this chapel intimately. You knew exactly where it was and you had access.”

“I wasn’t expecting to find Astravia’s followers when I came here,” he admitted. “I’d heard the last high priestess had left to go be with family, but I didn’t think I’d find her descendants here.

“So where did you come from? We all know each other and we are very careful about letting people know about our faith because we know that the guild is out there and we have no idea if they could still be searching for us.”

“Astravia didn’t just have the temple. She did send out missionaries centuries ago to spread her word,” Maceo shared, neglecting to mention that his lineage was not among them. “I guess until I met you, I thought I would be the last.”

They looked at each other, seeming to agree that his story seemed plausible. “The fact that you have the ability to unlock the chapel says quite a bit about you,” the grandmother admitted. “So why are you here?”

“I take it up until now, you’ve been worried that I was an agent of the guild, trying to trick you out of hiding?”

“Or what we call a sleeper,” the grandmother shared. “There were anecdotes passed down through the clergy that suggested agents had been created by the guild that didn’t even know they were controlled.”

Maceo nodded and thought it all over. “Why…” he then said with determination while gathering his thoughts. “There’s a sorceress here,” he told them all, frightening them again terribly. “Usha, you of all people know that the elders insisted on a barrier at the edge of town because they were concerned about sorcery in the community and they wanted safeguards to reign in rogue magic users. Any sorcerer or magic user that is not bound directly to Astravia will be stripped of their magic the moment they pass through it.”

“So… she’s powerless,” the grandmother said with a smile and almost sadistically.

“She came here for me. The guild has the same questions about me that you do. I honestly didn’t know about all this mystery and intrigue before I came here. I’ve been piecing it together as I went.”

“The flame haired witch you’ve been toting around!” Elaheh’s mother exclaimed. “Why didn’t you kill her? You think she won’t go running back to the guild and tell them what you’ve done?”

“Oh, they would kill her if they ever set eyes on her again. I convinced her to break her bond with the guild.” Now they were completely flabbergasted.

“How in the world did you do that?” the mother asked.

“She didn’t know about the charter. I taught her about it and what the consequences were for violating it, and she agreed to do it since her magic was gone anyways. Honestly? The safest place for her is in this town, inside the boundary.”

“She’s still not welcome here,” the grandmother insisted. “I have the ear of the rest of the elders, and I can see to that.”

“I can’t take her with me,” Maceo insisted.

“Then she can roam,” the old woman insisted back.

“Well, if the town does reject her, then I’ll take my business elsewhere. Somewhere that she can be safe.”

“You would honestly throw away everything that we’ve built together for this…. Witch?”

“She’s not a witch, and I’m responsible for her now. So yes. Rejecting her is the same as rejecting me. Before you go to the elders, give it some time to calm down and maybe reconsider. Once we finish with the summit, I’m taking her to Astravia’s chapel and we’re going to try to…”

“ABSOLUTELY NOT! ABSOLUTELY NOT! You are not taking that witch to one of Astravia’s hallowed grounds!”

“It’s not your choice. Were you even confirmed as a priestess, Usha?”

“I was,” Elaheh’s mother pronounced. “A member of the guild of sorcery has no place in a house of worship to Astravia. Absolutely not.”

“She’s no longer a member of the guild. You also don’t know what they’ve done to her. Besides, there is a small ember in her that I think might be able to be fanned into a follower of Astravia.”

“It’s a trick! It’s all a trick! She’s just looking for any angle she can get to keep from getting herself killed. She is right here, she is too close to finding the documents we’ve preserved to show to Astravia. We’re NOT going to risk her finding the treasure trove they’ve been looking for for decades!”

“I want Elaheh to come with us,” Maceo added. “I’ll be bringing the magicians as well. If you’re worried about it, then I will show Elaheh how to unlock Astravia’s personal chamber in the chapel and she can lock them up there. It will definitely be safer than where you’ve been hiding them.”

“We’ve protected these documents for generations! We’re not letting them go.”

“I’ll still teach Elaheh how to gain access to the chapel. She’ll have access to the libraries there. Wouldn’t you like her to have the opportunity to be a priestess? A real priestess? Not just one confirmed through ceremony?” They all looked at each other.

“You can’t create a priestess,” the Grandmother insisted.

“I can’t create a high priestess. But with a bit of help, a priestess can create herself.”

“Her guild plotted the downfall of Astravia’s temple,” the grandmother pointed out. Maceo then used his magic to conjure and project an image from his memories of a conversation with Rhona where she was describing to Maceo her past and the things that the guild had done to her to fashion her into the weapon they wanted. Then he cut the image and looked at them. “This is just the surface. You mentioned sleepers. You’re probably right, because as it just so happens, the guild does the exact same thing to their lead operatives. She’s had memories wiped and her emotions crushed into suppression, and even then there’s more.”

“That doesn’t change what she was or what she’s done,” the grandmother insisted.

“Do you want her to die? Or do you want her to atone?” They all looked at each other. “What would Astravia do?”

“Do you honestly think she can be trusted?” Elaheh’s mother asked him. Maceo then conjured the memories of when she tried in vain to attack him and discovered her access to magic had been stripped. They watched Rhona break down into a sobbing mess and gave their first hints of sympathy.

“They stole huge chunks of who she is, or they just stomped them down so she couldn’t feel them anymore. She used the magic to fill in the gaps, and the guild used it as a drug to keep her addicted. So now I’m asking you: do you want her to atone? Do you want to take the chance that you can find someone else like you if she does?”

The three women sat and considered everything that had been shared. It was Elaheh who spoke next. “I’m going to the chapel with him. And I’m going to help them.” Her grandmother first sat up and opened her mouth as though she had something to say, but stopped at the last instant.

“I’ll need to introduce you sometime today,” Maceo explained to her.

“You can bring her here,” Elaheh’s grandmother agreed. “I might as well get a look at her myself.”

Maceo agreed and thanked them for their time, and then left to rejoin Rhona, who had spent the entire lunchtime sitting alone on the edge of the crowd with a rather lonely look on her face. When Maceo returned to her, she immediately perked up and hopped to her feet.

“I thought you said it would only take a little while.”

“It was more of a discussion than I planned.”

“So what did you need to do?”

“I was talking to the friend of mine I mentioned. I’ll introduce you later today, but she’ll be coming with us to the chapel.”

“Oh,” Rhona said, though without any particular expression on her face as she turned and followed Maceo back to reconvene.

Astravia sat watching, and then stood from her chair and went to her mirror, looking herself up and down. She played with her hair, pulling it over her shoulder and looked at herself. Then her hair suddenly changed color to a bright red, brighter than Rhona’s. She looked at the globe again at the mortal woman and then looked at the mirror once more and as she did, her hair shifted again, this time altering to a lush, nearly, metallic looking crimson that looked very much like flames churning every time she turned her head.

She then frowned and seemed to brace herself. Once she was prepared, she began shrinking, slowly, gradually down to her mortal form only this time with the red hair and she looked at herself in the full-length mirror at this very tiny 4’10” tall woman who was staring back at her.

She struggled and stared at herself and finally braced herself once again and began shrinking once more, down to 4’9”, then 4’8”, 4’7”, 4’6” and finally 4’5” tall where she seemed to reach her limit and shivered at herself violently. Then beside her appeared an inanimate version of Maceo, towering over this excessively petite Astravia, who was just about the right height to wrap her breasts around his cock while standing in front of him. She draped his hand over her and she found a somewhat crooked smile as she did so, but then shook her head violently and suddenly jutted back up to 15 feet tall with her normal golden locks.

“I HATE being tiny,” she complained and stormed out of the room.
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CKent45
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Thu Jun 23, 2022 3:17 am

The summit continued to go well and before dinnertime, they’d concluded all of the necessary business and were beginning to part ways. Maceo then took Rhona to Elaheh’s home and introduced her as promised. Her grandmother generally kept her distance, but was polite, while Elaheh and her mother did most of the interacting with Maceo sitting in the background allowing them to get to know her as well as get a feeling for her sincerity.

They stayed through dinner and afterward, Elaheh’s mother took him outside to speak in private. “I didn’t see it at first,” she told him, “but the more time we spend with her the more… fractured she seems.”

“They don’t socialize much in the guild. This is probably the most socializing she done in years, probably longer. But also, there are the other things that I mentioned.”

“There are moments, where I almost feel like I’m talking to a scared little girl, and then the next she’s a poised and professional woman again.”

“What do you think? Over all?”

She took a deep breath and looked back at the house where she could hear her daughter laughing as she talked to Rhona. “I’ve gotten tired of hating and fearing them,” she admitted. “You’re sure that she won’t turn us in?”

“I have a safeguard just in case,” he told her. She nodded and thought a little harder.

“I think you’re doing the right thing.”

“I hope so. She’s dangerously close to becoming dependant on me.”

“She does seem sweet enough, in her own way. She’ll be welcome here.”

“I’ll make sure she has accommodations when she gets back,” Maceo promised her.

The performance that night was extravagant and larger than life, even more so than any of the others before it. Maceo once again joined the magicians as they powered through an almost hour and a half performance that left the entire town and their guests screaming with delight and glee, while the light from their act shown nearly as bright as day for miles around.

Rhona spent the performance alone on the outskirts of the crowd and when it was all over she wandered back towards the performers who were all cleaning up as the crowds departed and she stood again on the fringes alone watching. She remained like this until Elaheh arrived with her fiancé and introduced him to her.

Elaheh refused to accept how distracted Rhona was, looking over toward Maceo continually, but patiently pulling her attention back toward her and her fiancé who was quite charming toward her until he learned that she was in any way related to Maceo and then became conspicuously quiet.

This worked fine for Elaheh who was more interested in chatting and enjoying some conversation with the wayward woman who’d she had decided would be her new friend.

“So why are you coming with us anyways?” she asked Elaheh.

“Oh, I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to see the chapel,” she confessed. “There are so few places accessible to us since the temple was shut down.”

“You’re a follower of Astravia, aren’t you?” she asked Rhona, who blushed, having accidentally spilled that information too soon. Rhona was both stunned as well as fascinated by this exceedingly rare opportunity. “You are,” she insisted after Elaheh found herself unable to answer.

Elaheh excused herself from her fiancé and then stepped to a space a little more private. “My mom is going to kill me,” she said, shaking her head.

“I’ve never met one of you before.”

“Well, fair is fair, I guess. I know about your past too,” she said, and now it was Rhona who blushed and grew uncomfortable.

“I was always supposed to be on the lookout in case one of you ever popped up,” Rhona admitted to her. “They weren’t even sure any existed anymore.”

“What were you supposed to do with us if you found us?”

“In my last position, I was supposed to kill on sight. Of course, now I couldn’t even report in on you even if I wanted to.”

“Why is that? Is it because you’ve lost your magic?” Again Rhona blushed and seemed to shrink in front of Elaheh, who was quite understanding and rubbed her shoulders. “Being one of us isn’t so bad,” she promised her.

“I just feel so… empty.”

“Maceo told us.”

“What else did he tell you?” she asked.

“Not a lot. That they hurt you and that you needed to heal. He said there were consequences for you breaking your bond with the guild.”

“Consequences doesn’t even begin to cover it,” she said, shaking her head. “He helped me break the bond because I can’t anymore and it broke all of the spells I had over myself. I shrank nine inches right in front of him!”

“Oh wow,” she remarked, quite shocked. “I can’t imagine how that must have felt.”

“It felt…” she said, then her face went blank like there was nothing there. “I don’t know how it felt,” she admitted after a moment. “I remember how sad I was. And how much more empty I was after it happened.”

Elaheh looked at her with sympathy and then wrapped her arms around her and hugged her close. Rhona could only jerk as her body went rigid and she stood tensely at the unexpected affection. “Relax,” she told Rhona, pulling her head close and over her shoulder.

“Does everyone know I was a sorceress?” Rhona asked, now hugging awkwardly back.

“I think so far just me, my mom and my grandmother. Does it bother you? People knowing?”

“Yes,” she answered back.

“We’re gonna take good care of you,” she promised.

The next morning, they were up early with Maceo already preparing before anyone even arrived at the stables. “I’ll have to meet you on the road there. I have to ride ahead to see to the new orders that were placed,” he explained to Rhona and left her in charge of the one horse he was leaving behind to pull his cart.

Maceo then rode ahead at a light gallop to the temple, where the doors were already open and Astravia was waiting near the entrance. “You made time to come see me,” she smiled at him with a laugh.

“Who wouldn’t make time to see a goddess?” he asked her, trotting up and hopping off of his horse, only to be scooped up into her arms and kissed passionately. Once she finally let him loose for some air, he leaned back and placed his hand on her cheek. “I won’t be able to stay long,” he told her, but she nodded to the side. Once he looked down, he laughed and shook his head as he realized that his horse was now frozen in time. “Does that mean I’m only staying for an instant?”

“It means you cannot leave my arms,” she told him suggestively and kissed him again. She carried him out to the pool and sat down with him pressed against her bosom. He grinned at her and then she lifted her hand and pressed his hand down with a single finger down into the bodice of her dress, guiding it to her nipple which began stiffening as Maceo touched it.

“So you have a thing for large breasts, do you?” she teased him.

“You said you love them, why can’t I?” he asked her.

“Show me how much you love them,” she ordered him and pressed is head down to them. She then pulled the straps of her dress down and exposed her breasts, sighing happily as Maceo thoroughly enjoyed them.

Given the nature of their escape from time, Astravia kept to her word and never let him out of her arms until she was satisfied with the attention to her massive breasts, though if time had actually passed, he would have spent hours fondling, hugging, kissing and sucking on them. She sighed happily and then pulled him up and kissed him once more before fixing her dress and carrying him off to the metal working shop where time began moving again and Maceo went to each of his golems and issued them all orders for new weaponry for the militia. She then saw him to the west gate with his horse, and he was off yet again.

“It’s too bad I can’t reveal the flying machine, because I could go back and forth between here and the chapel in a few minutes,” he told her. She smiled at him and knelt down, petting his cheek with the tip of her finger.

“Why don’t you focus on fulfilling your obligations so you can stay here with me,” she suggested and pawed gently at his shirt.

He was off quickly and headed out to get to a an almost entirely obscured connection between this road and the one that connected the town and Astravia’s remote chapel. He was forced to forge his way through thick underbrush to make it onto the next road and then walked with his horse for over an hour before he heard the distant sound of horse hooves behind him. He slowed his walk and looked over his shoulder until he saw a horse’s head appear over a hill, followed by most of a horse and Gaeten, who waved at his younger friend once he caught sight of him.

Maceo came to a stop and waited, greeting each of his students and then pulling his horse up to hitch it to the cart that Rhona was driving with Elaheh and Cajsa riding along. Once he had the reigns in his hands and they moved forward, Rhona looked over to him with a rather unpleased expression.

“You didn’t say anything about the horse being wild,” she lectured him. Suddenly both Elaheh and Cajsa sat up and stared at Maceo with startled expressions.

“I assumed you could handle her,” Maceo insisted.

“The horses are wild?” Cajsa asked him in disbelief.

“Haven’t they been nice to you?” he asked her.

“How can they be wild?” Cajsa asked, still stunned. “These are the same horses you took to Longsgallow with us!”

“It’s not uncommon for magic users to use wild horses, it’s just considered rude not to tell someone they’re working with one.” Rhona explained

“Well, we know you can handle one,” he complimented her. “I haven’t worked with many other magic users, so I didn’t think to mention it. I just trusted you could handle her.”

“She just startled me is all,” Rhona told him.

When they reached the waterfall, Elaheh sat up and leaned over the front of the cart and stared wide eyed. “Is this it?” she asked with wonder. Maceo affirmed her suspicions and then led them up the path to the entrance, which Elaheh marveled over. He then handed the reigns back to Rhona and walked ahead, opening the gates and ushered them all in. They unloaded everything and then lead the horses and carts to the stables and back up into the entryway.

“Could you all set up and I want to give Elaheh and Rhona a tour?” he asked and then set out ahead of the others to show the wing that they would be using during their stay as well as select a room for both Elaheh and Rhona. He then took them to the study where classes would be held for the magicians and finally to that wing’s library, which Maceo had to unlock and light up for them.

Once they walked in, both women were amazed with the size of the library. Elaheh had never seen a library this large before in her life, while Rhona had only seen one as they explored row after row of shelves filled with books, which neither of them had ever seen before.

“These are… scrolls?” Elaheh asked, pulling one down and flipping through it.

“Books. They’re a bit different way of collecting information than a scroll,” Maceo answered.

“And this is only one of two?” Rhona asked, also in awe at the sheer availability of wisdom. Maceo nodded to her as she turned in circles, drinking it all in. “And this is just a tiny fraction of what she was keeping from us,” she said in wonder.

“Keeping from you?” Elaheh asked her, now broken from the spell of precious knowledge surrounding her.

“Members of the guild were blocked from entrance into the temple without explicit invitation from Astravia herself,” Rhona answered her, still enraptured by the glory of it all.

“All of the magical societies were,” Maceo confirmed.

“Why?” Elaheh asked them both.

“The priestesses were arbiters over them all. Each of the societies were actually more powerful than the priestesses, who were trained for other things above magic,” Maceo answered her. “The magical societies were barred entrance so that they couldn’t covet Astravia’s knowledge and to maintain an advantage for the priestesses. Your grandmother would probably know about it.”

“Is that why they were so angry with her?” Elaheh asked Rhona, who now looked at the ground.

“I don’t know,” she answered as though she were lost. “They told us that we were kept out to keep us always below the priestesses. We were left to fight over scraps while the priestesses lived in luxury with absolute power over us all.”

“The charters,” Elaheh concluded. Rhona nodded. “Only I didn’t know about the charter until just a few days ago. They’ve lied to me,” she insisted. “I don’t know how much is true anymore.”

“Maybe start with this,” Maceo told her, handing a book to her. “It has a history of the magical societies. Why they were formed, what they were asked from Astravia. It will tell you more behind the mission the guild was created for.” She nodded and accepted the book, curiously flipping through it.

“Elaheh, when you’re done here, I’m hoping you can claim a priestess’ title. A real one. I assume there are very few of those left.”

“Two,” Elaheh confirmed.

“When you have it, this chapel and these libraries will be your responsibility. I may have access to this place, but it was intended to be cared for by a priestess. I’ll leave access to the libraries up to you. There is a lot of knowledge in here, and a good portion of it could be dangerous in the wrong hands, but I’m hoping that you will help guide Rhona through them.”

“You don’t trust me with this knowledge, do you?”

“You still need to atone, Rhona. And besides, if by some miracle I can restore your magic, we need to be careful about what power comes back into your hands.”

“Because you don’t trust me.”

“Because the guild still has programming inside of you that is trying to reassert itself over your mind. I think that because you have no magic, it’s relatively dormant, but it’ll probably awaken again once you have magic.”

“What kind of programming?”

“Years of messages hidden in your subconscious that will pull you down the path you were walking before. It’ll come from deep inside your mind and whisper to you.”

“Like I used to whisper to my marks,” she concluded.

“Yeah. It will pull you back towards the mission the guild set out for you.” They then left that library, locking it and checked in on the others before heading down to the sanctuary, which Elaheh marveled at like a child gazing at precious jewels for the first time. Following that, they went to the other wing.

“This wing contains Astravia’s personal quarters. I’ll show it to you, and you’ll have access to it, Elaheh, but don’t go there unless it’s important. Those quarters belong to her and it’s best to respect them.” Elaheh agreed and they looked through each of the many rooms until they reached the spiral staircase to Astravia’s personal quarters and Maceo unlocked the room, which they entered, with Elaheh even more awestruck than in the sanctuary.

“The furniture is massive!” she laughed, even running and climbing up onto the bed with some effort that was larger than any bed she’d ever seen before, and also softer. They looked out the balcony at the scene of mountains in the distance and Elaheh familiarized herself with the room while Rhona looked around, quite interested but looking as though she felt out of place.

Once Elaheh had her fill, he ushered her on and put his arm around Rhona to reassure her. “I know it’s a lot, but I’m convinced that we can help you build a better life than you had before.”

“I don’t belong here,” she answered him. Elaheh turned and looked up at her, then came back to confront her, though she had difficulty finding anything to say.

“We want you to belong here,” Maceo assured her. “It’ll just take time. This is just your first visit. When you leave here, you’ll have much more knowledge than when you came. And hopefully more than just that.”

He then led them down to the other library and inside and they both nearly fell over to see this library was even larger. “So much,” Rhona said. Maceo smiled to them both and then took Rhona’s hand, closed the door behind them and took them back to an open area and sat her at a table.

“How are you holding up? We’ve removed a couple layers so far, how is it feeling?”

“I don’t know,” she said, still struggling to explain herself. “Something is different. There are times when I’m here and thoughts that aren’t mine keep coming in.”

“I think they are your thoughts,” Maceo told her. “I think it’s the first twitches of your emotions beginning to wake up. There’s a reason I wanted to bring you here. I want you to have a quiet place so that you aren’t overwhelmed by something triggering emotions unexpectedly. They’ll probably be muted for a while as those parts of your mind reawaken, but they may also not be stable. You’ve been mostly cut off from them for so long that you won’t know how to keep them under control for a while. Now we have the big question. Who do you want to know about your past?” he asked her.

“I get a choice?” she asked.

“Of course. I told Elaheh because I don’t see a way around it, but the others, it’s all your choice. Anyone back in town? All your choice.”

“So I can decide not to tell your magicians?”

“Of course. I only ask because it might be easier if we tell them. If you’re ready, I’m willing to remove another layer, but from here on, it might start to become more difficult.”

“Why did you bring me?” Elaheh asked him.

“I assumed you’d learned to meditate and clear your mind. I think you can do a better job teaching her than I can if that’s the case. She’ll need it.”

“You make it sound like it’s going to be a terrible thing?” Rhona said to him.

“It’ll be a very good thing. I’m just afraid it’ll be overwhelming at first. The others will use the other wing as their base of operations. You both will use this one to give a bit more privacy. I’ll have to go between the two.”

“I think I shouldn’t tell them yet.” Maceo nodded and agreed, which seemed to please her.

Rhona looked at Elaheh, then Maceo and nodded, showing she was ready to proceed. Maceo began and Elaheh watched with wonder as Maceo began his magic, once again focusing on Rhona’s mind, though this time he went far more slowly and carefully out of an abundance of caution. Elaheh stared wide-eyed as a dark mist seemed to break apart around Rhona’s skull and then he stopped.

He looked at her and gave her a moment. “Anything?” she looked around the room, thinking carefully, but shook her head.

“Alright. Do me a favor please and take your time. Relax. Elaheh, stay with her, find some things that are interesting to both of you, and this once maybe take her up to relax on the balcony again for a little while to clear her mind. I’ll be back before dinner is ready and we’ll talk some more. Meanwhile, I’d like to work with the magicians a bit.”

“I’d like to help,” Rhona insisted. “I still know things. I’m not completely useless.”

“You’re not useless at all. Help me after dinner, alright? For now, I’d just like you to take things slowly. Almost half of the layers have been removed by now and I just want to be careful not to accidentally awaken something too quickly.”

“After dinner. You promise?”

“Absolutely. I’d have you teach them yourself, but you said you didn’t want them to know your past yet. Someone as skilled as you, though, will be a big help teaching them.” She smiled and nodded, though her expression was quite muted.

“I’ve noticed,” Elaheh said, looking to Rhona, “that the more time we spend together, the less emotion you show.”

“I think it’s because the emotions the guild has taught her aren’t her own. She’s not emoting so much as she’s mimicking,” Maceo explained.

“Yes,” Rhona answered. “People seemed to respond better when I showed emotions. I guess I didn’t think I needed to do it as much anymore.”

“I’d rather find your genuine ones,” Maceo told her with a smile and put his hand up to her cheek. Suddenly she blushed and closed her eyes, leaning into his hand, even hugging it, sighing heavily. Elaheh was taken aback, but Maceo remained still, smiling at her until her eyes flew open and she yanked her hands back and leaned away suddenly and blushed with immense embarrassment.

“Something new?” Maceo asked her gently. She covered her mouth and tucked inward as though trying to hide, but she nodded. “Good.”

“It was so intense,” she remarked.

“It’s still only part of how far it can go,” Maceo told her. “This is why I want to go slowly.” She nodded in agreement.

Maceo then left and went to check on the others, who were quite curious about what the other two ladies had been brought along for. “To help you to some degree,” Maceo answered them. “Elaheh is also here to learn about the chapel, and learn how to help take care of it. Rhona is here because she’s been through some trauma. I’m going to try to help her heal, and I needed to give her a safe place to do that.”

“Is there anything we can do?” one of the teens asked him.

“Probably,” Maceo answered him. “She doesn’t realize yet how bad it was. It’s also very personal for her, and she’s not ready to share about it. For now, please just try to show compassion and don’t press her on it.”

“And I’m assuming try not to make her think about it?” Gaeten asked. Maceo answered in the affirmative and then set about teaching them a few new potions that were a bit more complex than before.

That evening after dinner, Elaheh was off studying on her own while Rhona was assisting Maceo with his teaching, fetching materials and on occasion quietly giving him feedback away from the others. The other teenaged girl was working on a mixture of ingredients as Rhona went by and watched her and stopped, reflexively jumping over to her and helping her with the vial she had just finished pouring. “Oh no, not so little! If you do, it’ll become unstable in the next stage and explode,” she told her.

Suddenly the entire group sat up alertly and looked at her and the room grew completely quiet. Though no words had been spoken, one could see the sudden suspicion in their eyes. “Thanks for catching that,,” Maceo answered her stepping in to cover for her after seeing the shocked and embarrassed expression on Rhona’s face.

“Do you… know magic?” one teen asked her.

“I talked to her about what we were working on,” Maceo answered him. “I made sure she knew some of the things that could go wrong. She’s right that it could have exploded, but it would have only been a small one. Just enough to startle you, not hurt anyone.”

The group looked at each other, but most of them shrugged it off, with Gaeten being the only one remaining suspicious after this encounter. At their next break, he pulled Maceo aside.

“Is there something I should know about her?”

“For now, only that she’s been through something very traumatic.” He leaned back, obviously not satisfied with this answer. “I need you to trust me,” Maceo added. Begrudgingly, Gaeten agreed and went about his business again. While the other students worked, Rhona approached him and whispered in his ear.

“They know,” she concluded.

“No,” he told her, patting her hand. “It’ll be fine. You don’t have to tell them if you don’t want to,” he whispered back.

That evening, when everyone was asleep, Astravia strolled in down the long corridor, her soft mist following her once again until she reached Rhona’s room and sighed, shaking her head at herself. Once more, she stood there, and then she began gradually shrinking down into her much smaller form, less than one third her original size.

“I have not been forced to do this so often in such a short period of time in hundreds of thousands of years,” she complained to herself and then opened the door and walked in, took a chair and moved it up to the bed. She then looked at the still noticeably taller Rhona and frowned, causing her to shrink down again just like she had at the inn, only this time stopping her at three feet tall.

“I would like for you to dream of another conversation with me,” Astravia suggested. A moment later, little Rhona’s eyes drifted open and she looked over and up at Astravia as she sat down in her chair and adjusted her posture in a dignified manner. “Hello again,” she greeted the half sized woman.

“Hello,” Rhona greeted back, though this time there was a slight wavering in her voice.

“Would you like to chat again?” Astravia asked her politely.

“Sure,” Rhona answered back with a pleasant smile and then crawled out from under her covers, looking with confusion at them once she noticed how heavy they were. She brushed it off and then crawled to Astravia and sat on the edge of the bed like the previous time.

“How do you like it here?” she asked Rhona.

“The beds are so comfy!” she exclaimed, then covered her mouth and blushed. Astravia smiled at her and urged her to continue. “I’ve never slept in beds so comfy. He said they were made by Astravia and that makes them special, she said with some wonder.”

“He? Do you mean Maceo?” She nodded fervently at her. “Well, I am happy that you are comfortable,” Astravia told her, which made the little lady smile unexpectedly. “Would you be willing to tell me how you have been since we last spoke?” Rhona nodded, but her brow furrowed and her face scrunched as she looked off to the side. “You are experiencing new things,” she concluded. Rhona thought for a brief moment, but shook her head and looked back up at her.

“Not new, no,” she answered, struggling to explain herself. “This is… normal?”

“Not yet,” Astravia told her. “But you recognize what is happening? Does it seem familiar?”

“Vaguely,” she admitted.

“Tell me about it, please.”

“It’s like… it’s easier to move,” she answered. “Like… like…”

“Is it like weights have been laid upon you for a very, very long time?” Rhona nodded fervently again. “Is it better now?”

“Much. But I’m still… it’s still…”

“You’ve barely moved in so long?” Rhona nodded again, taking a moment to look at her surroundings.

“Why do I have to be so short?” she complained.

“Because you are so cute,” Astravia glowed to her. “It makes my heart warm to see you and I could just wrap my arms around you and squeeze you,” Astravia told her enthusiastically, causing Rhona to suddenly grin unexpectedly and blush. “I think you are absolutely adorable,” Astravia said, tapping the tip of the little lady’s nose with a playful smile, which proved to make Rhona blush even more. “What do you think about these new feelings?”

Rhona looked at her and seemed to grow confused. “When we last spoke,” Astravia explained, “you exhibited very few feelings of your own. You said you felt feelings where it was like you were standing in a crowded room and you had to run with the others. Other feelings you had, you seemed to try to copy from those you saw.” Rhona nodded to her in agreement. “And now, you react much more on your own. How do you like these feelings? What do you think of them?”

“It’s better,” she determined after much consideration. “But it’s so strange.”

“What was once familiar has become strange. But what is strange will once again become familiar,” Astravia promised her. She smiled at the reassurance. “How else to you feel? Do you feel empty? Helpless still?”

“So much more helpless,” she said. “So much more weak.”

“And empty?”

“It isn’t as bad anymore,” she told Astravia.

“When last we spoke, you seemed quite tired, even sleepy. You seem a bit more alert tonight. But there is something else in your eyes. Would you be willing to tell me what it is?”

“Just thinking. I don’t feel as tired now, but I’ve been thinking.”

“What preoccupies you, Rhona?”

“A man.”

“The same man we spoke of before?” Rhona shook her head at her, her brow furrowing. “Who is this man?”

“A man I know.”

“Tell me about him. Is he kind like Maceo?”

“No,” Rhona answered immediately without needing to think about it. “He’s very cruel.”

“That sounds unpleasant. Why are you thinking about him?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well tell me about him, then. How do you know him?”

“My work,” she answered. “I met him several years ago. They sent me to his kingdom because he’s a baron and he has a lot more power than a normal baron.”

“How did you meet?”

“I pretended to be a prostitute. He picked me up and fucked me. He fucked me so hard that it was painful. Then he threw a couple bronze coin at me and went to leave. I told him that he agreed to silver coins and then he beat me.”

“Were you scared?”

“No. I knew I was stronger than him. I used to be stronger than him. It hurt really badly, though. He broke my jaw. And then he pulled his pants down and pissed on my face.”

“And why did you put up with this if you knew you were stronger than him?”

“I can’t show him. If I do, I’ll give away what I am. He needed to think he was in control.”

“Then what happened?”

“I used my magic to bind his hands and feet. He fell flat on his face. He broke his nose. They were going to be so mad at me. I don’t know how to heal injuries. Never leave visible injuries on a mark. They always said that. Never.”

“So what did you do?”

“It took me an hour to try to cover his injury up with my magic. Then I erased his mind.”

“And why did you do that?”

“I couldn’t have him telling anyone about me. I couldn’t have him telling them about the prostitute that had hurt him. Then I had him pay me all of his coins and sent him home and told him to send half of his troops to his border and attack the villagers there first thing in the morning and to let me into his home the next night through his back door.”

“Hmmm,” Astravia said, looking at Rhona and how casually Rhona said all of this. “I suppose that is quite a lot to have on your mind.”

“Well…

“Well?”

“There was another man…” she began, then huffed out with mild frustration. “He was an advisor to a king. He was attracted to young girls. Very young girls. It took me over two months to craft a spell that would make me look like an eight year old, and even then only for a little more than a couple hours. It wasn’t nearly enough time to lure him in, so I had to make another spell and try to approximate what I would look like so I could create illusions of me walking near his office and that took weeks too to lower his inhibitions. When I was finally sure he’d make a move, I used the spell and went for a walk and then he caught me when I wasn’t looking and pulled a sack over my head and knocked me out. I didn’t think he would go that far. I woke up with him raping me. When he saw that I was awake, he started punching me, telling me what a disgusting little whore I was because my pussy was so loose.”

“Well, he didn’t realize you were actually an adult,” Astravia offered. Rhona shook her head.

“It was really sloppy though. I should have watched him more closely. I didn’t even know how long I had been out when I woke up and then his wife came in, and it got even worse. I guess he’d been telling her for weeks about me and she was looking forward to her own chance with me so he held me down and she started playing with me and right in the middle of it, the spell wore off. I wasted most of my time with the spell unconscious, and I didn’t even realize ahead of time that his wife was actually the one calling the shots. I really didn’t have any choice, so I broke the wire they’d bound me with and knocked them out with a blast. I almost completely slit my wrist getting out of the wire, but I was frustrated, so I destroyed the sexual centers of their brains. I destroyed everything around them too. I’d never done that before. I wiped their memories of that day and let them go, but it completely ruined the mark. Both of their attitudes were so much different after that. They became so lazy and I wasn’t going to lure anyone in anymore with sex so I had to try other things, but it really screwed everything up. She walked out on him, and she wandered out of town. I didn’t run across her for a year after that and he was fired as an advisor because he didn’t know anything without her around and he was fired before I could make another attempt on him.”

“And the wife?”

“I saw her one day begging for bread outside of a town a week’s ride from where she had lived. She’d fallen completely apart. The husband ended up arrested when he just started casually telling people about all the little girls he’d raped. He was put to death.” She then huffed with frustration again. “I had a much easier time with his replacement, and I didn’t even have to wipe his mind to get him to comply. I just set him up with a prostitute and knocked them both out and he was almost eager to come to me for new orders. He really wanted me to be proud of him.”

“Rhona, why do you suppose you are thinking about these people? They do not sound enjoyable to think on.”

“No,” Rhona agreed. “I don’t know. I’ve just had them on my mind lately.”

“How do you feel about them? How do you feel about what you did to them?”

“I don’t know,” Rhona answered. She was deep in thought. “I’m trying to figure that out.”

“What else can you tell me about them?” she asked, but Rhona came up short.

Astravia was beginning to become frustrated when Rhona stated quite innocently, “I don’t think he would have ever done that to them.”

“Who wouldn’t?” Astravia asked her.

“Maceo. He would have never done those things to those people. But I’m confused.”

“What are you confused about?”

“I know he would be very angry about people like them. I know he would hate them. I think he would want them to be punished.”

“Punished how?”

“I don’t know. But I’m positive he’d really hate those people. We’ve never talked about it, or anything like this, but I just feel like he would hate them so much.”

“And why is that?”

“Well, I know how nice he is to children. I don’t think he would like them to be raped,” she decided. “He was so kind to kids whenever we came across them before coming up here. Being raped doesn’t feel good. I’m betting that being raped as a child is really painful. I don’t think he would like hearing about that. I almost asked him about it, but I wasn’t sure how to bring it up. Especially not in front of that other girl. She acts as if no one has ever hurt anyone before.”

“Why do you think he wouldn’t want to hear about these things?” Astravia asked her.

“Because he’s so kind. I felt something when he touched me earlier. It was so strong, and it was scary.”

“What did that feel like?”

“Like… a warm bath,” she decided. “He definitely wouldn’t like these stories. But I keep thinking about them.”

“I see. Rhona, I am going to let you get to other dreams for now.”

“Okay,” she said, sounding slightly disappointed. “Do I have to stay so short?”

“No,” Astravia answered her with an amused smile. “We will fix that in a moment. I do have something I need to say to you, however.” Rhona looked up at her and leaned forward eagerly, nearly falling off the bed again. “It is difficult for you to remember things when I speak to you like this, but I need you to try very hard to remember what I am about to tell you.”

“I remember you,” she told Astravia. “I remember when you came to talk to me before. I missed you,” she said rather innocently.

“But much of our other conversation is foggy to you, isn’t it?” She nodded her head in agreement. “This I need you to hold on to. This is important.” Rhona nodded and listened even harder. “Rhona, you are beginning to resurface. It will be like breaking through the surface of the water when you were drowning. It will be scary and it will hurt. It will be like your lungs are filled with water and you will feel as though you are dying. Just like if you were drowning in water, however, you need to push through. You need to cough all of the water out of your lungs. It will burn, it will sting, and you will feel tired, but remember what I have just said. These feelings will pass, and you won’t feel so empty anymore.”

“Promise?” she asked Astravia.

“I promise. Hold on to what I have just told you.”

“When will it happen?”

“Soon. Very soon. Now crawl back into bed,” she told her.

“But what about…”

“Do this for me,” she said with a happy smile and petted the half sized woman’s cheek. Rhona stopped and looked at her, then did as asked and crawled back across the bed and under her covers. Once she was settled, Astravia stood up and tucked her in. “Ready?” she asked, then suddenly Rhona grew more than two feet, feeling her body and legs spread across the bed and fill her blankets out again. She gasped and grinned and bit her lip and looked up at Astravia excitedly. “Goodnight,” Astravia told her and began to walk toward the door.

“You’re very kind,” Rhona said to Astravia as she yawned and began slipping into another state of sleep again quickly. “I love talking to you.”

“We shall have to do it again soon, then,” Astravia assured her, making her smile and then close her sleepy eyes.

A couple hours passed and Rhona was deep asleep when her leg twitched inexplicably. There was a brief pause and then an arm and leg twitched again, her head flipped to one side, then the other and then suddenly her eyes jutted open and she screamed. She began kicking wildly as though she were running, waving her hands as though she were fighting off an attacker and she screamed in horror as she kicked and fought and flopped with such force that she fell out of her bed and onto the stone floor with a slap and a crack.

The pain of this crash only stoked her fears more and she screamed even louder and a moment later, Maceo was bursting in the door with Elaheh not far behind. A moment later the rest of their party arrived and watched with concern as Maceo grabbed her arms and pulled them around her body and close to him, hugging her and speaking softly into her ear while Elaheh ran in front of her and did her best to pet and soothe her until she was calm enough to look at her dim surroundings while Gaeten set up a few candles to light the room.

“What happened?” one teen asked, only to be waved away emphatically by Elaheh as Rhona searched the room with her eyes frantically while wheezing for air.

Once she was under control, Maceo began loosening his grip, but he still continued to hug her and speak softly into her ear. “It’s okay. We’re here. We’ve got you,” he promised her.

A moment later, Rhona was crying, but thoroughly confused by the tears flowing out of her eyes, wiping them and looking at them as though they were completely alien.

Gaeten had the teens fetch washcloths, towels and warm water while he pulled some pillows and wrapped a fresh blanket around her.

“It was just a nightmare,” Elaheh promised her.

“A what?” Rhona asked, both concerned as well as confused.

“It’s probably been a while,” Maceo reassured her. “But it’ll be okay. You’re safe.”

“No,” she denied, shaking her head at him. “No… I..” she then wiped more tears from her eyes, staring at them with growing concern.

It was a while before she was calm enough for Maceo to pick her up and place her on the bed. He and Elaheh stayed close by soothing her while the two teen girls wiped her face, neck, collarbone and arms with warm water and Maceo used a spell to help calm her frayed nerves.

“Only children have nightmares,” she said to them in disbelief.

“I’m not a child,” one teen said to her somewhat defensively.

“More of a child than her,” one of the girls quipped back at him. He scowled at her and she stuck her tongue out at him.

“It was just a nightmare. It’s alright,” Elaheh assured her again. “It must have been terrible.”

They did their best, but ultimately her nerves seemed inconsolable and finally she turned to Gaeten and looked at him, crying heavily again at him. “I was a sorceress,” she told him, her voice shaking and wavering with each syllable. “I was with the guild of sorcery and my job was to find high value targets and bend them to our will.”

The five teens all were taken aback, while Gaeten was more disappointed.

“They kidnapped her as a girl and trained her,” Maceo explained.

“We’ve been staying here with a wolf in our midst,” Gaeten said quite sternly to Maceo.

“I went through the town entrance and I ignored the warnings,” she sobbed to him, confessing to them all. “They sent me to find Maceo and learn where he got his magic. I was supposed to use any means necessary. But I’m powerless now. Everything. It’s all gone. I even lost the spells that fixed my body.”

“The guild did horrible things to her,” Elaheh explained. “Most of them we don’t even know. We’re trying to heal her.”

“And if she slits one of our throats in the night?”

“She’s not that scary,” a teen boasted. “I could take her. Especially if she’s powerless.”

“A toothless wolf still has claws,” Gaeten lectured Maceo again.

“She was never a wolf,” Maceo told him. “And you’ve seen her work with me for days now. You know she’s not a threat.”

“But I am,” she told them all. “That was my dream. I was a monster and other monsters were telling me to destroy everyone else.”

“I’ll talk to them,” Maceo agreed and left Elaheh to comfort Rhona while he spoke to the other six outside where he answered all of their questions about her and where she’d come from.

“She was going to kill you?” Cajsa asked, dumbstruck.

“I had it under control,” Maceo promised her. He then gave them a brief overview of her challenges and the choices he was left with, ending with the question of what the town would do if they knew.

“They’d burn her at the stake,” Gaeten admitted freely. “And for good reason. I may not believe all the boogeyman stories about the guild of sorcery, but I also know that if you have one in your midst, you should kill it.”

“Her,” Maceo corrected. “She’d clipped her own wings without even knowing it. You really expect me to kill her when she’s defenseless like that? Besides, originally I’d hoped to negotiate some kind of truce with them.”

“Or you could have killed her and saved us the trouble of the guild learning about the barrier and finding a way around it.”

“The barrier is beyond their abilities,” Maceo explained. “Even if they had centuries, they’d still only find a way around it through dumb luck, if at all.”

“When I was a lad, I watched a cousin twisted into some fowl half beast in front of my eyes by a sorcerer,” Gaeten informed Maceo. “All because he was rude. They aren’t people.”

Maceo then went on to explain her history and how she’d been stolen, like most of the members of the guild. “Only a small number are cruel enough to come to them willingly. The rest need to be forced into it. They have to be trained and brainwashed into it.”

“So you’re telling me that they beat it into her until it was in her blood,” Gaeten accused.

“What if whatever they did to her makes her kill us in our sleep?” one teen asked.

“She’s a sorceress. How can we let her live?” another asked.

“Enough,” Maceo told them boldly. “She’s my responsibility and I’m not going to abandon her. I’ll tell you exactly what I told Usha,” he said, surprising everyone that the elders were already aware of the issue. “If you reject her, then you reject me. Her wings have been clipped. You’re not gong to convince me to start kicking her too. I’m doing this with or without you. If that’s a problem, we can part ways, no ill will.”

They were all stunned, but a couple of the teenagers began arguing again until they could hear Elaheh from behind them say, “the same goes for me.”

They all turned to see Rhona standing against the doorframe staring at them tearfully and sheepishly and Elaheh standing behind her with her hand on her shoulder following an attempt to pull her back into the room.

“She’s not a lost puppy, Elaheh. She’s a sorceress,” one teen warned her.

“Not anymore,” Elaheh answered back.

“This isn’t a fantasy, Elaheh,” Gaeten lectured her. “Not everyone in this world is full of warm feelings. You heard her. She was dreaming of killing us.”

“And that dream woke her up screaming in terror,” Elaheh answered. “Does that sound like someone who hates you?”

“I’ve seen the look in sorcerers’ eyes. I don’t see hate in them. I don’t see anything. Just coldness and black,” Gaeten told her.

“We’re going to help her,” Elaheh told him stubbornly. “If it bothers you that much, then we’ll go to the other wing. If that’s not good enough, then we’ll leave.”

“And your fiancé? How will he feel about all this?”

“He’ll accept it or he doesn’t really love me,” Elaheh told him sternly. “I am doing this.”

“The world is a dangerous place,” he warned them both. “There are people in it that will just as soon slit your throat than leave you to your own business. You can’t heap your ideals on the rest of the world.”

“The world never becomes that kind of place until we expect it of ourselves,” Elaheh answered back sternly. “Make your choice. Do you want us to leave, or not.” She then pulled a very distraught Rhona back, but she clung to the door as though she had something to say. The group all turned to look at her and she struggled before blurting her thoughts out.

“You’re right about what you say about us. I haven’t felt things like you do since I was a little girl. It’s like there are huge holes inside of me. But if I had my powers still right now… I’d go down the mountain and I’d wipe all of the bandits out so you never had to deal with them again.”

“And why would you do that?” Gaeten challenged her.

“Because you were kind to me. The guild did a lot of things for me, but they never did that,” she answered and then let Elaheh pull her back into her room, leaving them with their thoughts.

“Do you know how dangerous she is? Even with clipped wings?”

“More than anyone,” Maceo answered him. “But she also knows how dangerous I am.”

“How dangerous is that?” a teen asked him.

“Dangerous enough that I could take out all the bandits alone, before they knew what hit them,” he boasted. “But if I did that, it would just spark another problem, and another and another and another. Pouring all your power and might into things doesn’t usually turn out the way you would want things to turn out. Power is more of a curse than a blessing. The more you have, the worse the curse. You know this. You can only do simple illusions, but how many people are wary of you now who used to look down on you? I’m helping her because I understand what she is living with, and also what she’s lost.”

They all stood there absorbing everything that had been said. “I’m with Maceo,” Cajsa told them all.

“Of course you are,” the other girl snapped bitterly.

“So am I,” the teen with the heart problems agreed.

“Alright, alright,” Gaeten warned, waving them all back. “This isn’t a black and white issue. We don’t have to draw lines in the sand. Let’s try to help the lass calm down and we can deal with this with clearer heads in the morning.”

“The ladies should all help Rhona freshen up, if you’re up to it. Take her to the baths and give her a good shower, then give her a hot bath to try to help her relax. Once she’s dried, hopefully she can get some sleep again.”

“And the men?” a teen asked him.

“Have no business seeing a woman naked let alone four at once. Stay in your rooms and leave them the hell alone unless they come to you for something,” Maceo answered him firmly, making a couple of them blush. They all looked around at each other then one of the teens looked to Cajsa.

“You can come to ask me for help if you want,” he suggested, blushing to her.

“You wish,” the other girl hissed back and grabbed Cajsa, storming off.

“Well, you heard him boys. Back inside and if you really feel something, I suggest you take care of it yourselves,” Gaeten laughed and pushed them along.

Once Maceo was left alone in the corridor, he turned toward his own room only to find a little orb of light at the dark end that zipped off in the direction of the other wing. He followed it and walked up to Astravia’s chamber and unlocked the door, finding Astravia sitting on the floor in the middle of the room, sipping on tea.

“Well, you were right,” he told her.

“I am a goddess,” she answered, self assured, and waved him over. He sat beside her and she poured him some tea. “I believe you have a good grasp of the circumstances, but I would like to hear what you feel you’ve uncovered as you’ve worked with her.

“She has no moral compass,” Maceo answered her and lowered his head as he nodded to him. “Right now, she’s neither evil or good. But she has a past of doing indescribably evil things. So it’s a battle. Can we create that moral compass and can we do it without pouring our whole lives into it?”

“Succinct, but accurate,” she agreed.

“Did you speak to her again? Is that why you’re here?”

“I was curious how she was. When I arrived I realized something was afoot.”

“Have you been helping her?”

“Only in the smallest way. I warned her of what was to come, and she is only vaguely aware of it even after I told her. I do not plan to intervene unless I have to. We are coming to a crossroads, though, my dearest Maceo. I cannot bring her back to the temple. It must remain empty until I am ready to reveal myself again, and she is not pure enough to be trusted with this secret. Her life will always be a battle from this point on. Killing her may have been more merciful.”

“What do you want?” Maceo asked, emphasizing her in the question.

“I want you to come home. Our time together will be so short and I do not wish to waste it. However, these are your kind. Perhaps I am simply being selfish.”

“I think you’ve earned a bit of selfishness,” he teased her. She smiled and reached down to the mere six-foot tall mortal, taking his hand. “What do I do? You said she’s my charge. I’m responsible for her.”

“I suppose in a limited way, it is not altogether different from what I live with,” she answered him.

“Her emotions have reawakened, and they’ll only get more intense from here. She doesn’t know how to handle them anymore, other than the ones she found a way to hide all this time.”

“So what will you do?” Astravia asked.

Maceo thought hard and then looked up at her. “I can project my memories, how far am I from being able to project my thoughts?”

“Not far,” she answered. “There are some books below to help you learn that. I suggest you practice first, however. What do you have in mind?”

“It’s like being thrown into a world full of viruses and bacteria without ever building an immune system. A mother normally provides that immunity when a baby is born with her milk.”

“She is far too old to benefit from a mother’s milk.”

“Elaheh and I will lend her what we can of our thoughts. She’ll have to live some of our intense moments and hopefully we can give her enough of a jump-start that she’ll be able to focus on her own. But the most important thing is finding that moral compass. Without it, she’s lost.”

“Be careful which experiences you choose. Much of your early trauma would be devastating for her.” He nodded to her and sighed.

“Will you stay the night? Let me study with you outside of time? I could really use your advice.”

She smiled and laughed a little to herself. “I can do that,” she said sweetly to him. “But I require something in return.”

“Anything you want,” Maceo promised her.

“This talk of a mother’s milk has reminded me I have not nursed in far too long,” she grinned at him and then rolled over him, pulling her right breast out and pressing her nipple against his mouth as she rolled over him.

“I do love your breasts,” he told her whimsically as he pressed his lips against her nipple and began to suck on it.

Some time later, he was walking down the corridor and entered the library there to find the books that Astravia had mentioned. He was in the middle of perusing one when he heard a noise and turned to see Rhona and Elaheh standing together in soft robes, their hair still drying from the baths. “I was hoping you were both back asleep by now,” he told them.

“I was worried about you,” Rhona told him with a concerned face.

“Why?” he asked her.

“Because… are you mad at me? I shouldn’t have told them.”

“That was your choice,” he told her with a smile. “You were right to be nervous about it.”

“But now… you’re… can you even go home?” she asked both Elaheh and Maceo.

“It’ll be fine.”

“I don’t even know what the hell is wrong with me? Why would I even do that?” she asked. Maceo smiled and waved them both in to comfortable seats and lit a fireplace to keep them warm.

“The dulled portions of your mind have finally woken up. Something in your sleep must have gotten them moving again. This is what we wanted to happen, just not quite like this.”

“So what do we do now?” she asked. Rhona was clearly uncomfortable with how much more unstable her mind was feeling and how unconfident she was with her own decisions.

“I’m working on it. I may have something that Elaheh and I can do to help you.”

“For the first time, I feel like I should have just left it alone at losing my magic,” Rhona complained. Elaheh leaned over and hugged her tightly.

“It’s gonna be a hard road,” Maceo told her.
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CKent45
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Fri Jun 24, 2022 3:09 am

The next morning, Maceo was up despite the lack of sleep and studying hard in the library when Gaeten found him.

“You get any sleep last night?” he asked.

“Some,” Maceo answered back.

“Like I said, the boogeyman stories may not be true, but the guild are not something you want in your life.”

“Like it or not, she’s in our life now.”

“You could have told me.”

“Wasn’t my choice to make.”

“What’s your game, then lad?”

“I’m not actually good at deceiving people or lying. Games aren’t really my thing.”

“But I’m not following what you’re up to.”

“Pretty much just what I said. She’s a former sorceress, stripped of her power, which made her completely useless to the guild and basically easy to throw away and when I broke her bond with them that made her a target. And then there’s all the damage done to her mentally.”

“And you think you can trust her.”

“Trust is earned,” Maceo answered with an eerie calmness. Gaeten scrutinized him and sat beside him as he flipped through his book.

“There’s something different about you lately. Care to talk to me?”

“Kind of like Rhona, I’m having a bit of trouble with that lately.” Gaeten remained silent until Maceo turned and looked at him. “Something feels different. I’d say I can see things, but that’s not really it. And it’s not really feeling, either. But I’ll just call it see. I can’t see details, but it’s like I can see all of the past she drags with her, and it’s every bit as dark as you’re worried. I can’t say you’re wrong, but that’s not going to change my mind.”

“Cajsa is a bit heartbroken. She thinks you and this lady…”

“No,” Maceo laughed. “She’s actually in the way of me getting anything like that,” he told him.

“So you admit I don’t have a reason to trust her, you admit she’s every bit as dangerous as I’m worried about, but you still want us to look after her like she’s an abandoned baby bunny, and don’t play any semantics games, lad. Why else would you have insisted on dragging us with you on this excursion?”

“I was hoping,” Maceo admitted. “I definitely don’t expect it. Her past has to stay her own.”

“And her magic?”

“I’m researching how to restore it. I haven’t decided if I will, and even if I do, it’s more likely I can’t.”

“So you’d be giving this wolf back her teeth.”

“Gaeten, how was your business before we met?”

“Same as most, I suppose. I was getting by.”

“The town was on a downhill slide when I met you all.” He nodded in agreement. “So it’s no secret anymore that when it comes to beliefs, I fall in line with Astravia.”

“Aye, and apparently your former girlfriend does as well,” he said. Maceo looked at him and Gaeten shook his head. “I’ve noticed some things. With her mother and grandmother as well. So what is this? More second chances?”

“Imagine you’re walking on a path around a cliff and up ahead of you, you see someone walking a similar one above you, only they’re falling off of it. It’s not like you have a lot of room to work with; you can fall off too, but what do you do? Do you just let them fall when you’re within reach?”

“I think most would let them fall,” Gaeten answered. Maceo nodded.

“I don’t think I blame them.”

“So then? Both of you two could easily end up being dragged down with her.” Maceo set his book down and checked out the corridor to make certain they were alone before continuing.

“Gaeten, you’re respected. What are the odds of you being selected as an elder one day?”

“Not something I think about much.”

“Let me tell you more about what I’ve learned about the history of the guild of sorcery,” he said and then went on to give Gaeten an abbreviated version of the story he’d seen to date. Interestingly, Gaeten was unsurprised by anything that he was told.

“So you know what that means she’s been up to all this time.”

“Yeah,” Maceo nodded. “I see something in her. When she realized her magic was gone, I thought she’d keep attacking, but instead it was like something was broken inside of her. Instead of lashing out, she begged. She didn’t even care if she lived any longer, she just didn’t want to lose that part of herself. It seemed like the right thing to do was to see if she could reclaim what she’d lost. I mean what she’d really lost, not just some random tricks and spells.”

“Most aren’t up for that kind of challenge.”

“I know. I wanna be surprised, though,” he said. Gaeten shook his head and put his head in his hands. “Something’s wrong with this world. Can you feel it? I think a lot of it revolves around the guild. Elaheh said something last night that locked it into place for me. The world never becomes that kind of place like she talked about until we expect it of ourselves. I stand to lose quite a bit if I go forward with this. Lost friends, lost business deals, and much more than that, and before she said that, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was that was driving me. This is why I have to push forward on this. People say choose your battles, and that’s true. It’s even wise, but how many battles do we lose because we never bother to fight them? It hit me last night that if I don’t have the resolve to do this, then I won’t have the resolve to do anything else. I might fail. It’s probably likely I’ll fail, but so what? Fail or succeed, I still fought. If I leave her to her fate, I don’t fight. I do nothing.”

“This I can get behind,” Gaeten nodded. “Alright, and if it goes sideways?”

“There are contingencies.”

“And those are?”

“Things outside of your control.”

“Alright, lad. What do you want me to do?”

“Learn from her,” Maceo said. “Ask her about magic. She may be cut off from it, but she has a wealth of knowledge. You don’t have to be her friend, but if you could let her feel useful, I’d really appreciate it.”

When Gaeten was gone, Maceo went back to studying and then sat up rigidly when he realized there was a presence there with him. He turned and looked up at the fifteen-foot tall goddess staring down at him. She knelt down, smiling and wrapped her arms around him and he noticed that the flames beside him seemed to freeze in place.

“So you feel that if you leave her to her fate, you are certain to lose me?” she asked him.

“I’m certain I’ll fail you,” he told her.

“There is wisdom in this,” she admitted. “But you realize you are very close to this becoming something that will consume you.”

“Very much.”

“Well, let us see about this theory of yours,” she said, pulling him up and setting him on her lap while they thumbed through the pages he was studying and discussing it in detail.

He spent what would have otherwise been nearly a day outside of time with her, were it not for the fact that time had stopped all around them before he finally felt he’d mastered what he needed to. She smiled and left him. “Are you going home?” he asked, yawning as she headed to the door.

“I believe I will stay. I do enjoy the view up here.” She then seemed to vanish as he turned back to his book.

Some time later, he was awakened to someone shaking his shoulder and he turned to see Elaheh standing over him. “Did you get any sleep last night?” she asked with much concern.

“I thought so,” he laughed at her. “What’s the matter?”

“I’m just a little overwhelmed,” she admitted. “Rhona is… having trouble.”

“How so?”

“She was fine this morning, and she even helped with chores, but in the middle of it… she just had a complete meltdown. We helped her back to her room and after a little while, she was fine, but then she completely broke down again. A few minutes later, she was laughing hysterically. I don’t know what to do with her.”

“She’s got less than half of the portions of her mind that were being suppressed back and working, but she doesn’t know how to use them anymore. She’s going to be unstable.”

“So what do we do?”

“That’s what I’ve been working on,” he told her and then shared his plans with her.

“So she’s going to have my memories?”

“A little. It’s more trying to work with our own mental muscles and try to share them with her. We actually go through what she’s going through several times a day, it’s just that we have enough strength in our minds to keep it from going as far as it does for her.”

“How many of my memories is she going to get?”

“Only ones you actively think of. I’d like you to focus on happier ones, though. The mind tends to go where we point it to, and if we give her too many difficult memories, that’s where she’ll go. It seems counterintuitive, since it’s the negative emotions she’s having the most trouble with.”

“No, that makes sense,” she agreed.

Later that day, Maceo and Elaheh were ready to proceed and went to Rhona and brought her back to the library. “You’ll remove another layer, right?” she asked them both. Maceo was a little concerned at her question and looked to Elaheh, who only shrugged her shoulders at him.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” he cautioned her.

“Please, you said we’d do more today,” she begged, even going so far as to get on her knees.

“Rhona, I don’t want to push you too hard,” Maceo warned her.

“I feel like I’ve been drowning,” she told him. “I feel like I’m choking but it doesn’t get any better until I get all of the water out of me!”

Maceo again looked to Elaheh, who still had no advice for him. Astravia was sitting in her quarters not far from there, staring into another globe that resided in that room. “That was not exactly what I meant,” she said, shaking her head. “I did not expect that analogy to surface to her conscious level.”

Rhona begged and begged, and eventually Maceo, who was looking all around him for signs to the contrary, finally gave in and agreed. “Rhona, you’re already barely managing like this,” Elaheh pointed out, but Rhona only shrugged her away.

This time when Maceo finished clearing another layer of her mind, Rhona felt the effects immediately and alternated between intense anger, hilarious laughter, bitter tears and exhausted apathy. She spent over an hour cycling through most emotions imaginable before Maceo and Elaheh were able to calm her enough to begin their first attempt and Maceo sat them both back to back while he asked Elaheh to focus on early childhood memories that were very happy. At that specific moment, Rhona was steaming with anger until Maceo managed to establish a connection and suddenly Rhona’s jaw dropped as Elaheh shared an early memory with her playing with her now fiancé.

Then she began shifting into a fit of giggles and grins, covering her mouth over and over as she did her best to control the wave of good feelings. They tried several times, focusing on moments of peace and tranquility, moments of joy, moments of togetherness as Rhona finally began to settle in and apparently became stable.

Elaheh and he then switched places, allowing Maceo to start off with his moments leading up to his ascent on the hillside behind the temple, stopping before his encounter with Astravia, then diving back further and further into his past, sharing with her stories with his other siblings and father while she leaned back against him, smiling and nuzzling him a little from behind. In the end, she became exhausted and fell asleep in the middle of another story Elaheh shared as she recalled it for Rhona.

Rhona slept almost to dinnertime and awoke with her head lying on Elaheh’s lap and turned to look up at her. Elaheh smiled down sweetly to her while Maceo looked up from the book he was reading.

“Why are you doing this for me?” Rhona asked her, and then turned to Maceo. Her expression was forlorn.

“Because we are. Does there have to be a reason?” Elaheh asked her. Rhona seemed conflicted, but otherwise didn’t question her as Maceo gathered them up and took them to dinner with the others.

There, they were all relieved to see Rhona in a much better and somewhat more stable mood, though they did look at each other smirking when one would make a joke and Rhona would erupt in uncontrollable laughter, repeatedly covering her mouth in a vain attempt to stop her giggle fits. Things got even worse when her laughter began to become contagious and Maceo stood near the doorway watching them from a distance with a slight smile on his face.

That evening, when all were asleep, Astravia returned to Rhona’s room once more and sighed, shaking her head and bracing herself for what was about to come. Then she began shrinking down from fifteen feet, to ten, seven, five and slowing at her petite 4’10” before entering the room and looking at Rhona lying in bed, not quite as peacefully as the last time she’d visited.

She took her chair again and sat as Rhona began receding underneath the covers once more, down to four feet tall, and finally three feet tall. “I would like you to dream of another conversation with me,” Astravia requested politely and a moment later, Rhona’s eyes once again drifted open until they met with Astravia’s.

“Hello again,” she greeted politely.

“Hi,” Rhona answered back meekly and suddenly tears began forming in her eyes.

“You seem sad this evening,” Astravia said, forgoing asking her to come sit with her in conversation. Rhona looked up and around the room, noting how large everything was and how heavy her covers were.

“I’m tiny,” she realized, almost as if it were for the first time. Astravia opened her mouth to reply, but Rhona cut her off. “Make me smaller,” she said, though it felt much more like a plea than a command.

“You’ve not enjoyed being very small in the past.”

“Please,” Rhona begged, now crying.

“Very well,” Astravia agreed and gradually, Rhona began shrinking down to about two thirds of her current height.

“Smaller,” she begged again. Astravia raised an eyebrow, but did as asked, stopping her at about a foot and a half. “Less,” she begged again. “Less, less, less!” she begged until she was a mere six inches tall, but still begged to be smaller.

“I think that is enough,” Astravia said and raised an eyebrow when Rhona suddenly pushed herself up and crawled forward, scampering underneath her pillow and hiding there. Astravia waited for a moment, then stood and lifted the edge of the pillow to find Rhona lying there, curled in a ball and crying to herself. “Rhona, what is the matter?”

“I’m tiny,” she whispered.

“Yes, but you asked to be so,” Astravia pointed out. “Won’t you come out and speak with me?”

“Only if you make me smaller,” she begged. Astravia frowned at her, but decided to play along. Then Rhona looked around her with a startled expression as her body began to recede again, stopping at four inches in height.

“That is the last time. Now you promised me,” she pointed out. Rhona nodded and crawled out from underneath the pillow that was nearly the size of a house compared to her now, then lowered her head as Astravia gently scooped her up and sat her on the edge of the bed. The tiny four inch tall woman now sat with her head hanging low as Astravia reached down with a fingertip as large as her face and wiped a tear from her cheek. “This is not like you. I am concerned,” she told the tiny lady. “What has happened?”

“I don’t know,” came the familiar reply, and then she winced as Astravia gently placed her fingernail underneath her chin to lift her head up. “I’m feeling things,” she told her in an uneven voice. Astravia nodded and encouraged her to go on. “I understand now,” she said, wiping more tears away. “I understand why Maceo wouldn’t like the man that raped those little girls.”

“And why is that?”

“Because… I don’t know how to explain it. But I can feel it,” she said, pounding her chest with her hand. “They can’t protect themselves, and they… they don’t hurt anyone, but it hurts them sooo bad… I… never knew how much it hurt when I was raped, but now, it’s like this constant clawing on my skin and it hurts so bad. And I deserve it!” she hissed at herself emphatically. “I deserve it!”

“And why do you feel you deserve it?”

“I didn’t think you would come back,” Rhona told her, weeping again. “I was so relieved when I saw you because you can make me what I really am.”

“And what is that?”

“Tiny, and useless and insignificant and USELESS!” she answered with a tiny rage. “I belong like this! I belong smaller! Make me so small no one will ever see me again!”

“And what will you do then?”

“Curl up and hide until I die,” she answered. “I wish I had my magic so I-I could kill myself,” she complained, and then looked at the precipitous fall in front of her, and her eyes went wide, as though she’d just realized something. Then she pushed off the side of the bed with her hands and feet and dove headfirst for the ground, only saved because Astravia dove in after her and caught her, setting her back on the bed carefully. “No! Let me! Let me!! I deserve it!”

“Why do you think you deserve to die, Rhona?” Astravia asked her.

“B-because I’m-m w-worse than that man! I did things so much worse! I’ve killed people, and tortured them, and cut parts off of their bodies and buried them alive and destroyed families and… and… I can’t even count the things I’ve done,” she confessed, crying and sobbing. “And they keep trying to help me, but why? They should throw me off the mountain! There’s a balcony upstairs, but it’s locked. If I could just get up there, I could jump from there…”

“Rhona,” Astravia said abruptly and sternly, stopping Rhona’s rant cold. The four inch tall woman stared up at the towering giantess who now leaned closer and spoke very gently to her. “I love our conversations together, Rhona. If you died, you would take them from me. Is that what you want? Do you wish to take these wonderful moments I enjoy with you away?”

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” she denied in a panic. “I don’t want to hurt you too!”

“Well, then stay with me. Talk with me.”

“I missed you,” Rhona whimpered up to the giantess, who again extended a fingertip the size of her face to wipe the tears from it. “But I tr-ried to hurt him too. And I’m supposed to kill her… it’s like there is a voice hiding there, telling me to kill her, but she’s so kind! She’s kind like you, and I keep thinking of hurting her!”

“You’ve developed a conscience,” Astravia informed her proudly. “Very good,” she praised. “This voice,” she said, “is it this?” she asked and suddenly a dark shadowy figure appeared, looming over the tiny woman, a figure larger than Astravia herself.

“Yes,” she answered, covering her ears and with a wave of Astravia’s hand, the whispering figure was wisped away like a gentle breeze. Rhona looked up and around herself, stunned to be free of this demon.

“Why did you not listen to him before?” she asked Rhona. “He’s been speaking to you constantly.”

“Non stop. He never stops,” she admitted.

“So why did you not listen to him?”

“At first? Maceo was too strong, and I was so weak. But then I realized Maceo could replace him. I could follow Maceo, and Maceo wouldn’t kill me because… he should have, but he didn’t kill me! But then I was alone with Elaheh and she seemed so… something was different. The voice was still there and louder and louder, but…I didn’t want to kill her. I don’t know why. I was supposed to. She’s a follower of Astravia. If there is a high priestess… We can’t allow that. But I didn’t want to,” she concluded, whimpering and her lips quivering.

“You do not have to,” Astravia told her. “And I do not want you to either. Elaheh is very special to me as well.”

“You know her?” she asked, her voice filled with the wonder of a child.

“I do. This voice is gone. He will trouble you no longer. But the other voices you must silence yourself.”

“How?”

Astravia smiled at her and sat up and suddenly Rhona began expanding again, much more quickly this time and stopping at her customary three feet tall. Rhona looked around herself nervously until Astravia placed a hand against her cheek and convinced Rhona to focus on her. “You must grow stronger. These voices were placed in you, and they have been telling you what to do most of your life. They are spells, curses used to control agents of the guild of sorcerers and seeds that have been woven into your own mind and soul. If I remove them, your soul will be tattered and damaged. You must grow strong enough that your own voice drowns them out and when it does, they will fade. They will never fully go away, but they will become what they have done to you- suppressed and crushed and unable to breath.”

“Do they deserve to be hurt too?” Astravia’s smile widened into a grin.

“We do not suppress them because we enjoy it. We suppress them because that is the only way they can exist without destroying all we hold dear. But unlike when they suppress us and we feel like we are drowning, when they are suppressed, the warmth in our hearts fills them as well. We may do what they do to us, but they will get something wonderful from us when we do so. Do not hate these voices, and do not resent them. That will lead you back to them controlling you again.”

“I understand,” Rhona said, staring over to Astravia and the pain in her eyes gone now.

“We have finally found you my dear,” Astravia proclaimed to her with a happy smile, and then wrapped her arms around the smaller woman and pulled her onto her lap, squeezing and hugging her. “You have no idea how happy Maceo and Elaheh will be to have found you as well.”

“But I deserve…” she protested only to have Astravia’s finger press her lips.

“You are needed, my sweet one. What you have done will not go away, but you are needed. You wish to know why they help you? It is because they need you. Will you leave them in need?”

“No,” Rhona answered her, finally relaxing and hugging the 4’10” giantess back.

“But still, I don’t deserve…” she began again and Astravia pushed the half sized woman back and looked her in her eyes.

“Deserve, deserve, deserve, deserve,” she laughed and mocked. “The people who you have hurt did not deserve what was done to them but you also did not deserve to be kidnapped and brainwashed for years. Deserve does not carry the weight you think it does. Look for people who are like your friends and give them what you think they deserve. Forget about all the others for now.”

“Okay,” Rhona agreed.

“Now, you have other dreams to get to.” With that, Astravia carried Rhona back to the bed and set her down, pulling the covers over her just as they had been before Astravia had begun speaking to her. “Stay on this path,” Astravia instructed her. “If you surge ahead as I have told you and do not look back, you will have your magic returned to you,” she promised. Rhona’s eyes went wide at this promise and then she squeaked excitedly as her body suddenly expanded out again to her normal height. “Good night, Rhona,” Astravia said and then kissed the woman on her forehead before she closed her eyes and drifted off to other dreams.

The next day, Rhona was up early walking around the chapel when she spotted Maceo walking down a corridor to the library. She followed him from a distance and then peaked around the doorframe when he walked inside and began looking through books, searching for something new.

“I’m sorry. I’d hoped you would have had more opportunity to study while we were here.”

“Are we leaving?” she asked him, now stepping inside and timidly walking up to him.

“We’ll stay one more day,” he told her. “You’re coming along better than I’d hoped, but I think you’ll find that you’ve still just begun this journey.”

“What happens… when we go back?”

“The magicians will keep your secret for now. The elders know that crossing you is also crossing me. I have work to do, so I’ll have to leave as soon as I’ve dropped you off, but I’ll be back soon.” She nodded and sat down with him, as he opened a book. When he looked up at her, she dodged his eyes and stared down at his book again until he began reading again. She sat with him like this, mostly watching him until he picked a book for her and they sat reading together, though she seemed nearly as focused on him as the book.

Some time later, Elaheh arrived and joined them at their table after returning a book she’d borrowed herself. She sat next to Rhona, hugging her as she sat down and making Rhona blush.

“You’re gaining control so quickly now,” Elaheh praised her.

“She’s not,” Maceo corrected her, grabbing both of their attention. “She’s copying what the guild did to her, and she’s suppressing the emotions herself now.”

“How did you know?” Rhona gasped at him.

“It’s too soon, for one. Also, because your energy is all over the place.”

“The others don’t like me showing off how strong I feel,” she told them both.

“They’re just having a hard time understanding what you’re going through,” Elaheh assured her.

“I can remember things about you like they were my own memories,” she told them both.

“Comes with the territory,” Maceo answered nonchalantly as he flipped pages.

“Does that bother you? Me knowing personal things about you like that?”

“No,” Elaheh shared with her and squeezed her hand. “I like that I could give you a part of myself and it helped you.” Rhona was touched by their generosity and smiled for a moment before looking up at them.

“I’ve done horrible things in my life. Things so bad that they make me want to throw up.”

“I know,” Maceo answered her, still reading.

“No you don’t. You don’t know how bad the things were that I’ve done.”

“What matters are the things you’re going to do,” Elaheh told her. Rhona protested again, but Maceo cut her off.

“There’s a reason we’re not talking about it,” Maceo told her. And it’s not because we’re afraid to. We’re going to build the foundation of your emotional strength on positive feelings instead of building up barriers to control the negative ones. There’ll be time later to discuss the bad.”

“For now, we’re happy you’re here with us. We’d like it if you could feel the same,” Elaheh concluded.

They studied together for a while and then Maceo and Rhona left to join the magicians to help teach more about their potion making skills, with Rhona leading this time. This went on until lunch, when they all ate as a group together and afterward, Maceo sat with Cajsa catching up and laughing with her when Rhona approached them as they sat in the sanctuary wanting to know what else she could be working on.

“You can spend some time with us,” Maceo told her, taking her hand and pulling her down to sit with him and Cajsa.

The rest of the day went as well as could be hoped for. Rhona did her very best but found herself exhausted emotionally easily and quickly. When this happened, Elaheh or Maceo would take breaks in their work to sit with her and console her until Rhona had a break down just before dinner and Cajsa came along with Maceo to sit with her, showing quite a bit of compassion and surprising Rhona quite a bit.

Following dinner, which Rhona had mostly by herself, Cajsa now began to take a more active interest in Rhona’s well being, giving Maceo an opportunity to focus more on his own studies as the evening went on and then later that night, Cajsa actually sat and watched as Elaheh and Maceo both shared more of their memories in an attempt to help boost Rhona’s emotional defenses. Once again, Rhona found herself surprised as Cajsa volunteered herself as well, though she found herself mentally worn down enough afterwards that she needed to lie down and rest for a short while.

Once again, Cajsa stayed with her and in the middle of this nap, the other teen girl came looking for Cajsa and happened to be there when Rhona woke up, now to two girls watching over her. They talked to Rhona a little and Cajsa shared a bit how she’d helped in Rhona’s rehabilitation and then by the end of the evening, this second girl along with Gaeten were convinced to lend their own help as Maceo removed another layer suppressing her mind and added emotional defenses of their own to the mix.

That evening, Astravia returned once more and visited Rhona, stepping up to the door to her room and then gradually and fluidly shrinking down into her mortal form before entering, this time not even waiting to get in position before Rhona began shrinking as well down to a much more manageable 3 feet tall and receding to this height just as Astravia pulled her chair up and sat down.

“I would like you to dream of another conversation with me,” she told the tiny lady, who woke up momentarily after Astravia had made her request.

“Hello again,” Astravia greeted politely.

“Hi,” Rhona answered with a bashful smile.

“Would you like to chat again?” she asked the little lady who seemed all too happy to comply and nodded to her before crawling out from underneath her covers and over to Astravia, sitting on the edge of her bed. “You seem to be in a better mood tonight,” she observed.

“I am,” she answered shyly and lowered her head.

“Would you be willing to tell me what changed?”

“You warned me about something last time,” Rhona answered, trying to think back while Astravia sat poised and properly waiting for her to continue. “Oh..” she recalled slowly. “It was so hard,” she told Astravia emphatically. “You were right, I didn’t want to do it.”

“Do you feel differently now?”

“No, not really. But it’s easier now.”

“Tell me about that.”

“There are new people,” Rhona explained to her. “I can see their thoughts now. They gave them to me. They have families, and friends. Do you know what that feels like?”

“I did, once,” Astravia answered her politely.

“Oh,” Rhona answered, her face turning soft with empathy. She then clumsily pushed off from her place on the edge of the bed and into Astravia’s arms, hugging her in a touching display, which took Astravia by surprise, but she couldn’t help but smile back and hug in return, petting the half sized little lady. “You’re like me. You’re lost,” she told the goddess, hugging her harder.

“I would not say I am lost,” Astravia chuckled at the tiny woman in her arms, but Rhona only hugged her harder.

“You’re so kind. You shouldn’t have to be alone like me,” Rhona told her, squeezing even harder now.

“You certainly have changed since we first met,” Astravia laughed gently and set her back on the bed, but Rhona reached out and grabbed Astravia’s much larger hand in both of hers, which were a little more than half Astravia’s in size.

“They were so nice,” Rhona told her. “I can see them having dinner with people and when we ate dinner tonight, it was like I was living what they gave to me.”

“And how does that feel?”

“It feels… happy,” she reported with a bright smile. “I can hear new things in my head now. I think I heard them once but I can’t remember.”

“These are old parts of you awakening now,” Astravia told her. “This is how you know if it is something that was forced on you or if it is something of you that is awakening again. If it feels familiar, then it is genuine and real. If not, it is only a trick.”

“There are still tricks in me,” she reported. “I can hear them.”

“Yes, but you remember what I said about them?”

“I have to make them quiet on my own.”

“That’s right. Are they still loud?”

“Not as bad,” Rhona told her. “Can I ask you something?”

“Of course, my dear.”

“What do I do now? I’m still helpless.”

“You are not helpless, my dear. You will not need your magic the same way you used to.”

“But you said I could have it back,” she pointed out.

“If you keep moving as you are, then yes. That is some distance away yet, however. Give it time. You will first need to not feel so empty inside. And you must find ways to create good after all the evil you have done.”

“If I had my magic, I would help you too,” Rhona promised Astravia, who smirked a little at her sweet offer.

“Is that what you want? To help people?” she asked the miniature woman. Rhona nodded enthusiastically in response. “You know,” Astravia suggested to her, “just because you lost your magic does not mean that you cannot use the wealth of knowledge you have accumulated.”

“Could I?”

“Yes, you could. The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination. Do you know what the real purpose of magic is?”

“No,” she answered, shaking her head at the giant, 4’10” tall woman.

“Knowledge, my dear. It is the pursuit of knowledge. Magic is nothing more than the application of knowledge. Did you think there was no other way to apply it?”

“But how?”

“I think you know that this side of you is not suited to this type of work,” she gently lectured. Rhona lowered her head but nodded. “All I need you to do is simply remember: what you can accomplish is only as limited as your imagination. You know, I have been watching you,” she told Rhona who looked up again and nodded with a smile. “I am impressed with how strong this side of you is. I can see how it is that you have managed to preserve so much of yourself for this long. It is because this side of you is very strong.”

“Thank you,” Rhona answered her with a smile. “I think… he added more than just memories for me, didn’t he?”

“Let me look,” Astravia said, her eyes shifting to black with bright stars in the center again and touched Rhona’s forehead while she stared at the goddess with wonder. “Yes, he did,” Astravia answered her. “He very much wants you to be healthy and happy.”

“But he doesn’t want me,” she complained, lowering her head.

“I will tell you a secret,” Astravia whispered. Rhona looked up again and leaned forward eagerly. “He is very much attracted to you,” she told the little woman whose eyes lit up upon hearing this revelation. “He thinks you are beautiful and he has had more than one thought of touching you and feeling you. Did you know that he was very aroused by you when he saw you without your clothes?”

“You mean before I shrank in front of him?”

“No, my dear. He was more attracted to you AFTER you shrank. He does like large breasts, but he likes your face and eyes much better now. He really loves your freckles. He does not pursue you simply because he has another and he is deeply in love with her.”

“But there are men who have multiple wives. He could do that,” she suggested.

“Yes, there are those among your people who choose to do that, however, that will not work in his case. The woman who he is in love with requires he dedicate himself only to her.”

Rhona sat and thought for a moment. “So she only dedicates herself to him too?” she asked. Astravia suddenly sat back, stunned. It was certainly true that Maceo was the only person in her life, but that was just over the last nine years, versus the tens of millions of years she had married to Zantharan, whom she was still officially married to. It was a poignant reminder of her own roll in this deadly farce she was engaged in. “She doesn’t?” Rhona asked after a prolonged pause while Astravia was struck directly with the reality of her situation. She demanded fidelity of her mortal, while her own actions in this situation were anything but clear.

“She… is committed to being with only him for the rest of his life,” she answered with a smile, quite pleased with herself for finding a truthful out to this particular trap.

Rhona smiled and thought for a moment then grinned up at her. “He deserves to be happy,” she declared. “But…” she began, now becoming shy again.

“What is it, dear?”

“I was just… wondering… how pretty does he think I am?” Astravia was now caught with a mixture of emotions. On the one hand it was an innocent enough question, given how few people she had in her life and how traumatic a place sex had had in her view of herself until very recently. On the other hand, she was forced to delve into the competing emotions Maceo had with a romantic rival, ones she could proudly report he was quite handily keeping in check better than most mortals.

“He likes your freckles, and your beautiful red hair,” she said after more deliberation. “He loves your smile and how your eyes will smile more than your lips. He loves your inquisitive nature and your eagerness.”

“Do you think that he and I… if he didn’t have… her… that he and I…”

“It would be difficult,” Astravia answered her honestly. “You have much to catch up in order to be near his level. He would be patient enough, but I think your frustration would cause strife. At this moment, in this stage of your development, it would not work. Later, I think he would have loved you deeply, once you were ready.”

Rhona sat back and basked in this story, blushing as she thought hard about it all. “You will have much to offer,” Astravia promised her. “And if you stay on your path, there will be other opportunities for you to find one with whom you can find happiness.”

“Really?” she asked, her eyes wide.

“Really,” Astravia assured her gently.

“What about the others?” she asked thoughtfully.

Astravia again glowed due to her question. “They are a part of you now,” she told her. “You have something special of them that no one else has. It is a very special gift. No matter where you go or what you do, you will always carry them with you,” she told her.

“What about you?” she asked.

Astravia smiled and pulled Rhona onto her lap to hug. “Eventually, I will need to move on to others, but I am very proud of you. Again, another reward if you continue as you are: you will always have a part of me go with you as well.”

“Can I ask you a question?” she asked eagerly in a hushed tone.

“Of course,” she laughed.

“Should I follow Astravia?” she asked. Astravia chuckled to her and petted the little woman on her lap. “I wonder if she’s nice. I thought everyone around her was supposed to be mean, but they’re not. They’re so kind to me.”

“Perhaps they know something, then,” she suggested to Rhona. “I never tell anyone they must follow Astravia. Perhaps you should learn more about her?”

“Yeah,” she agreed in a near whisper.

“I am happy I have taken the time to get to know you, Rhona.”

“Me too,” Rhona hugged back. “It still hurts a lot, but you’re right. It’s not as hard now.”

They snuggled for a while longer before Astravia set her back in her bed and tucked her in while Rhona sat, biting her lip eagerly in anticipation of her pending growth spurt. “Now, I am going to give you something,” Astravia told her softly while petting her hair. “You are going to move on to other dreams now, but I’m going to help you move toward dreams that will help you decide what you should do going into your future. You will keep dreaming them until you wake up so that you can remember as much as possible. This will be the first time that your other side will begin to feel me directly.”

“Okay,” Rhona agreed and snuggled underneath her blanket and then she gasped with excitement as she began growing and she could feel her body and feet slide outwards.

“Good night, Rhona,” she told her and with that, Rhona quickly drifted off to chase these other dreams that Astravia had promised her.
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Sun Jun 26, 2022 3:30 am

The next day, Rhona was up early and wide-awake after a very good night’s sleep, especially compared to the nightmares from the night before. She crawled out of bed, but for the first time since meeting Astravia in her sleep, she paused and looked around the room, checking it thoroughly and looking up and down while also tactilely checking the height of the bed, nearby chairs and any other furniture as though she were unsure of their height in comparison to her own.

Once she seemed satisfied with the results, she walked down the corridor until she reached the library where Maceo was already studying before the rest of their group was up and working. “Good morning,” he greeted, as she wandered in. He then looked up at her and smiled. “How are you feeling this morning?”

“Short,” she answered back with some bitterness. Maceo laughed and shook his head at her while she took a seat beside him. “It’s not funny. I’ve spent years being five-ten,” she complained. “I can feel how short my steps are whenever I walk. I stretch my legs as far as I can and I still feel like I’m only going half as far.”

“Well, I already told you that I think the way your body looks with out augmenting it with magic does look better on you,” Maceo countered.

“I used to have boobs and I wasn’t a midget. I even had curves. I look like a child.”

“You still have boobs. And… look, I know how embarrassing breaking the bond you had with the guild was, but you still looked sexy.”

“I wish I was as sexy as your girlfriend,” she complained.

“And I wish you saw yourself for what you are,” Maceo told her, going back to studying.

“I need to ask you something,” she said, pulling his attention back again. “What do I do if the guild finds me? I’m seriously helpless.”

“For now, I’d say stay in town where the barrier will leave anyone looking to cause you trouble in the same condition you’re in. And they’ll be alone, whereas you won’t be.”

“And where am I supposed to stay?”

“I talked to a merchant who has a room for you that I’ve arranged to rent for you behind his shop.” She perked up and leaned toward him. “It’s already taken care of. If for some reason that doesn’t work out, then I’ve got two other people with spaces you can rent that are very interested in my money as well.”

“You’re paying for this?”

“Up front,” Maceo told her. “Unless for some reason that town doesn’t work out for you. I’ve been talking to the magicians though, and they seem to be taking to you just fine. You’ll at least have friends. They’re really interested in trying to convince you to help them learn more magic, though, I need you to understand that they are bound by their pacts to not go beyond illusory forms of magic. They can’t go nearly as far as you have.”

“You don’t have to do that,” she informed him, lowering her head.

“I’m choosing to do it. And I’ve already agreed to it. One way or another, you’ll have a place to stay for the next year.”

“But why? You do remember that I tried to capture you so I could interrogate you and then kill you, right?”

“That’s in the past.”

“I never even learned what the source of your magical knowledge was.”

“It’s a very old source. One that even the guild wouldn’t understand,” Maceo answered her vaguely.

“Any idea how they escaped the guild for so long?”

“The guild was aware of other societies and other than that they focused on anyone that presented publically with a knowledge of magic. There were a few that it was more of a apprentice and master type of arrangement. By this point, I think it’s safe to say that I’m the last, so the guild doesn’t exactly have that to worry about.”

“So you just had the one master?” she pressed.

“Just the one. That man down in Longsgallow was my first encounter with anyone else with magic, at least that I know of.”

“I wish I could meet her. Do you think she could restore my magic?”

“She would be extremely hesitant,” Maceo answered her. “Your history is something that is a cause for caution. I’m certain that she’d agree with me about giving you a chance to earn it back, though. Assuming that I can pull off the spells.”

“And if you can’t? Do you think she would help me?”

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” Maceo told her. “Her attitude will be more along the lines of me following through on my own promises.”

“Could you at least ask?”

“Not even willing to let me give it a try first?” Maceo asked her with a smirk. “It’s going to be a while, Rhona. I’m sorry. This is definitely going to be a challenge for me and will take time to try to do right.”

“What if the guild finds a way around the barrier? What if they have members waiting there when we get back?”

“Any magic user not dedicated to Astravia will lose their connection to magic the moment they pass through the barrier. You didn’t even feel it, did you?”

“No,” she admitted. “But I got there as quickly as I could because I heard rumors you would be in town. Anyone else who was headed there will probably take their time more since I let the guild know as soon as I was within sight of the town. What if they find a way around it?”

“They won’t. There really isn’t a safer place for you than in that town.”

“Except Astravia’s temple,” Rhona argued.

“That’s off limits,” Elaheh warned her from the door, alerting them both to her presence. “No one is allowed in the temple again until Astravia herself returns and welcomes us back.”

“But if I could get in there, there would be no way the guild could ever get me again. I’ve heard it’s larger than any city ever built. I’m sure I could find a way to get by in there if there’s that much space. There’s at least water in there if the stories are true.”

“There’s a huge lake there,” Elaheh confirmed. “But it’s off limits.”

“Besides,” Maceo added, “do you really want to live your entire life in solitude? There’s more for you back in town. Much, much more.”

“I just feel so… naked without my magic.”

“Rhona, I need you to focus on other things,” Maceo warned her. “Keep in mind that if I do manage to pull this off, your magic will be tied directly to Astravia for the rest of your life, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to forge the new connection there in the first place. And I’m certainly not going to go and do anything like that out in the woods where bandits and sorcerers could be lurking just about anywhere.”

“Have you put any thought into what you might want to do until Maceo can try?” Elaheh asked.

Rhona sat and thought for a moment. “I had a dream last night,” Rhona shared.

“Sounds cryptic,” Maceo teased her.

“It was strange,” Rhona told them. “There was a woman and she pointed me down a road, only when I started walking more and more roads began appearing and there were so many, I couldn’t decide what to choose. I just explored, and it was like there was this distant voice that I couldn’t quite make out that was urging me on.”

“But that doesn’t exactly answer my question,” Elaheh told Rhona.

“I…” she began, and then regrouped, gathering her thoughts again. “I woke up and I felt like… I wanted to do what you both do?”

“Blacksmithing?” Maceo asked her, looking through his book again.

“No!” Rhona answered back excitedly. “I want to help people,” she told them.

“But what do you want to do to make a living?” Elaheh asked her.

“Help people,” Rhona answered her as though the answer were obvious.

“Helping people doesn’t pay bills,” Maceo told her patiently, still reading.

“Do you have any idea how many people I’ve killed? Do you have any idea how many things I’ve destroyed working for the guild? I’ve even tortured people. Looking back, I can’t even believe that it was me that did it, but it was.”

“You still have to earn a living,” Maceo insisted.

“I can be a healer,” Rhona told them. This proclamation immediately caught both of their interests and Maceo looked up again from his book. “With what I learned from the guild, I can make tinctures, salves, and a whole host of other medicines. I can’t sense illnesses or injuries anymore, but I know enough that I can still make very good guesses. And I can teach the magicians. Cajsa is the only one who has full time work outside of their performances, and I can teach them. What else am I supposed to do with them? There’s only so much you can teach a person when it comes to illusory magic and then it’s all on the user’s practice and imagination. But this? I could spend a lifetime teaching them all. Between the seven of us, we could create a healing center and that would be yet another reason for people to come from all over to visit your town.”

“It’s a solid plan,” Maceo agreed. “If you do it, though, you realize you’ll never be able to go back to the kind of magic you did before, though, right? Healing magic requires a great deal of study and practice to do it right. Specializing in it is more than a full time job.”

“I think it would be bad for me to go back to the magic I used to do. I can still hear something pulling at me constantly, like voices just outside of hearing range, and I know they’re from the guild. If I use my knowledge and skills to heal people, it’s really hard for those voices to manipulate me back into my old ways again.”

“What do you mean voices?” Elaheh asked her, and in response Maceo gave a slimmed down version to her of what spells had been conducted on Rhona to help the guild manipulate her mind for their purposes.

When they were finished, Elaheh went to conduct her own studying while Maceo and Rhona left her to her own devices and assist the magicians as they wrapped up their short trip to the chapel. By late morning, they were all finished and loading their carts for the trip back as Maceo sat with Elaheh in the sanctuary conducting the rituals necessary for Elaheh to gain full access to the temple as Rhona watched from a distance, quite intrigued by Elaheh’s child like faith.

When they were finished, the trio then walked the entire facility and Elaheh checked her own access to each room, locking everything before finally loading up for the ride home. They all stopped at the library one final time, however, where Maceo removed the final layers to Rhona’s mind suppression spells and then each other member of their party participated in sharing more of their memories and emotional defenses with her, as well as some of their more vulnerable memories, these ones less pleasant than the others they focused on previously in order to give her a more thorough bulwark to help her maintain in the real world they were returning to.

They headed out mid morning and Rhona was tired enough that she slept the entire first leg of the trip back in the back of Maceo’s cart with Cajsa watching over her happily and Elaheh sitting alongside Maceo.

“I’ve been wondering,” Elaheh began, checking over her shoulder to make sure they weren’t being overheard. “Could you tell me about the missionary line you came from? The one that returned from afar that Astravia sent out?”

“There’s only so much that I know,” Maceo told her. “Most of what I was taught was about Astravia and the skills I would need. There are a lot of holes in what I know about history.”

“Tell me what you know then,” she probed. Maceo glanced at her, quickly determining she was probing for something, and that something was almost certainly not appropriate to share with her.

“Well, missionaries were sent out in eight specific directions, four to the cardinal directions, and four to the directions in between. They were explorers as much as they were missionaries and the goal was to set out and find settlements and spread word of Astravia and what she had to offer. They were sent out in groups of eight, four pairs of men and women to support each other. One of those missions was sent to the south east and across the sea where there was a whole other race of people. Word didn’t carry there regarding Astravia’s disappearance for generations, and they were already fairly self-sufficient. Eventually, pilgrims who went to the temple returned with news that Astravia was nowhere to be found at the temple and hadn’t been for a couple of centuries, and that caused a fissure in the faith of the locals. Several years after that, the descendants of the missionaries were forced to abandon their outposts because the local tribes had decided the missionaries were conmen and charlatans. By this point there were actually nearly one hundred of them as their families had spread quite a bit. A few died being forced from their homes. Half died on the journey back toward this region and a few left the group altogether. Those that made it settled back along the coast of the sea they’d traveled centuries before, but the entire ordeal all but broke their families. Eventually their lines slowly died off.”

“I’m so sorry,” Elaheh told him with undue sympathy. “So you’re the last of their line?”

“Well, you know that Astravia allows the lines to be passed along the father’s name. Unfortunately, I’m not actually part of that line. The actual line is gone now.”

“Oh. I see. So you came by this by way of your mother,” Elaheh assumed. “My great, great grandmother’s great grandmother was the first of my ancestors to answer Astravia’s call. My grandmother tells me stories about her all the time still. I’m expected to keep that history alive. We never had a line like you described. We’ve always been orphans like that.”

“Priestesses of Astravia hold a special place. There’s no shame in not having an official line of succession. Lines of succession actually benefit more from having a priestess among them than the other way around.”

Elaheh smiled a little then looked back at Rhona before looking to Maceo again. “I guess… I had just hoped,” she said with a forlorn expression.

“Hoped what?”

“All of the signs around you,” she told him. Maceo turned to look at her, not showing any understanding of her meaning. “A man who is a follower of Astravia was very rare. They were never allowed to ascend high in the ranks with Astravia, so to find a man like you… Maybe it was different before she disappeared, but even then it must have still been extremely rare. But you arrived, and I could feel the aura of her around you. So could my mother and grandmother. Then there was the river. It appeared from nowhere, just like you, and my grandmother was convinced that there was only one place it could have come from.”

“And where is that?”

“The temple. She said that the only river they knew of that had ever been discussed was the one leading into the temple, but she said it only went in. No water ever came out. For a river to just appear one day… we had thought it was another sign.”

“A sign of what?” Maceo asked, not bothering to hide that he knew full well where she was headed with her sleuthing.

“That Astravia had finally returned,” Elaheh answered him. “All of your knowledge, all of your abilities are things that this mountain hasn’t known for more than one hundred years. The magic hasn’t been seen in even longer. And for all of these things to be in one person? It’s unheard of. At least not heard of from what we know about. Of course there are thousands of records we don’t have access to inside of the temple, probably more, but someone like you probably would have been a story that wouldn’t have just faded over time. If it wasn’t for the fact that you’re a man, we would have assumed you were among Astravia’s favored, which would be impossible unless she was here herself. But, everyone knows that men are never favored by the goddess.”

Maceo gave a noncommittal smile to her as she hung her head once more, sad to have her hopes dashed. “I just want there to be a reason behind these signs. I want them to have a meaning. I want her to come back. You have no idea what I would give just to finally speak to her and make our case for what we’ve done and hopefully end our exile. And just to see the temple once. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl.”

“Well, there are meanings to everything,” Maceo comforted her. “Just because it’s not the meaning you want, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have meaning.”

“I know. We’ve just waited so long for her to come back. Our town was created from refugees of the temple nearly two hundred years ago when the high priestess of the time realized that the temple would eventually be completely abandoned unless Astravia came back to us soon. We believed for so long that it was the guild that was behind it but by the time we finally had the evidence, we couldn’t do anything about it. They’d won. Most followers of Astravia are afforded a comfortable life in the next world as long as they follow her teachings and are faithful. My ancestors, though? I know they were sent to the underworld. They knew they were going to be sent to the underworld because they went directly against Astravia’s direct edicts. My grandmother is the first generation that can safely avoid that fate because of her actions, but the others out there that are actively finding men to act as priests? The same can’t be said for them. It was a kindness offered to my great, great grandmother for finally finding the evidence they needed and separating us from the rest of them and their sins.”

“Don’t underestimate the goddess,” Maceo told her confidently. “I’m sure that the day will come when Astravia announces to the entire world that she’s returned and the temple can be repopulated. That time just isn’t now. The goddess thinks on much deeper levels than a mortal. The temple is a marvel of engineering, even greater than the chapel we’re leaving. I’m sure if there was a river going into it, eventually water would come out according to Astravia’s plan. Perhaps she has a plan of her own on when she will do this and everything you are seeing is just another step along the lines of that plan that’s unfolding around us as we speak. I’ve also heard of the elaborate gardens and how Astravia created them. To a layman, they’re just pieces of paradise in a city, but they’re intricate and designed to such detail they almost defy explanation. And they are completely regenerative, so they are still there, producing enough food for ten of your towns that’s sitting there, ripe for the taking.”

“I just wish she would come back. After so long, I’m wondering if she ever will.”

“I want you to think about something,” Maceo suggested to her. “How long has it been since one of you has brought someone completely new into Astravia’s ranks?”

Elaheh’s eyes shifted left and right, searching for the answer. “Generations. It’s the duty of her followers to have large families because we can’t trust outsiders anymore to be let in.”

“And you are responsible for that first one in generations. Think about it. The only way Rhona gets her magic back is if she follows Astravia as well. That has to be a sign, too, don’t you think?”

Elaheh turned and looked back at Rhona again and smiled, comforted by his argument. “I just don’t want the predecessors to suffer any longer than they absolutely have to in the underworld.”

“Astravia is an immortal being that exists beyond our understanding. She was here more than a thousand years ago, before the temple was even designed, she was here before our people were anything resembling what we are today. Who’s to say how long she’s been in existence at all? She’s timeless. Now, what does 500 years look like to a being like that? It’s a drop in the bucket, if even that. For all we know, the things happening right now are all in preparation for her return. She’ll come when she’s ready.”

“Can you blame me, though? Our ancestors met her and knew her. She visited us regularly. It would be nice to meet her even just once.”

“The chance to meet an actual goddess. Yeah, I can’t imagine a better opportunity than that,” Maceo agreed.

Rhona woke up shortly before they took a break to make a late lunch and for the first time actually sat in the middle of the rest of the group, who were interested in her ideas about a cooperative group dedicated to healing. As he had in past cases, Maceo sat back from a bit of a distance and watched as what he’d started took on a new dimension that was once again flowering of its own accord.

For most of the remainder of the trip back, Elaheh relaxed while Rhona and Cajsa sat with Maceo talking about Rhona’s recovery. She admitted that she was still having difficulty, but was at least able to suppress her runaway emotions.

“She’s going to need your help, and a lot of compassion,” Maceo told Cajsa.

“Well, I can have her over for dinner,” Cajsa offered.

When they finally arrived back at town, it was nearly evening and the sun was going down. Maceo was insistent on heading for home, but his companions pulled and cajoled him into staying the night out of safety due to the still roaming bands of bandits.

Interestingly enough, though, Rhona walked the entire perimeter of the town along with Maceo, Cajsa and Elaheh, they found no sign that any sorcerers had come anywhere near town, which Rhona found to be highly suspicious, though she didn’t know exactly what to make of it.

Once they’d made their rounds, Elaheh made an exit to spend an evening with an extremely jealous fiancé while Gaeten had the remainder of them over for dinner where even more discussions ensued regarding the skills that Rhona would impart upon them to further their magical ambitions but also medical knowledge, which she’d brought several tomes with for.

The group now had enough numbers that they decided they would make more regular trips to the chapel, where they could learn and train in peace. They also agreed that others would be allowed to join them on a very limited basis, at least at first and Elaheh, who made a brief appearance with her fiancé, was extremely excited to bring her mother and grandmother there to see it, and possibly become official priestesses themselves.

Later that evening, on the way back to the inn together, Rhona trudged along staring at her feet. They were almost there when Rhona stopped altogether, seemingly unable to go any further. Maceo made it a few extra steps before he turned around and needed to go back to her to discover what troubled her so greatly.

“They’re not here,” she said, neither looking up at Maceo, nor waiting for him to ask her what was bothering her.

“It doesn’t seem like it.”

“We are completely out in the open. If they were here, they would be able to see by now that I’m powerless and we’re alone and as vulnerable as we’re going to get. If it was me, I would have already attacked by now.”

“Well, you said yourself that they’re not here, then. Maybe they turned back because of the warnings.”

Rhona looked at him and then turned and walked with a purpose toward the nearest entrance to town, Maceo jogging to catch up to her. She then proceeded straight out of town and on until she was standing in a clearing, just inside the nearest woods and she waited as Maceo stood beside her, simply closing her eyes and standing as passively as she could. A short while later, she sighed again and looked up at Maceo.

“They’re not here. Something isn’t right.”

“What do you mean?” Maceo asked her.

“There should be at least half a dozen sorcerers here by now with orders to kill you and once they discovered me, I would be a priority target as well. But nothing, Maceo. The guild doesn’t operate like this.” Maceo placed his hand on her shoulder, attempting to comfort her. “Maceo… is it possible someone revoked their charter?”

“I couldn’t say,” Maceo answered her. “But if there is someone left with the ability to do that, it would mean you wouldn’t have to worry anymore. You’ll be free.”

“But who? You didn’t do it, did you? You’re favored you could do it if you wanted to.”

“I didn’t do it,” Maceo answered her. “But if they’re gone, so much the better. They’ve lived and worked from the shadows for centuries now. They can die and rot in the shadows as well, and they can fade away, never to be mentioned again for all I care.”

“They deserve it,” she agreed. “But so do I.”

“Your life is taking a different turn. No point in beating yourself over the head with that any longer. You’re going to atone, and I’m happy for you.”

The next morning, Rhona was up and in the hallway waiting for Maceo already, awake with things still on her mind, as well as new nightmares. They met Cajsa for breakfast, where Rhona confided that she’d made further decisions regarding her future, but she would only share them in front of Elaheh.

Following breakfast, Cajsa headed off to assist Gaeten while Maceo took Rhona to the merchant he’d agreed to rent space for Rhona with and they examined the room.

“It’s nice,” Rhona agreed, embarrassed by the generosity of both men. Maceo nodded and then handed the agreed upon coins to the merchant. Finally, they went back to the market where Gaeten and Cajsa were tending shop and where Elaheh was already there seeing to her errands for the day and Rhona waved her over. Once the five of them were together and had a moment of privacy, Rhona announced her latest decision.

“I’m going to study to become a priestess for Astravia,” Rhona promised. “I know that I can’t become one because of my past, at least not yet, but I’ve already decided that it’s not a mistake that two of her followers came together to help me. Whether I can ever become a priestess or not, I’m going to dedicate my life to her.”

Back in her study, Astravia was watching and smiling quite happily at Rhona’s decision.

“You’ll have a place in our home,” Elaheh promised her.

With all of their business concluded, Maceo loaded his cart and left for home, seen off by both Cajsa and Rhona, finally returning home to his beloved goddess.
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Tue Jun 28, 2022 2:46 am

Maceo finally returned to the temple at about lunch time, smiling as the massive gates opened for him in front of his eyes and a beautiful fifteen foot tall goddess glowed happily as he entered. She knelt and kissed him before he even had a chance to dismount, her giant tongue playing affectionately with his much smaller one as she released much pent up desire for her little mortal man.

“I have to go freshen up,” he told her when she allowed him a chance to breath. “I have a lot I am going to do in order to pamper you for all the patience you’ve shown me.

Surprisingly, though, she reached out and grabbed his arm. “You are not going anywhere,” she told him and pulled him off of his cart, laying him down on the ground underneath her. “Your goddess has needs,” she told him, leaning down and pulling her dress down around her, exposing her naked body to the warm air.

She then pinned his arms out from his sides and leaned over him, dangling her massive breasts over him and swaying them hypnotically before spiraling her nipple down to his mouth. He grinned and then she dropped herself down further, her massive breasts slowly weighing down on his face more and more, heavier and heavier, and covering more and more of him until he finally accepted it into his mouth and began sucking, giving Astravia an opportunity for a very satisfied and pleasurable sigh.

She kept him like this, closing her eyes and sighing repeatedly while he suckled on her, occasionally popping her nipple out of his mouth so that he could attend to the other one. She found it so relaxing and pleasurable, that she repeatedly had to catch herself from dropping her entire weight down on him. At one point, her arms nearly gave out altogether as she lost herself in the joys of having her little lover pleasure her and she giggled at herself, though Maceo’s eyes were quite wide from the close call, so she rolled over to her back and pulled him on top of her, pressing her nipple into his face so that he could continue.

She hugged him and squeezed him, kissing the top of his head as he suckled and then she squeaked with surprise when he slid his leg down between her legs and began stroking between her labia with it. She tensed and squeezed him harder, and then she opened her legs and angled her hips upward to allow him better access as he hugged her massive tit while using the remainder of his body to pleasure her in whatever other ways he could dream up.

She actually kept him like this until it was well past lunchtime and she groaned with frustration when she heard Maceo’s stomach growl. Reluctantly, she sat up and pulled her dress back on and led him to the patio by the pool where food was already sitting out waiting for them and steaming hot.

They ate lunch together and she glowed over the progress he’d made with the former sorceress and how happy she was to have added her to the fold of her followers as well as the way he’d conducted himself on their little pilgrimage. “Very clever use of the history of the missionaries I told you of,” she complimented him. “I am a bit impressed with how well you deceived her without lying once about it. You even admitted that you weren’t part of their line without arising any suspicions.”

“Is it right? She’s very devoted. Would it be wrong to give her a chance to at least meet you once?”

“I cannot do this without running the risk of revealing my presence to the entire world. I will reveal myself when I am ready. Until then, she must not be aware of my presence here.” Maceo nodded and said nothing more, simply going on with his meal without so much as a look to signal any level of disagreement, however, Astravia tacked on, “I do not enjoy hiding myself from her. I will have something special for her at the end of this life,” she promised.

Once they were finished with lunch, she took Maceo in her arms again and brought him up to her bathroom where a hot bath had been drawn and set him down on the edge of the tub and stripped him naked.

“Now you may freshen up,” she told him with a smile as his erect penis popped free and pointed excitedly up at her.

She stripped herself naked and then climbed into the tub and pulled Maceo along with, resting him laying against her chest in between her massive breasts as she settled in just deep enough for them both to bask in the warm water and then while he lounged against her breasts and looked up at her in anticipation as she lifted her arms around him and wrapped her fingers around his dick and began petting it slowly and sensually with her fingers while also leaning her head around him to revel in his facial expressions as she began pleasuring him.

She stroked a little faster until she felt his body tense and he wrapped his arms over and around her breasts, hugging them, then slowed considerably when it became obvious that he was approaching climax.

He relaxed again and she shrugged her arms forward, squeezing her breasts up around his torso, then pressed her palm over his chest and stomach while she nibbled on his little earlobe and sighed lustfully at him as he reached up over her breasts and squeezed her enormous, puffy, stiffened nipples in his hands.

With Maceo hugged close and wrapped snuggly in blankets of gigantic boobs, she began stroking him faster again, building him up until he would tense and his back arched. This time, he squeezed her nipples even harder and Astravia moaned from the stimulation and squirmed a little herself with the water in the pool lapping energetically against the edges of the tub. She sighed and became distracted as Maceo began kneading and squeezing her breasts and nipples, pulling Maceo back from the brink a second time until Astravia realized that he’d somehow taken control of their session and this time gripped his dick with her entire fist, though the tip only extended as far as her forefinger and was easily encapsulated in her grip.

She pumped him forcefully now, making him moan and triple his efforts against her breasts, but he also discovered at this point that this foot extended just past her hips and he could drag his heel between her labia and stroke her that way, grinning as he felt her clitoris swell against the back of his foot as he stroked her off in his own way.

Astravia tensed underneath him and arched her back, lifting Maceo mostly out of the water, pumping his hard cock ever faster with her fist in a race to be the first to get the mere six foot tall man off before she succumbed to her own desires.

They competed against each other until Maceo gasped and squeezed her nipples with his hands and pressed his heel into her swollen clitoris, giving her one last satisfied sigh and then she slowed, petting his cock lovingly and stroking him with her fingers as well as intermittently in her hand, now that she’d gained complete control over him, bringing him intentionally to the edge each time he gathered enough willpower to try to pleasure her again beyond his paralyzed state.

She played with him over and over like this, like a favorite toy, repeatedly stirring him to the brink of satisfaction only to make him moan loudly in frustration as she backed away over and over again each time he neared climax. Each time she did this to him, she laughed at him and grinned to herself at his refusal to beg her to finish him off and then after she took him to the very precipice of his destination and backed away, she would lean down and squeeze him between her breasts, kissing him affectionately at the nape of his neck.

She enjoyed this game for more than half an hour until his gasps evolved into heavy panting from the prolonged stress and finally decided to reward him for his tenacity. She began by stroking the length of his cock, fully engorged and achingly swollen, with her fingers and thumb, slowly at first, then picking up steam.

She then pumped him with her entire fist, his penis hidden comfortably well within her giant palm, and then as his back arched again and he gripped her massive, swollen nipples with all of his might, she relented, slipping back into stroking his length with her fingers again, harder this time, and with a bit more gusto, sighing happily and cooing to him with encouragement as he approached his long desired destination. His body tensed further, this time so tightly that he trembled from his head to his toes, his body betraying him and begging her for the release that his voice refused to request.

She wrapped her fingers around his cock and rotated them around the head, grinning and watching with eagerness as precum began oozing out, coating her fingertips. Finally, she leaned her head down and licked his earlobe, breathing lustfully into his ear.

“If you do not cum soon for me, my dearest Maceo, I am simply going to explode,” she whispered to him.

He chuckled slightly and attempted to reply, but the sensations of him wrapped in breasts large enough to sit on, with one giant hand petting his chest, the other petting his cock and Astravia’s giant lips and tongue playing with his exposed neck and earlobe made it too difficult for him to even meander past a single syllable.

Astravia was pleased to see him so completely under her control, and quickened her pace, her fingers dragging up and down his length until she felt those tell tale twitches of his cock, accompanied by a swelling of the head.

She began sucking on his earlobe and petted hard and fast now with her fingers and finally he exploded in quite an impressive ejaculation with a loud, “Unnnnh!” spurting out a good four times, with the first two blasts propelling out several feet and plunking into the water with a splash, giving Astravia a happy giggle at his excited reaction to being jerked off by a fifteen foot tall woman.

As soon as he had fulfilled his desires to spill his seed into her hand, she pulled him back into her bosom, wrapping her breasts around him and hugging him while kissing him over and over again as praise for his impressive performance.

It took him a few minutes like this to recover and when he did, he turned and looked at her only to receive another kiss to his lips this time. He smiled and placed his hand on her cheek, noting how little space it took on her, though she still smiled at the affectionate gesture. Then he looked down at her enormous breasts, which she was gently rubbing up and down around his body.

“You really do like your breasts, don’t you?” he asked her with a cheeky grin. She returned it and hugged him a little more tightly between her breasts.

“You seem to like it,” she teased. “You already seem to be getting hard again.”

“Oh, I love it. I just feel a little guilty lusting over your body so much.”

“It feels nice to be lusted for by you,” she praised him.

She then kissed him again and leaned back into the steaming hot water, taking time to lather him up and wash him while massaging his body until he actually fell asleep in her arms, pleasing her greatly.

She wrapped her breasts around him almost like a blanket and relaxed herself, enjoying the sensation of this mere six foot tall man pressed against her bare skin, petting and caressing him ever so gently while also massaging him with seemingly unlimited patience as this fragile mortal rested upon her chest.

A couple hours later, he slowly came to and looked up at Astravia, who was still smiling down at him pleasantly.

“You are such a dream come true,” he told her, actually making her blush.

“Is that so,” she smiled with healthy pink cheeks.

“It is,” he reiterated. “How long was I out?” he asked her.

“A couple of hours,” she answered. Her voice was soft and gentle, like a warm breeze.

“That seems like a waste, just laying here taking care of me for that long.”

“I enjoyed it,” she assured him, then rolled him over on her chest and kissed him.

“I haven’t even seen you in days. I wanted to spend time with you, not ignore you and fall asleep as soon as I saw you again.”

“If it makes you feel better, I took the opportunity to watch your dreams while you slept.”

“That’s actually embarrassing,” he told her.

“Why?”

“I don’t even know what I dreamed. What if it was something… offensive?” he asked her.

“You dreamed of floating among the clouds, while holding me,” she told him. “If you like, I can enter your dreams and share them with you.”

“Would I remember them if you did?”

“I could make it so you could,” she told him.

“I might enjoy that,” Maceo answered her.

She gave him a somewhat conflicted smile and petted his cheek with her fingertip. “I will consider it,” she told him. “I can easily join you in your dreams, however if I do it too often it tends to cause problems with a mortal’s psyche.”

“Which means you’re going to surprise me and sneak in,” Maceo told her with a mischievous grin.

Her grin spread across her lips and she bit her lower lip. “What makes you think that I haven’t already sneaked into your dreams?”

“Other than the fact that I don’t remember waking up with my shorts filled with my own cum?” he asked her. She laughed and needed to cover her mouth as her breasts jiggled all around him.

“Is that all you think about?” she teased him.

“Of course not,” he answered her confidently. “I think about all of the time we’ve spent together, all of the things we’ve done. Lately I think about flying a lot.”

“Really,” she stated, looking at him rather skeptically.

“You mean you think that I’m thinking about sex all the time,” Maceo challenged her. She laughed at him, and then wrapped her hands around him while also hugging her breasts around him. Deep within her cleavage, she could feel him becoming hard against her once again and nodded to him. “Of course I think about it all the time. But I think of other things too.”

“Such as what? Other than flying?”

“Swimming. Exploring hidden worlds miles underneath this mountain. Seeing the universe and watching the sunrise from a ring of ice around a world made of nothing but gas. Enjoying meals with you. Waking up and seeing your face and feeling at peace. Staring out at the night sky.”

She petted his cheek with her finger and took a breath with a soft smile. “I have enjoyed every moment with you these last few short years more than I have enjoyed the last several thousand years. Longer than that, actually,” she told him. “It is strange to me to simply enjoy time with another. Even with… in the past, it took much less time together before I found myself constantly arguing.”

“What am I supposed to argue with a goddess?” he asked her. “I’m a little out matched.”

“And yet I find myself kept on my toes by you much more than I would have expected,” she mused. “I told you,” she said after a moment to think, “You are to be my equal. I do not wish to remind you again.”

“I’m still getting my feet under me,” he told her. “You’re a challenge. All your experience and knowledge makes it difficult to find something you can treasure.”

“I treasure this,” she told him. “Moments where I can feel loved for once. Where I can feel like a woman.”

“I suppose even a goddess needs to feel like a woman,” he considered.

“A goddess needs to feel like a woman far more than a mere mortal,” she confessed. “It is… lonely living like this. And I only have so few years to enjoy this with you.”

“If you let me, I will make these few years better than an eternity,” he promised her. She leaned back and looked at him with both surprise and amusement.

“Bold claim,” she teased him.

“Something occurred to me recently.”

“And that would be?”

“You’ve been missing out by not being with any mortals,” he proclaimed.

“Oh? And why is that?” she asked with a chuckle.

“Because with the gods, you have an eternity. You have everything you could want and you can be whatever you want. With mortals, you have to choose carefully what you do and how you want to spend that time because it can end at any point.”

“So there are advantages to sleeping with mortals?” she tittered at him, amused as he only nodded in response to her. “As though you are more valuable than a god?” she asked.

“Not more valuable,” he told her. “But I’m starting to come to the realization that if I am the first mortal you have ever been with, that’s not just special for me, it’s special for you. And now, you’ll have to choose carefully how you want to spend this time with me. When it’s over, you won’t be able to go back to it, not really.”

She smiled at him and shook her head. “Yes, actually, I can. I have visited myself in the past more than once. I can even relive that past.”

“But that past self is still your past self. It’s still basically revisiting a memory. You can revisit that memory more vividly than I can, but it’s still a memory. The newness is gone, and it’s not as fresh. That’s why you don’t frequently go back, isn’t it? When you do relive your past, it numbs life for you, doesn’t it?” he challenged.

She was surprised by his insight and leaned back again. “That is correct,” she admitted. “When I relive my past, I make myself aware of all outcomes of that reality and I see it from all perspectives that I can. It is an amazing ability, but those memories become… quite bland to me. How would you know this?”

“I just imagined it.”

“Spending time with me seems to be altering your perceptions a great deal.”

“How could it not?” he asked her. “You told me once that you find freshness in the universe by seeing it through eyes that are seeing it for the first time. What that tells me is all this power of yours is at the heart of why your existence is so dull. How dull is life for you now, though?” he asked her.

“It is… very nice,” she told him. “I find myself wishing for strange things, however.”

“Such as?”

“I am having difficulty putting it in words. This is wonderful, to be with someone who finally appreciates me, and not just as a sexual fantasy, but who obviously adores me for far more than that. I wonder what the less than pleasant parts of a relationship feel like when.. when…”

“When getting in a fight doesn’t become a threat?”

“Among other things, yes,” she told him, again surprised that he once again was able to anticipate feelings that he would have no experience with. “But you do not know these things. You cannot. Can you?”

“No I don’t, but I’ve noticed that you are a woman, and that makes you more like me than not alike. All I have to do is try to be empathetic, and let my imagination go. I can’t understand what it really feels like, other than the threat I’d experience by angering a goddess with limitless power.”

“You think that I would hurt you,” she accused, hurt by his statement.

“I’m aware that you could without even thinking about it. I bet you could disassemble every atom in my body and pull them back together again before my soul left this world an infinite number of times.”

“I could, yes,” she said, though she seemed quite disturbed by the thought. “But you must be fearful that I would do this to you, or else you would not bring it up.”

“No,” he answered her. “My point is you could do this without a thought, it would be so easy for you. You have to be constantly in control, you have to always hold back every part of you because this power you have is also an infinite burden. I don’t think you would do this to me. I think that you have to create a massive damn inside of you to stop yourself from doing it. Even losing control for an instant could cause more damage than you would ever want to see.”

“That is correct,” she answered, fascinated by his unexpected insight.

“I’m infinitely lucky to be that special to you,” he told her. “We all are.”

She smiled and petted his hair with her fingertip. “I love this world, and I love this universe. I have watched you all grow and develop and though I know everything in this universe must come to its end, it does pain me each time I see it happen.”

“It’s just that you’ve seen it so many times you’ve become desensitized to it.”

“When you leave this world, I will grieve more than you can imagine. Even though I can still visit you in the next world. It is… nice to remember first hand again how to feel these things. It is also painful.”

“And that is why you have been missing out by never being with a mortal before.”

“I… I am surprised at how quickly you have managed to imagine these perceptions.”

“I’ve been watching you for half my life, short as it is. I’ve been trying to understand your sadness that entire time. It’s kind of been my mission.”

She seemed genuinely touched and petted him tenderly as he lay on top of her.

“I have been anxiously awaiting your return to me,” she told him, then kissed him lovingly. As she did, she grinned as she felt him suddenly become hard against her bare skin again. “I have been anxiously awaiting that as well,” she teased him.

“I have a question,” he asked her.

“Of course,” she encouraged.

“I’m going to satisfy you,” he told her.

“You have satisfied me,” she laughed.

“You know what I mean,” he added firmly.

“Bold claims, little mortal,” she laughed.

“I’m just curious,” he said, pulling her back towards his question again. “If I was the size of a god, I could please you much more easily than I can like this. If I’m with you, it wouldn’t really matter what size I am anymore. I don’t even need to leave the temple anymore if I don’t want to. I assume you want me to build that life I was supposed to build with you now.”

“Yes,” she confirmed with a smile.

“So why not make me god sized?”

“Because to do so in the manner in which you are thinking is a curse,” she told him. “It is one thing to change a mortal temporarily. It is another to do it permanently or repeatedly. Altering one in the way you are considering is always a curse. I can limit the curse, I can make it less damaging, but what you are asking for is an alteration of your body’s nature. That is the definition of a curse. I am not going to curse you.”

“Well, it would be a lot easier to please you with a penis that was nearly two feet long than seven or eight inches.”

“A little more than seven and a half,” she answered.

“You measured it?” he asked her, quite embarrassed.

“I have memorized it,” she answered him, bopping the tip of his nose with her fingertip. “And yes, I know its exact dimensions. It is a very nice sized penis for a mortal.”

“But three times bigger would be a lot better for you. You have to admit that.”

“There is more than you need than size to bring me to climax. For a goddess, it really is quite complicated. I realize how much larger I am than you, but it is more than size that is causing trouble. And despite your misgivings I can tell you that I enjoy your penis quite a bit. Despite your lack of experience, you use it quite well.”

“So you honestly expect me to believe that if my penis weren’t three times bigger, it wouldn’t feel better for you? That would be worth being cursed.”

“It would, but that would not change the best feeling I get from being with you,” she answered, then kissed him. “I was actually more concerned that I would be… not tight enough to please you.”

“No complaints from me,” he told her.

“I am still not going to curse you,” she told him. “You are quite wonderful as you are. I would not change you one bit.”

And when you do things like change my lungs so I can breath underwater?” he asked her. “Isn’t that the same?”

“No. I am careful about that. I am not actually changing your lungs when I do that. I am adding an additional filter around your alveoli that will filter the oxygen from the water you inhale. I change my own lungs, which is why I do not need to cough out the water when I revert back to my normal form. I also use remnants within your own genetic structure to create that filter. It may be new to you, but it is actually as close to being a natural part of you as I can make it. This way I can take you swimming as often as I like without harming you,” she answered happily.

“So you do plan to take me with you again?”

“I plan to do more than simply take you with me,” she promised him with a teasing grin. “I have some fantasies I would like to explore with you down there.”

“I’m game,” he told her with a rather confident smirk. “Wanna go now?”

“Another time,” she told him. “Now enough talk. I have been waiting for what seems like an eternity to do this,” she said and then pushed him to his knees atop her chest and placed his hands on her nipples. “Hold tight,” she whispered lustfully and then leaned up and wrapped her lips around his cock, sucking and licking affectionately and passionately, but with nowhere near the overwhelming force she’d used the last time she’d blown him.

This time, it was more like his genitals were bathed in a warm summer day with warm, lavishing attention poured over his member like a never-ending waterfall of pleasure. She shrugged her shoulders forward, lifting her breasts upward for him to fondle them more easily, allowing him just enough control over his own body to reciprocate, but it was clear who was in control of this session.

Several times, she pulled back and let his cock slip out of her mouth and grinned up at him as she licked it’s length with the tip of her tongue repeatedly before enveloping it with her mouth once again. She continued pleasuring him on and on, kissing the tip of his dick while fondling his balls with her thumb and forefinger, and occasionally even bobbing her entire head back and forth along his length, despite the fact that being so much larger than him made that completely unnecessary.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she decided it was time to bring him to fruition and steadily increased her attention to the same level as she had her first time in such a position. This time, however, he seemed far better prepared and he closed his eyes, concentrating while also gripping her nipples and twisting them to distract her. Much to her surprise, he held out far longer than the very few short seconds he had the first time around and her eyes clearly showed that surprise as he held out for ten, then twenty, then thirty seconds, and then a minute, refusing to spill his seed in defiance of her will.

Her eyes grew wider as she gave him her best and he took it in stride, this time having the advantage of not being ambushed by a sneak attack as well as the experience of his first go around to guide him. She groaned with frustration as he continued to resist her, then with lust as he manipulated her nipples clumsily and then suddenly he exploded inside of her mouth, falling forward and almost over her entire face as he released his seed into her mouth with several twitching bursts.

She laughed a little at him, then pushed him back between her breasts and flicked his chest with her finger.

“You held out for over a minute!” she exclaimed at his defiance.

“It felt so good, I didn’t want it to end,” he answered. She laughed, but flicked his chest again with her finger, then she chirped as he rolled over to his right and hugged her breast with his arms and pulled her nipple into his mouth, sucking on it. She sighed with satisfaction and a couple soft, pleasurable moans slipped from her lips before tugging on his shoulders and bidding him to come back to answer to her.

“How? That… was a finishing move!”

“Oh, I finished,” he teased her.

“You know what I mean!” she laughed and flicked his chest again with her finger.

“I’m not sure,” he answered. “I just wanted to make you work for it, so I did whatever I could to hold on for as long as possible.”

“Well, congratulations,” she smirked at him. “You just weathered a storm that has never failed to force a man to succumb in more than three quarters of a minute.”

“You make it sound like that’s a bad thing,” he chuckled.

“I am a bit concerned I am losing my touch,” she informed him.

“Oh no,” he answered her back. “I seriously think I was loosing my mind, it felt so good. I think I might have an aneurism if I try to hold out that long again,” he laughed. “And I’m guessing you wouldn’t bother to heal me if I did in this case.”

“Make me work for it,” she scowled at him, though she continued to smirk. “I am a goddess! You think you can simply ‘make me work for it?’” she asked and flicked his chest again, practically knocking him over.

“I think I just did,” he teased her. “What’s the matter? Not up for a little mortal’s challenge?”

“Oh you had better believe I am,” she declared defiantly with a mocking wag of her head. With that, she touched his chest, which glowed and he became immediately refreshed, blushing as his cock began stiffening.

She reached up and began petting his length until he was fully ready and then wrapped her gigantic lips around his member once more and commenced just as she had a moment before, this time not bothering to warm up. This time he only lasted a little over half a minute before he exploded to a mischievous smirk from his giantess lover, though she still seemed frustrated by his ten fold resistance to her charms compared to the first time she’d sucked him off.

“One more time,” she proclaimed with a slight growl and touched his chest, refreshing and recharging him and then diving in on his cock with even more vigor, which slowly devolved into frustration once again as he managed to hold out for slightly more than a minute this time before exploding forcefully into her mouth. “HOW?” she asked with frustration, then touched his chest and repeated the ritual once more, this time managing to bring his endurance down to a bit less than a minute before he burst into her mouth even more explosively.

“You’re going to give me an aneurism!” he laughed when she touched his chest once again.

“You’re holding back?!?” she asked, shocked and somewhat appalled. “Do not DARE hold back this time,” she ordered him, then grabbed his ass and waist in her hand and began sucking vigorously as Maceo held on to her giant nipples with all his might and moaned loudly and at length, this time holding out much to her shock for nearly two minutes before his body shook so hard he actually slipped out of her mouth and came all over her face.

“I cannot believe this!” she declared in a half scream, while laughing and wiping the cum off of her face after setting him back on her chest.

“Neither can I,” he laughed back at her, thoroughly winded this time and dripping with sweat.

“I should NOT need to use my powers to do this!” she screamed, then chirped and moaned as he began sucking on her nipple again forcefully. “You are not helping!” she screamed, then grabbed him in her hands, sat up with tens of gallons pouring off of her like waterfalls and she repeated again, this time managing to power him off in less than ten seconds.

“Finally!” she screamed, and let go of him, dropping him into the bathtub the size of a swimming pool to him and letting him dunk completely underwater between her legs.

She was finally satisfied and leaned back, expecting him to resurface only to tense, grip the sides of her bathtub and scream as he instead chose to dive deeper underwater, directly into her womanhood and feverishly lavish her rapidly swelling clitoris with his hands and mouth. She writhed and moaned happily for the better part of a minute before he was forced to resurface for air, and then she put her hand over her chest and lay back with a healthy blush in her cheeks as he crawled up onto her naked body and up to her bosom again.

“I think you cheated,” he taunted her as she petted his cheek again.

“Cheated? How?” she wanted to know of him.

“You recharged me over and over again just to see how fast you could make me cum! You used your powers! That’s cheating!”

“Are you honestly complaining that I gave you five of the best blowjobs I can give?”

“Well, when you put it like that,” he relented, smirking at her.

“And how else would I have put it?”

“That you were using my body like it was your toy?”

“You say that as though it were a bad thing,” she pointed out teasingly and poking the tip of his nose.

“I’m saying that it’s cheating using your powers like that. I can’t use magic to get you off.”

“Because my magic is better than yours,” she added. “Would you like me to not make you cum over and over again in rapid succession?” He paused and looked at her thoughtfully before responding again.

“I suppose I could think of worse ways to spend the day,” he told her nonchalantly.

“Augh!” she yelled in feigned offense and flicked him with her two fingers, knocking him back and tumbling down her body back into the water again, then she tensed and gasped as he once again used the unexpected dunk to fondle her clitoris again, which swelled even more quickly than the last time. She moaned and squirmed loudly enough that Maceo could hear her voice vibrating through his body as he sucked on her clit and licked it affectionately, testing her responses carefully until he was forced to resurface for air.

“You are sneaky!” she laughed at him and pulled him up between her breasts once again, kissing him passionately.

Astravia spared him the strain of yet more orgasms and then thoroughly washed him up, enjoying the feeling of lathering his body at first with her hands, but then choosing to lather her breasts extremely heavily and rubbing his body between them.

Once they were properly washed, they dried and headed out, with Maceo attempting to lead the way to his aircraft, but Astravia instead picked him up and brought him back to the pool.

“You have worked hard enough these last several weeks,” she informed him as she pulled the mortal to her bosom and squeezed him. “I have been waiting to spend this day with you and I intend to spend it relaxing.”
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CKent45
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Re: The Goddess' Retreat

Post by CKent45 » Wed Jun 29, 2022 3:20 am

Eight days had passed since Maceo’s return to the temple and the first two were spent almost solely on Astravia’s intense and ravenous sexual appetite that had been neglected during Maceo’s quaint little adventures.

Following that, however, Maceo slowly managed to get back to work as Astravia’s needs were finally met (for the time being). She was interested to see him spend the majority of his time to himself in the library where he studied much more diligently than he had in years. A few times, she came in to check on him and curiously looked over his shoulder to see him neck deep in books related to engineering, though he refused to share with her what new project had come across his imagination.

“I could simply look within your mind,” she suggested.

“And then you wouldn’t get to enjoy the surprise I have in store for you,” Maceo insisted.

“My dearest Maceo,” she tittered back, “when have you ever managed to truly surprise me?” she asked him. “This obsession of yours, I swear.”

“I still think it’ll be more enjoyable if I don’t tell you,” he insisted.

“If that is your wish,” she agreed, waving him off and walking away. “But do not make me wait too long for this ‘surprise’ of yours,” she added, laughing to herself.

Then on the evening eight days after returning home, Maceo found himself sitting out on the patio enjoying dinner with Astravia next to a warm and bright fire. Conversation was pleasant, and at one point during a lull, Astravia decided to take the opportunity to tease him regarding his pending “surprise.”

“Soon,” he promised, and refused to say more than that.

That following dinner, she decided to take him for a swim where they explored the sunken ship together again before emerging from the depths and laying down together near the fire to relax and dry off.

She couldn’t help but roll to her side and spoon the little mortal, petting him nearly constantly. She also found herself occasionally nibbling on his earlobe and petting his penis absentmindedly when he would get hard (which was quite often). They relaxed like this late into the evening, past their normal bed time before she noticed him beginning to doze off and ordered them both to bed, strolling ahead of him as she retired to her personal chamber completely naked and swaying her hips intentionally so as to entice him, despite his sleepiness.

When she emerged from the bathroom having properly refreshed herself, she crawled into bed, where he was already waiting and snuggled up to him, surprised as he immediately began fondling her breast. She closed her eyes and sighed to him.

“I had thought you would be too tired.”

“Are you complaining?” he asked her.

“No,” she sighed as he began sucking on her nipple and hugging her gigantic breast with his arms. He continued like this for several minutes before switching the other one and pushing on her to signal her to lay on her back so that he could lay on top of her.

There, he was able to apply most of his body to fondling her enormous breast while she squeezed and played with the other one herself. He continued on until she was properly warmed up and moaning regularly with pleasure and then he popped her swollen, stiff nipple from his mouth and smirked up at her until she looked down at him with curiosity. Once he had her attention, he began crawling backwards down her, kissing every inch of her skin as he went, and she smirked.

“It has been quite a long time since I have had that done to me properly. Are you certain you are up for the challenge?” she taunted him.

“We’ll find out,” he answered and she raised her eyebrow at him. There was that odd self-assurance in his tone of voice again.

He crawled backwards and down over her hips between her legs to labia that were still closed to him, but as soon as he rubbed his hand down her slit, it seeped with her feminine juices signaling she was quite eager to enjoy this long lost service.

He kissed her pelvis, inching down across her thick, golden pubic hairs and down to her hood, where she closed her eyes and sighed with satisfaction as he ran his hand up and down her slit, which was quickly growing wetter and wetter. Then he smirked up at her, placed his free hand on top of her mons pubis and dipped his head down, pressing her hood up and wrapping his lips around her clitoris.

This made Astravia moan and lift her head as her back arched slightly. For a moment, her thighs began to press up against him as she adapted to the intensity of her sensations, but she quickly opened them again, her body squirming just a little as he lapped along her entire pussy.

He continued on like this, slowly building her up patiently, alternating between lapping her clitoris rapidly and applying as much pressure as his body could apply. As with all of his other attentions, she was certainly enjoying this, but she was hardly anywhere near a climax. She was, however, steadily building up in intensity as he ate her out. He waited until she was pleased enough that she rolled her head in a circle and tensed again and then he took his right hand and pressed directly against her womanly precipice, which again made her squirm ever so slightly and sigh longingly.

In the middle of this sigh, he pressed his hand inside of her and as he did so, her eyes suddenly shot open and she gasped, tensing and gripping her sheets as he slid in as deep as his wrist. “I would be careful,” she warned, and as soon as she did, he shoved his entire arm in up to his elbow, feeling for the right place inside of her with his hand and then pressing upward on it with his palm.

Her jaw dropped and her eyes went wide and she moaned out loudly, then as he adjusted his arm again, shifting the angle, she tensed hard enough that she had to lift her entire pelvis up off of the bed, “Oh!” she chirped both lustfully and with pleasant surprise. “That is…”

Now he’d finally found her button, so he rotated his arm and attacked from another angle and her ass suddenly crashed back down on the mattress, dragging his body with and both of her legs straightened and spread out. Though he was too busy with his work to see, her toes curled and her body tremored violently as he made another attempt at his first move upon entering her, which again made her giant body tremor. “Th-th-that is-s…” she stammered and he couldn’t help but grin, having brought her much farther than he’d ever done before.

He was hardly done, though, as he turned his palm up again, pressed her button once more and then began pumping his arm in and out of her forcefully, all the while sucking her entire clitoris with his mouth.

She gasped again and her legs began kicking alternatively while the rest of her body shook and she gripped her sheets even more tightly. “Ohhhhh…” she moaned, then “Unnnhhh!!” and then OOOHHHH!!!” again even louder. “Be… c-careful…” she warned and he winced as he felt her vagina tighten around his arm, almost to the point of pain, and so tight that he could hardly move his arm any longer.

Rather than be dissuaded, however, he pressed harder against her, pressing his hand against the roof of her pussy and massaging it with his entire hand, making her scream this time. His eyes went wide as her clit swelled even more, pushing into his mouth a couple of inches, but still he soldiered on.

“That’s… g-goo-ood, but…” she warned, then screamed again as he cut her off by massaging her in a new way, catching her off guard again and then her pussy tightened again, though this time he could feel the muscles within her vaginal walls twitching ever so slightly.

He battled her enormous pussy for almost fifteen minutes straight, pushing her ever higher, only to falter back a bit, then find a new angle from which to attack, all the while, her screams ebbing and flowing, but on the whole increasing until her entire body tensed and despite how tightly her vagina clenched down on his arm, her fluids increased suddenly and so precipitously that it granted him movement again, though by this point it was clearly becoming painful for him.

She began kicking again, almost as though she were attempting to run up an imaginary ladder and she lurched as he began pumping his fist in her with all his strength.

“Cum for me, Astravia,” he declared so boldly that it sounded like a command, and her eyes widened again and she gasped, then fell silent aside from her shaky and unstable breathing and her pussy tightened further, the muscles twitching inside growing more tangible and finally she froze solid. She lay like this for a moment while he battled ferociously against her pussy and clitoris, now sucking as hard as he could.

“R-r-ri-ight th-there…” she stuttered and then kicked spastically again before finally succumbing in a loud, long and constant scream as her feminine secretions practically poured out over his arm and then her hips bucked forcefully and wildly, taking the mere six foot tall mortal along with her for a wild, and extremely dangerous ride.

One terrifying moment later, she collapsed on the bed again, gasping for breath wide eyed as Maceo was finally able to withdraw his arm from her and fall back, staring at her sopping wet pussy, which was convulsing spastically and pulsing before his eyes.

She lay there like that in silence, stunned by how pleasant and exhilarating these long lost sensations were, then she suddenly sat up and grabbed him in her hands, pulling him up to her mouth and kissing him frantically and gratefully as she fell back onto her back, lavishing and covering his entire face in massive, wet kisses.

“Where did you learn to do that?” she asked him with excited and lustful eyes.

“What do you think I’ve been studying all week?” he answered her. “I was surprised that Aphastonea wrote volumes on it. She was more than a little obsessed.”

“I used to complain what would happen if a mortal ever came across those books,” she admitted. “It never occurred to me I would be in her debt for those writings.” Then she lavished him again with warm, wet kisses. “I thought something was happening in the shadows when you were surrounding yourself with engineering books,” she said as she took a break from kissing him and caressed him affectionately.

“Well, at least I managed to beat the odds and finally get you off,” he laughed at her. She lifted her head up and smirked at him before dropping it again back onto her pillow.

“You certainly did,” she admitted. “You realize I could have broken your arm,” she pointed out.

“I’d recover,” he answered back nonchalantly, and once more she lifted her head and looked at him with disbelief mixed with amusement.

“I cannot believe that a mere six foot tall man dominated me so easily,” she remarked with fascination.

“There was nothing easy about that,” he countered, only to be smothered in more kisses.

“One hundred, sixty three thousand, eight hundred twenty four years, one month, one day, thirteen hours, twenty four minutes and thirty six seconds,” she said after a moment to herself to think. He lifted his head to look her in her eyes, though he seemed to already know what she was referring to. “Since the last time I climaxed,” she added.

“That’s extremely specific,” he teased her. “I thought you weren’t sure exactly how long it had been. Instead, you’ve been counting the seconds.”

“I have not been counting the seconds! I can look back in time and know exactly how long it has been. It was long enough ago that I nearly had forgotten it.” She was very matter of fact, but her tone carried a certain level of defensiveness to it.

“It seems like you missed how it felt,” Maceo teased further.

“Oh… you have no idea,” she laughed back at him and squeezed him tightly. “You honestly spent an entire week researching surreptitiously how to trick my body into orgasm?”

“I didn’t have to trick it into anything. It was begging for one,” Maceo answered back somewhat boldly.

The next day just before lunch, Astravia stalked and attacked Maceo in the library ravenously, even more sexually charged now that she’d rediscovered the excitement of orgasming, and what was more, having discovered it from such an unlikely source. She leapt on him, pinning him to the ground and played with his dick with her fingers while smothering his body in giant kisses until she was practically panting with excitement.

“Could you…” she began to ask, though she seemed unable to finish her statement. There was a certain level of begging in her voice and then she rolled over onto her back, pulling the little mortal on top of her.

“I thought you’d never ask,” he answered her and hugged one of her enormous breasts, sucking on the nipple and giving her an opportunity to moan softly and squirm under his attentions as he warmed her up for the main event. This time, Astravia was so eager for this delectable treat, she actually began fingering herself while Maceo lay on top of her sucking her nipples and hugging her breasts. She became so excited that he actually had to forestall crawling backwards to her eager and aching womanhood because she was so busy fingering herself.

Eventually, she did allow him to crawl back on her and down to her waiting womanhood, and she closed her eyes and bit her lip while balling up her fists and pressing her hips up into the air impatiently awaiting cunnilingus.

He followed the same strategy as the night before, using his entire arm to penetrate her while his mouth focused on her clitoris, but this time it took nearly twice as long to bring her to fruition, with considerably more effort than the night before. Not that it mattered in the end. Once she twitched and shook followed by bucking hips that took the man only about a third her height along for a wild ride involuntarily, she was even more grateful and affectionate than the night before.

That evening, following dinner, she carried him to bed and pleaded with him to once again get her off, and this time he was rewarded with her climbing over him and riding him as hard as she could without hurting him with her massive tits swinging enticingly far above him in a sensual show she performed for him quite intentionally.

The next morning, they ate breakfast together with her pawing at him nearly constantly, actually fighting to keep his attention as he seemed rather indifferent to her adoration. This only served to make her more hungry for him, and she blushed when he finally kissed her and set off to continue his work.

Shortly before lunch, she arrived at the metalworking shop where he was wrapping up the equipment the golems had made for him and testing them. He smiled at her and went back to focusing on the craftsmanship of their work, which again seemed to only make her more eager to fight for his attention. She practically pranced up to him and knelt before him, looking over his shoulder, then leaned down and kissed his cheek from behind. He finally stopped and smiled, reaching up and squeezing his cheek to hers.

“You know that I love you more than life itself,” he told her, which made her blush immediately.

“It is… nice to hear it just the same,” she praised him.

“I’ll have to go back to town tomorrow,” he informed her. “They’re waiting on these weapons and gear.”

“I understand,” she said, though her voice was more than a little sad.

“I wish you could go with me,” he said, then kissed her cheek and focused again on his work.

She sat up a little and stared off into space, and then leaned back down and kissed his cheek once again, this time lingering as she did so.

That evening, they ate a much more spirited meal together over a picnic watching the horses off in the distance in their pasture. Maceo had a golem pick up their leftovers from dinner and then she lay on her back and hugged him to her to watch the sun set together, smiling to herself the entire time. Once the sun was gone for the evening, they walked back to her quarters and up to her chamber where she stood above him, looking down as though she were nervous to share her thoughts.

“What’s wrong?” he asked her. She offered a confused smile and swallowed, stalling for time.

“I would like to ask you a question,” she said, somewhat bashfully.

“You’re a goddess,” he reminded her with a laugh. “You’re the queen of all goddesses. You don’t need my permission to ask a question.”

She grinned at him, then shuffled her foot, working up the courage to speak.

“Would you like to see what I would look like if I were a mortal woman?”

“You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, or even that I could imagine. I think you are more than beautiful enough as you are.”

“I was not looking for flattery,” she said, still bashful, but also lecturing a little.

“I didn’t mean it as flattery. I love you as you are. I would never ask you to be different.”

She blushed more deeply and fidgeted. “Would you like to see me as I would be if I were your size?” she asked, putting her point a little more clearly.

“Would you like to be with me like that?” he asked.

“Maceo, tell me honestly: would you like me to shrink down to mortal size?” she practically blurted out. He smiled to himself, letting her swim in the silence and waited until she looked as though she were becoming frustrated.

“Show me,” he told her. She snapped back to looking at him and offered another confused and conflicted smile. He looked up at her, noticing her hands were trembling slightly and she tucked them behind her back.

“If that is your wish,” she said after another large gulp.

Then Maceo’s eyes went wide as she stood upright and put her hands at her side to stand rigidly, closed her eyes, then looked down at him and forced a smile. Once she did so, he watched with amazement as the fifteen-foot giantess began to slowly dwindle before his eyes, her head dipping down from fifteen feet to fourteen, her soft skin slowly losing its ethereal qualities and looking more like that of an extremely beautiful young woman, her elegant dress shifting to a much more realistic looking fabric.

As she approached thirteen feet tall, she adjusted her stance as her feet were growing further apart. She continued to dwindle down to twelve feet tall and her appearance became still more ordinary while the golden shine from her hair shifted toward a soft blonde.

As she approached nine feet tall, he smiled a little as a freckle began to appear on her left cheek, followed by another, then one on her right cheek. She continued to dwindle and at eight feet tall she adjusted her stance once more, her expression becoming even more bashful and took a deep, nervous breath, continuing to contract into herself.

She dwindled down to seven feet tall, bracing herself for the final stages of her transformation as a handful of soft, gentle freckles on each of her cheeks settled in permanently.

Down she went, matching his six foot stature, then he was caught off guard as she continued shrinking, down to 5’9”, then 5’6” and still she reduced, smirking and chuckling nervously as she noticed the bulge in his pants growing as he watched her shrink.

She finally stopped at the four feet, ten inches that she had frequented in her adventures looking after Maceo and stood, looking up at him for the very first time and waiting for his reaction anxiously.

It took him a moment to drink in this much smaller version of his beloved goddess, which only served to make Astravia even more anxious, and it was only after she broke eye contact and looked away from him that he stepped forward and approached her, placing his hand on her chin as he looked over a petite, gorgeous version of the woman he loved so much, his growing hunger for her showing in his expression.

He took her chin in his thumb and forefinger and turned her gaze back up to meet his, smiling softly down to her until her anxiety seemed to ebb slightly as she partially returned his smile.

“I really shouldn’t have doubted you,” he told her.

“What do you mean?”

“I didn’t believe a mortal version of you could possibly be as beautiful as the real version, but I’m sorry to admit that I let myself forget who I was dealing with.”

She blushed a deep, bright red and her anxiety at being seen in this much smaller, more vulnerable form finally disappeared. “You like?”

“I do,” he confirmed. “As long as you do too.”

“I noticed a part of you seemed to like it as well,” she told him shyly and reached forward, squeezing the bulge in his pants.

“At least you know I’m not lying,” he boasted. She laughed a little, and struggled to keep eye contact. She looked down, grabbed his hands and stared at them, marveling at how large they looked from this angle, then looked up at him again, craning her neck to do so as she stood a mere couple inches from him.

“This is not a form I take lightly,” she shared with him. “I have only ever used it as a disguise for when I wish to mingle among mortals without them knowing who I am.”

“A woman this beautiful is hardly inconspicuous.” She blushed again, her eye contact wavering once more.

“I do not reveal who I am in this form,” she informed him. “I typically only wear it when I must know how a mortal would behave among other mortals.”

“So this is a very rare gift.”

“Extremely rare,” she informed him, her confidence growing slowly now. She then smiled as he ran his fingers across her cheek and through her hair. She lifted her chin and waited anxiously as he bent down and kissed her gently while wrapping his arm around her waist. She lifted up onto her tiptoes in a vane attempt to meet a man who was more than a foot taller than her now. She wrapped her arms around his neck and attacked him, her tongue surprisingly easily overwhelming his despite her much smaller size now, though he certainly wasn’t displeased.

A moment later, she was quite literally climbing up him and squeezing him tightly as he grabbed her ass and squeezed it, pulling her against him. They made out passionately with each other until he needed to stop for air and she giggled at him, then watched him as he looked around at their surroundings.

“Maybe we should have waited until we were on the bed before you shrank,” he suggested, looking at the top of the mattress that sat slightly above his eye level.

“Oh, that is not a problem,” she laughed and climbed off of him. She took his hand and walked him forward to the side of the bed, then stepped behind him and placed her hands on his hips. His eyes went wide as he felt a great deal of pressure from her squeezing him and then tensed as he felt his feet leave the ground.

What happened next was entirely surreal. He lifted up fluidly and so quickly that he didn’t even have enough time to look around him to see what was happening and when he finally did turn to look back at her, she was straightening up as though she’d simply taken a large step up onto the top of the mattress before letting him go.

“I suppose it makes sense that you could just use your magic,” he reasoned, but she only laughed at him and took his hand.

“I did not use my magic,” she tittered as she led him forward to the middle of the mattress designed for a being three times their height.

“Then how…”

“You only perceive in four dimensions. This form may be different from the one you are familiar with, but I am still the same.”

“So what are you saying? That… despite being… less than… five… feet tall, you just… picked me up the same way you would if you were still fifteen feet tall?”

“Essentially,” she answered with a smile and then stood in front of him, holding both of his hands.

“How?” he asked, struck by the strange experience.

“Oh, well, this is simply a form that I wear. Much like one of my dresses. I can make much more exaggerated strides while wearing a dress, I simply do not because I do not want my dress to fly up in an undesired fashion. It is much the same here.”

“So your other form… the one I’m used to… do you… just wear that one too?”

“No, that is my natural form. Just as this is your natural form. Think of it like this: you are standing between two lines and on either side of the line there is water. You can walk up and down that line easily without getting your feet wet, and you can also step outside of the lines whenever you choose, but if you do, your feet will get wet. In essence, you are not trapped moving in only two dimensions, you simply choose to out of convenience. Or for another reason of your choosing.”

“So you didn’t actually shrink,” he deduced.

“I did and I did not. My natural form is still here and I can use it as I wish whenever I wish. You simply do not perceive it the same as you would if I were not wearing this form.”

“So it’s like moving a piece on a chess board.”

“No,” she replied patiently. “I am physically in this form. I am simply also a being that perceives many other dimensions than you do. I will tell you a secret,” she said in a half hushed tone of voice. “There are other dimensions to you as well. This is true of all mortals. Your perceptions simply cannot grasp those dimensions. In your case, you are unique amongst mortals. You have a fleeting sense of those other dimensions. Such mortals are often called seers or prophets. If one of those other dimensions to you was affected, any mortal would know it, but they would have no way of describing or comprehending what had happened to them. Thankfully, because your perceptions are so limited, it is only in the most extreme circumstances where another mortal can affect these other dimensions.”

“So… did you pull me through another dimension to step up to the bed?”

“Not quite,” she grinned, enjoying his mortal attempts to comprehend her lesson. “It is more that you were pulled along those other dimensions, like skimming across water or falling against one of my drapes. The boundary is there, but it will only hold you up if the conditions are right.”

“But I’m coming back to the fact that… in your eyes you didn’t actually shrink. So nothing is actually different about you?”

“Not really, no. You feel exactly the same to me as you do in my natural form, aside from the fact that now you can reach,” she grinned and stepped forward and placed his hands on her rump, encouraging him to squeeze. “That is a very nice change, however,” she confessed.

“Well, at least like this it’ll be easier to get you off,” he reasoned.

“Unfortunately, no. It will actually be much more difficult for you to get me to climax like this. I… had considered doing this before for you, I was just… being selfish.”

“How so?”

“It does feel very nice despite how much smaller you are than me,” she said. Of course, this was an incredibly strange statement given the fact that she was now more than a foot shorter than him. “Extremely nice. And then I discovered that you can, in fact, please me in a way that none has bothered to even try in so long and I very much wanted to hold on to that feeling. But tonight? Tonight you are going to experience something very special.” He opened his mouth to reply, but she placed her hand over his mouth and laughed at him. “No hackneyed retorts,” she interjected. “You have given me pleasure I have not enjoyed in a very, very long time. You’ve done so repeatedly. Tonight, you will experience what you have done for me first hand,” she promised.

“I’m a little nervous,” he told her, showing his words in his expression.

“Don’t be,” she whispered and then pulled on his neck, making him bend down to kiss her. As they kissed, she reached up and pulled down the straps of her dress and lowered it across her body, exposing her still quite sizeable breasts to him and then shimmied the dress over her round hips and allowed it to pool at her feet. Now completely naked, she pulled one of his hands and placed it on her breast. His eyes showed a great deal of eagerness as well as a fascination as despite her being less than a third her normal height, she was proving to still be easily more than a handful for him, which also seemed to amuse her as well as grant her immense pleasure to feel his hand cover so much more of her mammary tissues than before, despite the fact that even at a mere 4’10” tall she was still quite endowed, even for a woman more than a foot taller than what she stood now.

She sighed and squirmed as he fondled her breast, which was far more manageable than at her original size and she had him wrap an arm around her waist while he fondled her and she took advantage of her free hands to undo his belt and pull his pants down, freeing his quite eager penis, which sprang up and poked her unused breast, which was surprisingly accessible for him at this much more petite size. With a slight bend at the waist at this height, she could quite easily draw his manhood between her breasts, hiding it fully to the hilt, though she seemed to have other ideas on this particular sexual excursion.

She gripped his rod and stroked its length with her little hand, giving him a powerful shiver that sent tingles up his spine and raised goose bumps across his body. He closed his eyes and gasped, giving her a wide and proud grin as he gripped her breast, holding on as he quickly approached climax.

She decided to take her time and grabbed the bottom of his shirt and lifted it up, over his face, quickly reaching the limit of her newly shortened reach. He raised his arms and bent his elbow to grab his shirt and assist her the rest of the way but then was shocked to see the shirt yanked up and away from him and tossed away as though she were plucking his clothing away from him from far above his mortal height, though it happened quickly enough from behind the shroud of his shirt that he was unable to see exactly how she’d pulled off this odd feat.

Now that they were both fully naked, she pulled on him and lay back onto her giant mattress, pulling him on top of her to make love to her for the very first time in a much more conventional sense. He lay on top of Astravia, trepidation showing in his eyes.

Beneath him lay the same Astravia, though this one was far less ethereal looking in her nature, while still being almost unnaturally beautiful. The main difference was size. The giantess he’d made love with repeatedly was now a petite and shapely woman, easily covered by his body that now dwarfed hers.

She wasted no time and reached between them and grabbed his cock, pressing it against her womanhood and pulling on his ass with her free hand. Much to his surprise, her pussy felt essentially the same, warm and a snug fit, and he shivered with pleasure as he slowly entered her, while she offered her customary sigh of enjoyment.

Once their hips were connected, she grabbed him with both hands and pulled him tightly against her, moaning slightly as he ground his hips against hers. Though this action didn’t seem to arouse her any further than when at her normal height, she nonetheless seemed to appreciate the feeling of his body covering more of hers. Strangely enough, though, his seven and a half inch penis was almost certainly pushing far deeper inside of her than it ever had, nothing really felt different about her at this size, aside from the fact that she was now small enough to kiss while making love, whereas before he wasn’t even big enough to reach her breasts while romantically connected.

He ground his pelvis against hers as hard as he could, eliciting a small moan from her, though the sensation for him was enough to nearly make him collapse on top of her out of pure bliss.

“Do not hold back,” she whispered headily to him, pulling harder on his hips, and then pushing him back.

He obeyed her bidding and began pumping himself in and out of her almost frantically, shivering each time she would offer a soft moan of pleasure, and slowing him only slightly when he would reach the edge of his limits, not really seeming to care whether he blew off prematurely or not. He was only a couple minutes into their love making when her pussy seemed to squeeze down around him and he exploded within her violently, nearly falling on top of her as his fluids gushed inside, then she calmly reached up and placed the palm of her hand against his chest, which suddenly glowed with a warm light and he was stunned as his rapidly deflating cock suddenly sprang to attention inside of her.

“Keep going,” she whispered, grabbing his hips and encouraging him to fuck her even harder and faster this time, again only lasting a few short minutes before bursting inside of her only to once again be instantly recharged by his lover. “Do not stop,” she said again, urging him on.

Once more he pounded her now tiny little pussy, going even harder and faster, and he exploded as soon as the sound of her moans increased, only to be immediately recharged. Again and again they repeated like this, each time Astravia’s pleasure growing audibly, but only slightly as he threw more and more caution into the wind given the fact that he was being offered infinite do-overs in their lovemaking session. They continued like this for over an hour before he was drenched in sweat and needed a chance to breath and lay on his back.

As he did so, Astravia rolled over and looked at him with a contented smile and petted his wet cheek. “You are not finished yet,” she whispered to him, which made him laugh nervously. She wasn’t content to let it rest like that, however and she grabbed his hand and pulled until he sat up and then followed her to the edge of the giant mattress and they jumped down together to the ground to be led to the bathroom, where she grew back to her normal fifteen foot size, turned on the faucet to rinse them both off in warm water and then she stood above him, allowing him to marvel at the view for a brief moment before she began shrinking back down to mortal size, leaning over to kiss him this time as she approached seven feet tall and wrapping her arms around him, kissing passionately as she dwindled in his arms, first to equal height, then down to average height for a woman and still down until she was back to that very petite 4’10” tall, where she had to crane her neck up in order to kiss him.

They continued to make out like this in the shower, Maceo slowly catching his wind until she felt he was ready and then she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled herself up so that she could wrap her legs around his hips and grind her still quite wet pussy against his cock once more.

“To the wall,” she bid him softly, so he cupped her ass in his hands and walked to the wall, pressing her back against it. She tensed slightly at the sensation of the cold tile against her back, but smiled and then wiggled her hips until the head of his cock was pressing against her vagina and she dropped herself down on it, drawing it within her.

She squeezed him tightly and then he began pounding her against the wall with his hips, which again caused her to moan softly and passionately, but sadly not with the same abandon he was fucking her with until he burst inside of her once again only to immediately feel the warm glow of her hands against his back which allowed him to continue on uninterrupted, over and over again until his legs finally gave out and he staggered and went into a slow, controlled fall to the ground, panting heavily, while she road him all the way down, squeezing him and bouncing against him herself now before he was nearly lying on his back and ejaculated in her once again uncontrollably.

He fell back, with her still riding on top of him, grinding him as his spent cock twitched uncontrollably, preparing to recede in exhaustion. As soon as it did, she fell down on top of him kissing him emphatically and refusing to allow him the respite he desperately needed as she smothered him with limitless affection.

A few minutes later, he was able to breath regularly again, though his heart was pounding so hard she could see his pulse in his chest. At this point, she stood up and pulled on him, bidding him to his feet again. He looked at her with disbelief but followed her faithfully as always as she grabbed a pair of towels and led him back to the bed where she lifted him up just as confusingly as she had the first time with him still not quite able to catch exactly how a 4’10” tall woman could pick him up so easily and step up casually onto the top of a mattress that was six feet above the ground.

Once they were safe and settled on top of her bed again and dry, she pounced on him and wouldn’t relent until he was again on his back and then she pressed her palm into his chest while she stroked his spent dick with her hand.

Yet again, he was immediately recharged and his cock stiffened quickly in her attentive grasp, giving her fresh opportunity to insert him into her to satisfy his desires.

This time, she chose to ride him while dragging herself up and down his body with her massive breasts swinging wildly and tantalizingly above his face. Occasionally, she would lower herself and bat his face with them, giggling as he stared as though he’d died and gone to heaven, then she would return to riding him, ever faster until yet again, he exploded his seed up into her. She gave him a moment to collect himself, then reinvigorated him once more and commenced fucking him, this time bouncing up and down wildly with her huge tits bouncing up all the way to her head.

Despite her newly small size and low weight, the force and vigor of her bouncing atop him had him bouncing quite energetically himself and he found himself very much merely along for the ride as his petite lover rode him for all he was worth until, yet again, he came loudly and forcefully up into her, making her grin sadistically at him, then press her palm to his chest, recharge him and then turn around to face his feet, lean her hands firmly on his thighs and then bounce her ass up and down in full view of him quickly and forcefully, giggling to herself as she listened to him moan low and loud from the sensation of her from this new and erotic angle.

Once he’d cum again, she switched back to the first position she’d ridden him from, sliding up and down his body with her breasts swinging wildly right in front of his eyes and then she cycled through the various positions she’d used on him since she’d laid him down to ride on into eternity.

She continued like this for nearly two hours until even with her constantly refreshing his seed, he found himself utterly exhausted and straining. “Okay… okay,” was all he could tell her in a pleading voice.

She grinned at him and petted his cheek. “One more time,” she promised him with a wink and then placed her hand on his chest, making it glow again. He looked up at her nervously then gasped as she began riding him even faster than before, quickly bringing him to his peak in less than a minute and then giving him an intense orgasm, only this time, she continually recharged him as he came, causing him to cum inside of her over and over and over again for a solid three minutes straight, each one growing louder and more intense as his seed gushed up into her and before long began overflowing back out of her and over his hips, oozing back down to the mattress.

He grabbed her hips and pulled down on her, screaming and bucking his hips upward so hard that even though he was gripping her tightly, she ran the risk of being thrown free of him, but through it all, she kept her hand on his chest, reinvigorating him over and over as the amount he came gradually built up to literally pour gallons inside of her in a mind boggling continuous orgasm the likes of which no mortal man had ever experienced.

Eventually, she decided that he’d had enough and she let go of his chest. His hips thrust up three more times, spewing his seed in a final blast before he collapsed back onto the mattress again in a heap, sweating and panting.

She grinned at him, quite satisfied with her work and laid down on top of him, not even bothering to pull him out of her and instead wiggling her hips to enjoy the sensation of him softening and receding within her.

She lay there, grinning down at him as his brain attempted to process the overwhelming torrent of sensations he’d experienced while making love to her and she wiped the sweat from his brow and kissed him encouragingly.

“Oh…my… Goddess,” he finally gasped, causing her to giggle and kiss him.

“Yes, my dearest Maceo?” she asked while tracing her fingertip on his chest.

“That was… that was…” She lifted her head and looked down at him, amused at his attempt to describe what had just happened.

“In all honesty, there are actually no words in your language to describe it. I am not boasting, I am simply stating.”

“You’re right about that,” he agreed, rapidly fading.

“Now, you have a small taste of what you did for me,” she praised him, kissing him, and smiling as he quickly fell asleep as she did so.

She then sat up and looked at the terrible mess left following their coital rampage, shook her head and with a wave of her hand, it all began to levitate and then flung itself into the bathroom to be disposed of.

She looked herself up and down and shook her head. “This is certainly the longest I have stayed like this,” she admitted to herself and then moved to stand and resize herself, but before she could do so, the slumbering Maceo rolled over and wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight.

At first, she was caught off guard and it showed in her expression as he spooned her, but once she had a chance to accept this mortal holding her in such a manner, she smiled and settled in to rest herself. She pulled her arms up over his and hugged them the same way he was hugging her petite body and then she closed her eyes, settling in for a peaceful and restful night.

The next morning, Maceo awoke slowly to the morning sunshine bathing his face. He crinkled his nose and yawned, then his brow furrowed at the sensation of another in his arms, so he opened his eyes to see Astravia lying there, still being spooned by him.

As soon as he stirred, she woke and turned her head to look at him and smiled. “I didn’t think you’d still be…” he said, a little startled to see her fitting in his arms.

“Shrunk?” she asked with a mirthful smile.

“Yeah,” he answered.

“I thought it best not to wake you,” she answered him, then rolled over with her expression softening as he squeezed his quite petite little lover tightly.

“It must have been boring just lying like that all night.”

“I slept,” she told him. “I was quite comfortable. You certainly were exhausted.”

“I think I came more last night than any man does in his entire life,” he pointed out.

“Are you complaining?”

“No,” he smiled, then kissed her. “It’s a little strange waking up holding you instead of vice versa,” he shared. Astravia smiled and snuggled into his arms.

“I suppose you will need time to recover,” she said with resignation, then she perked up immediately when he shifted his hips against hers, revealing he was hard once again. “Oh! I stand corrected,” she laughed.

“There might not be anything left down there though.”

“Men are lucky that way. They produce as much of it as they need as they need it. Women are the ones with a limited number on their eggs.”

“Somehow, I don’t really see you using your eggs with me,” he pointed out.

“I have had enough children in my time. Or at least, I do not wish to have any more any time soon. Does that trouble you?”

“No,” he answered happily. “I’m still a bit surprised though. I really didn’t expect to wake up and find you still…”

“Shrunk?”

“Petite,” he answered her.

“And why does it vex you so?” she laughed.

“Well… you’ve never reduced yourself down to mortal size before. At least not around me.”

“That is not entirely true. When I went to retrieve you from those thieves, I used this form so as to not reveal who I really was to your abductors. You were simply unconscious.”

“So they met you,” he determined. She nodded in response. “Why the need to use a disguise if you were just going to kill them?”

“I did not kill them.”

“You just let them go?”

“They have their punishments that they will have to live with,” she told him cryptically. “But you still have not told me why seeing me like this vexes you so.”

“In all the time I’ve known you you’ve never shown me yourself like this before, and I remember when we first met and you refused to shrink down to my size to walk with me. I guess I’d assumed you were… not a fan of being smaller.”

“I am merely happy with my normal form,” she lied. “If I change it is for a purpose. For instance, to soar the skies or to dive the depths. Truthfully, I would soar the skies merely by producing wings and using them, but being so out in the open also makes it easier for mortals to spot me, even in remote locations. It is better to fully disguise myself for that.”

“But you still don’t like shrinking down to this size,” he attempted to confirm, but she only smiled and kissed him.

“I enjoy my normal form, and I am happy with it. Why should I behave as though I were ashamed of being fifteen feet tall?”

“Well you shouldn’t, but you change forms so easily, but this one… it sounds like it’s one you have ready and waiting.”

“I have a number of forms that are… you may call them defaults. Myself as a hawk, myself as a mermaid, or even a dolphin, myself as a jungle cat, and on and on. This form is merely one of those. Myself as a mortal woman. I can take any form I choose, and I am limited only by my imagination. But those are forms I must create to use. You are correct. This form is always there and waiting for me. There is nothing wrong with shrinking down to your size. I am just simply content with my normal form,” she lied again.

“You seemed a little nervous to show me this form,” he pointed out.

“Well… I was wondering how you would react to a less perfect version of me,” she said.

“I see only perfection,” he insisted, then kissed her again.

“You are sweet,” she praised him and petted his cheek with her hand. “So do you like this form?”

“I don’t want to choose between a mortal form and your normal form. If you prefer to be your normal self, then you should be. I fell in love with you like that, after all.”

“You do not have to choose,” she assured him gently. “Answer me simply: do you like seeing me at this size?”

“There are… certain advantages,” he told her. She grinned and kissed him again.

“There certainly are,” she agreed. She took a deep breath, and then petted his cheek softly. “I will use this form more often,” she promised. “I enjoyed rediscovering how nice it was to lay in the arms of another. And though it is not quite as pleasurable for me making love to you like this, it is quite enjoyable to do so on the same level as you.”

“It’s still strange to me that I have a harder time pleasing you like this than in your normal form.”

“This is a package I have wrapped myself in. It is still me, but it is like sensation is not the same as in my normal form. And oh, did you please me, my dearest little Maceo. I hope you are willing to do so again. Soon,” she added with a wink.

“How about now?” he asked her with a matching wink. She grinned and giggled, but then settled back into his arms.

“I would like to enjoy this sensation for a while longer,” she told him, curling up and snuggling against his much larger body.
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