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A Star to Sail By

See this piece’s entry on the Shousetsu Bang*Bang wiki.

by Salem Fitzgerald

East Indies, 1750

The ship was wrecked in a storm. To tell the whole story would be pointless, unless it was to a listener who knew the craft and her crew and cargo and had a vested interest in every detail. Alfie had no such listener; he was lucky to have his life. He knew not how many of the other hands had survived. Perhaps he was the only one. Certainly he was the only one presently washing up on this sandy beach somewhere in the East Indies. He’d been carried here on a few planks of the wreckage, and as soon as he had gained land, he acted in the traditional fashion of all castaways and swooned in the sand.

When he awoke, his first thought was for water, and his second thought, cried aloud, was, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” as he threw himself back from a tall, dark-skinned man who stood over him, bent in investigation.

Alfie gaped. The man, frowning, looked around. He was wearing next to nothing—just a short, oddly wrapped skirt-like garment that fell to his knees. His body would have shamed a Grecian statue, for all it was so dark, and his black hair was quite long. He looked back at Alfie with his shockingly handsome face and asked, “Who are Jesus, Mary, and Joseph? You are the only one I see on my island.”

“Your island?” Alfie echoed stupidly. He was a bit distracted by the semi-nude man’s body—in a rather self-conscious way. Alfie rather thought his life as a sailor had been having a pleasing effect on his own body, but he was lean by nature and his muscles had not yet grown so impressive.

The man, unexpectedly, beamed and puffed out his considerable, and nude, chest. “Yes! I am Rankaligelvanshathali, the great god of all this land! I bid you welcome here, mortal, with my holy blessing.” He held out his hand, palm forward, two fingers raised, and hesitated, as if waiting for something.

Alfie stared.

Rankali-something-something blinked at him a few times, a polite smile frozen on his face. Then: “Shouldn’t you lean forward a bit so I can touch your forehead?” he whispered, helpfully.

Despite the steadfast composure of an Englishman, Alfie was too taken aback to think of any better response than to simply comply with this odd native, and the man smiled encouragingly when Alfie rose to his knees and leaned in.

The touch gave him a little shock, and Alfie immediately noticed that his clothing was all dry and clean and mended, his wounds gone, and his thirst considerably better. He had not regained the clothing he had lost—he was still most indecent in only his breeches and undershirt—but he was as neat in those as if he were at home in England, and only just begun dressing for the day.

This put a serious dent in Alfie’s doubt about this man. Whatever mad claims he’d just made, clearly they were not to be dismissed out of hand. He blinked, rising to his feet—and finding he still had to look up at the stranger, to his annoyance. “What did you say your name was?” he managed to ask.

“Rankaligelvanshathali, son of the goddess Thaliashanavanelanelika!” He stood in a proud pose, exclaiming this. “I have all power over everything within my domain! You are truly fortunate, mortal…ah.” He smiled, dropping his aggrandizing. “I forgot to ask your name?”

“Alfred,” he managed in response. As none of his fellow-sailors were present, he’d be damned if he’d self-inflict the nickname they always called him by.

“Alfred!” Rank-something-something cried happily. “A foreign name, to be sure! Oh, what land do you hail from? What language do you speak? I suppose you understand me, because after all I’m a god, though I’ve probably never heard of your people. Do I seem to speak your language quite eloquently? I’m always curious how I sound to foreign mortals.”

He frowned, half confused, half bemused. “You speak English…” Like I do. “…fluently,” he agreed.

“Of course I do,” the stranger beamed. “Now then, Alfred! I have blessed your arrival, and here you are in my domain—my very first subject! You must ask me for things—anything you need, don’t be shy—and I shall work out how much divine favor I should bestow upon you.” His voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper: “I don’t doubt it will be quite a lot, at least at first. It’s such fun to have a subject at last!”

Too much sea water, Alfred thought, or sunstroke. Probably that. “Well…sorry, what was your name again?”

“Rankaligelvanshathali!”

“Ran…Rank…li…?”

“Rankaligelvanshathali!” Correction came, totally undeterred.

“Ranka…vathi…i?”

“Rankaligelvanshathali!” The man still smiled. He seemed to never tire of announcing his name.

Alfred sighed, frustrated. “See here, can I just call you Ranka?”

A blink. “Oh…well, I don’t see why not. If that makes worshiping me easier…yes, yes!” He brightened again. “Yes, I bestow the blessing of calling me Ranka upon you, Alfred, my loyal subject!”

Alfred opened his mouth, paused, and shut it again. Then, nodding, he passed the point over. “Very well. I…thank you, Ranka. And if I may ask further?”

Absolute delight. “Yes, yes! Ask anything! My people shall know my great kindness and favor! I might have to require an offering of some sort if it’s a very big request, but you’ll find all sorts of food on the island, and I won’t make you work too long on building the first altar, so don’t trouble about that at all, just ask, ask!”

Alfred smiled patiently. “Wonderful. Can you send me back home to England?”

Ranka’s expression fell. “Oh.”

“You can’t?” Alfred supposed he shouldn’t have expected otherwise from this eccentric native, but his clothing had given him cause to wonder…

With a little wheedle creeping into his voice, Ranka began, “But you don’t want to leave, surely! The island has every possible bounty! And I can add anything that might be lacking! You’ll have the most wonderful life here! I’m the nicest god you could imagine serving!”

“So, you can’t send me back? Or you won’t?”

Shoulders slumping: “I don’t want to, but it makes little difference, because I truly can’t. I’m only master of my own domain, which is this island. This glorious island!” he declared, his former exuberance briefly returning before fading back to a more steady expression. “I have no idea how near or far your homeland is, but I cannot get you there. Even if it were the next nearest island, I could not carry you beyond these shores to reach it.”

“Then, can you make me a boat?”

Ranka blinked at him. “A…what?”

“A boat! A ship! A sea vessel!” he cried in exasperation. “What else do you use to cross the sea?”

Ranka cocked his head to the side a little. “Ah…a sea monster? Naturally?”

“You don’t know what a ship is?”

“Should I?”

Alfred rubbed his head. “Can I borrow a sea monster to ride back to England, then?” This is madness. Pure madness.

But Ranka laughed. “Ah, no. It would eat you. Poor mortal.”

Finally losing all patience, Alfred burst out, “But I must get home! I must get back to England, and my family, and…and even if I haven’t quite made my fortune I really must get back to Martha to at least secure her promise to wait a little longer, or she’ll marry George Dunn before I can make sure she doesn’t, and if she hears I’m lost at sea she’ll definitely marry George Dunn and then where will I be?!”

“Here on my island?” Ranka ventured.

Alfred turned and stormed off.

~o~

The beach turned out to be an excellent one for storming. It just went on and on, away and away, and when Ranka didn’t follow, Alfred just kept stomping. Eventually, no longer as energetically frustrated, and more curious about where he was, he began to simply walk—steady, wandering, persevering on and on along the beach, wondering if he might come upon a settlement or something eventually. Surely, Ranka was just a native from an odd little tribe (Alfred did not think about his ability to speak English so perfectly, if that were the case), and he’d find the village sooner or later.

Hours later, as the sun began to set, Alfred found…a few planks. And footprints—leading away from him.

He’d circled the whole island. No village, no hope it wasn’t an island after all. He sat down in the sand and stared out at the sea and the setting sun.

“You stopped walking!”

Alfred jumped. Ranka was there beside him, having come up silently…and unseen, somehow. “God in Heaven!” he yelped.

“No, I’m right here,” Ranka patiently corrected. Then: “Are you hungry? You could pray for me to supply you with food, and I could create a bountiful feast!”

Sighing at the man, Alfred mumbled wearily, “You’re awfully proud of this place, but it’s only a very little island. If this is all you have, how can you call yourself a god?”

Unexpectedly, that seemed to strike a nerve. Ranka’s face fell. “I’m…I am a god. I’m a member of the divine race, that’s all that matters. And having even a little island is a good sight better than none! I waited centuries for this place, you know! Do you have any idea how hard it is to find territories for gods? We’re immortal! No one ever dies, and it takes forever for a god to retire and free up a spot for someone new to take over. I’m fortunate to finally have a place of my own at all, and now I’ve got a mortal subject too! Today should be a wonderful day, don’t you see? Do you have to go and ruin it?”

The plea was so heartfelt, and Alfred was so tired that he felt his heart soften a little. “I’m sorry,” he offered. “It’s just…I nearly died today. I’m not at my best.”

With an overwhelming rush of the most earnest hope, Ranka offered, “Then let me help! Whatever comforts you need to rest and be better, I can provide them! I’m a god! I want to provide for you, that’s what gods do. It’s utterly pointless to be divine if you don’t have mortals with their mortal needs to fulfill!” He jumped to his feet, reaching for Alfred’s hand. “Come! Tell me what you would like! Never mind about sacrifices and prayers for now—just tell me!”

Alfred let himself be pulled to his feet. He sighed. Apart from a ship home, he supposed he could think of some comforts that would improve his spirits after the shipwreck. He regarded the possibility that Ranka was really a god and could really provide for him to be remote, at best. He was certainly enthusiastic, and possessed of a certain…godlike perfection in many ways. Alfred cleared his throat and stepped back. Rising had put his face rather too close to Ranka’s chest—one such example of his perfections. “I suppose a mince pie and a pint of ale would hearten me considerably,” he admitted. Then, glancing around: “And as night is coming on, perhaps some sort of shelter…”

“Shelter!” Ranka began to pull him up the beach toward the jungle—not the most impenetrable jungle Alfred had ever seen, but certainly nothing to be attempted without means of assuring one’s safety. “I can make a lovely shelter,” he began, then turned back in confusion, “but what’s mince pie?”

Alfred sighed again. “Never mind.” For a god, his information certainly seems painfully local. “Meat and drink was all I meant, I suppose.”

A huge grin. “I can certainly do that!”

Two steps into the jungle, he did.

Alfred was at a loss to explain it. He didn’t precisely see the pavilion appear before them, but he was sure the jungle was no so dense that it could have hidden…this. He looked back. Yes, he could still clearly see the beach through a thin barrier of trees. He should have noticed this massive pavilion, with gilded pillars supporting a huge curving roof, and with heavy swaths of silk hanging between the pillars in lieu of walls. Ranka brushed the silk aside and ushered him into a massive room that was half banquet hall, half garden, and half boudoir…somehow. Fountains flowed, flowers bloomed, tables laden with unimaginable foods were everywhere—all of it artfully laid out along smooth paths of decorative mosaic, with opulent couches and massive cushions everywhere. Alfred stood and stared.

Ranka smiled. “Come, eat and drink and rest from your ordeal!” He pulled Alfred toward a couch in the center of it all. “Come, let them serve you!”

Alfred fwumped into the incredibly plush couch and blinked. “Them?” But Ranka didn’t explain, and in a moment, he didn’t need to.

Servants came fourth, choosing dishes and goblets of drink, and began to file their way toward him. Alfred stared at them in horrified fascination. He should, perhaps, have averted his eyes, as a good Englishman…but after all, he was no lord. He was only a midshipman. And the servants, though decked richly in jewelry and sometimes a thin scrap of colorful scarf, were really quite naked, for the most part.

There were women, with bodies such as he’d never dreamed of and could scarcely bring himself to admire. There were also men—young men, lithe and even more beautiful than the women, and wearing just as little. He had a full view of naked hindquarters and pricks of every size—some delicate little things, curling sweetly; some thick and long and inclined to make an average man feel inadequate. But that was not all.

Some of the servants were both male and female—generous breasts with dark, peaked nipples above, and heavy pricks and testicles below.

And then, even more shocking—not all of them seemed entirely human.

Some had furry ears, and some most definitely had tails, and even whiskers on their faces. One was a serpent from the waist down, and another hand wings, and another was surely a satyr, and another was surely a centaur, and the genitals of these creatures defied humanity just as much as the rest of their bodies. Alfred found it all quite alarming, and felt himself grow quite warm as he watched these creatures bring him foods he didn’t recognize and drink he knew nothing of, except that by the scent it was alcoholic—so he took it and quaffed it at once.

It was, indeed, alcohol, but definitely not ale.

Happily, Ranka encouraged him to try the many foods offered by the nude serving…people. Alfred found some of them delicious, some unbearably spicy, and some downright strange. But he ate, and eating did hearten him a little. The strange alcohol heartened him quite a bit more.

“Where’d all these people come from?” he asked, reclining on the couch. Ranka had taken one beside him, and the servants served him too. Alfred watched, hypnotized, as a lovely young man with cat ears brought them both a tray of fruit. “Where did you…find them?”

“Hmm? Them?” Ranka took some grapes. “They aren’t people.”

Alfred failed to attend and take grapes himself, and the beautiful feline boy plucked one for him and held it forward. “What? What do you mean they aren’t people?”

“They aren’t real. I mean, they’re solid, like this pavilion or the food. You can touch them all you like. But they won’t really speak, because they haven’t any thoughts.”

The cat-boy pressed the grape to Alfred’s mouth, interrupting his exclamation of shock. He almost choked, then tried to chew and swallow quickly. The cat-boy’s fingers traced his lips briefly before he took up another grape with a sweet expression. Alfred blushed. He had to avoid the next offering to say, “In that case, I wish they were gone.”

Every servant, no matter the distance, near or far, looked up at him. Then, immediately, they turned and filed out of the pavilion, leaving Alfred alone with Ranka. The god gave him an odd look. “What did you do that for? Now you’ll have to get up and fetch things for yourself if you want any more.”

“I’m quite alright,” he mumbled. He was relieved by the end of the rather vulgar display, but keenly aware, though his mind swam with alcohol, of the amount of flesh still on display beside him. “I can feed myself,” he asserted.

“Well, yes,” Ranka admitted, “but concubines are for more than that, you know.” Then, before Alfred could answer in his shock, he added, “Did you not like any of them? I could make others. You’ll definitely have to offer some sort of sacrifice for it, but I can make you a perfect companion if you tell me what you like.”

“I…what…that’s…I’m…I’m engaged to be married!” he burst out. “Engaging in anything carnal with another would be the height of infidelity!”

“Oh.” Ranka seemed to consider this. “I suppose I can’t really agree,” he finally said. “They may look alive, but they really aren’t. They’re mainly toys, really.” He smiled a little and shrugged. “I like the centaur quite a bit, myself. Not that I want to be plowed by such a massive cock every time, but he is a favorite when I want variety.”

Alfred could say nothing to this. If his ears could be trusted and the words believed, the sense of it seemed to be that…that Ranka allowed himself to be…sodomized, if he could call it that, by a male…creature, if not quite a man. Alfred was entirely shocked. All his ideas about Ranka aside, Alfred had never allowed any of the sailors to have their way with him like that—and many of them had been after it, during the long months at sea. He’d been a cabin boy until recently, when he’d finally so outgrown the role that the captain had been forced to allow him to advance to a midshipman, and bring on a new cabin boy. That boy was too young for the sailors’ attention, however—at least most of them, and the one or two who might have considered it were carefully watched by the others. Buggering a child was a hateful thing, and on Alfred’s ship the captain would never allow it; the sailor who attempted it would soon die mysteriously. But buggering a young man of Alfred’s age, apparently, was quite another thing, and many of those who protected the new cabin boy could also be counted among the men seeking to persuade Alfred—Alfie—into their bunks for a night.

Well, and so what if Alfred hadn’t done much with women, whether in any port of call or anywhere else? And so what if he’d never terribly missed it? He had his pride as a man! And the other sailors were his peers, and even if he sometimes, perhaps, just a little bit let himself imagine it—in very private moments—he would not allow himself to descend to the role of a piece of shared entertainment for the other men. He knew how it would be. Once he gave in to one, he’d have most of the ship wanting his time before long, and he’d never be respected as a fellow hand before the mast again.

And now! To hear a man such as Ranka—a gorgeous man, perfect in every limb and every detail of his form—so casually imply that he enjoyed letting himself be buggered by goodness-knew-what!  Alfred had, in short, never been so shocked in his life. This, unfortunately, did not forestall his mind quickly painting a picture for him of the act in question. The centaur was gone, but Alfred could remember his look, and as he stared at Ranka aghast, he could almost see the centaur climbing over him, pushing his legs apart and…!

“Sweet Mother Mary,” he whispered.

“What about your mother?” Ranka frowned, looking around.

Alfred mutely shook his head.

Ranka still looked confused, but he shrugged. “Well, if you don’t like the servants…” He glanced at Alfred, a little sparkle in his eyes. “I suppose you have a wife-to-be. Pity.” His gaze slipped down Alfred’s body, then up again to his suddenly even redder face. “If you wanted to be my consort, I would certainly accept you.”

“You would…I mean…your what?

“My consort.” Ranka looked at him in surprise at his astonishment, and perhaps a little wounded by it. “Naturally, gods take mortal lovers all the time. I suppose making you my consort is a bit more than that, but there isn’t anyone else here, and it would make a lovely legend, don’t you think?” He smiled. “After your shipwreck and all? In the retelling, I’d descend from the heavens and rescue you from the sea, and then you’d become my lover, and then as I lay sleeping beside you one night, you’d be watching me sleep—all admiring and adoring me, of course—and you’d see a scorpion or some other deadly thing about to strike me, and you’d protect me from its sting, but you’d get stung yourself, and I’d wake to find you dying upon my breast…” Ranka was no longer smiling; his eyes welled with tears that quickly spilled down his cheeks. “And then I’d turn you into a flower to save your life, and water you with my tears every day, until the solstice banquet of the gods came, and my great mother, Thaliashanavanelanelika, would pity her son’s broken heart that kept me miserable through all the festivities, and she would resurrect you to life in your human body and make you immortal like me, and then we would ascend together to the realm of the gods to live in bliss and ecstasy for all eternity.” He smiled happily, blinking tears from his eyes and sniffling. “Oh, and there would be two stars in the heavens to show us eternally side by side.” He sighed wistfully.

Alfred just stared, jaw agape. “You’re…mad.”

Surprise again. “You don’t think it’s a wonderful legend? I don’t mean it would happen just like that, but surely we’d end up in the realm of the gods together eventually. I can’t imagine letting you grow old and die; I value you much too highly for that. I mean,” he added, “if you were my mortal lover, not simply a subject.”

“But how could you want…me?A man, he didn’t say. “…For your lover?”

Baffled, Ranka smiled at him. “Why shouldn’t I want you for a lover? You’re a beautiful young man.” Then, suddenly, he rolled over and sprang up from his couch, and the next moment he was kneeling on Alfred’s, bending over him. Approaching. “You’re so delightfully fair-skinned, and your body” —his hand touched Alfred’s chest; suddenly, the shirt felt impossibly thin— “is lovely. Strong and well-formed—so desirable. I would delight in giving you pleasure for the rest of eternity.”

And, with that said—murmured, really—Ranka leaned even closer, and his lips brushed Alfred’s mouth, which still hung open incredulously.

Alfred’s pulse skyrocketed. For a breathless moment, he stared at that much-too-close, gorgeous face as Ranka softly pressed his mouth with warm lips. His eyes were closed at first, but then they opened—just a sliver—and there was such a smile in them…and Ranka’s hand came up and cradled the side of Alfred’s face, and his eyes slipped closed again…

A shudder ran through Alfred’s whole body, causing him to produce a mortifying little noise, and his eyes fell shut—and the kiss continued. Ranka’s lips, folded together with his own, tasted so sweet. He shifted, deepening the caress, and the couch shifted with his weight as he bridged over Alfred. Fingers brushed through Alfred’s hair, pulled him closer, stroked down the side of his throat. Every touch tingled and sent his racing heartbeat higher. Alfred was soon melting, sliding downward, and Ranka followed. He slid down to the side, lying beside Alfred, one leg still thrown over his lap, and Alfred turned his head to continue the deep, lingering kisses. Ranka’s arm was around him, and Alfred, without realizing it, reached for Ranka as well, and felt the warm, bare skin of his chest and sides and back—an addicting, smooth heat under his hands.

With a little exhale, Ranka sighed into his mouth—a little pleasured sound escaping him that electrified Alfred. He pulled Alfred closer, and the kiss became a little more urgent—hungrier. Alfred felt nothing but agreement with this desire, and his answering touches became, unbeknownst to him, quiet nearly desperate for several long moments. He pulled Ranka tight against him, and he felt the vibration of Ranka’s moan against his mouth…and then Alfred realized what else he was feeling.

Ranka’s hips were pressed to his thigh, and there was a hard shape between them, there. Alfred, at the same moment, became aware of a remarkable tightness in his own trousers—and he promptly froze, with a sharp inhale, as his eyes shot open. Impossible…!

Dark eyes blinked open and lips left his, but only to remove a short distance. Ranka regarded him with nothing but tenderness and a little confusion. “What’s the matter?” he murmured, gently brushing back Alfred’s hair again.

Jerking away from his touch, Alfred could only stammer, “I…you can’t…I can’t…” He scooted desperately back, mortified at once by the shock of sensation this caused to his trapped prick. “This is not…I didn’t mean…oh, God!”

And, gaining his feet, he fled the pavilion.

Ranka, left blinking on the couch, responded, “Yes?” But Alfred barely heard him, already hurrying blindly into the jungle.

~o~

In a tragically short space of time, Alfred was quite lost.

It was foolish, really, to flee into the jungle at all. Night had fallen, and even with a moon, he couldn’t see any further than he could spit. But Alfred thought only of a terrible need to get himself away from Ranka as quickly as possible, and until he was quite hopelessly lost and surrounded by black jungle, he thought of nothing else.

Then, he wondered what he should do now. It was useless to think of navigating this place in the dark. If he wanted to find the beach again, he’d be forced to wait for daylight. Casting about himself, Alfred found nothing better than a hollow in a fallen tree, a few dry leaves over the mossy bark. His bed for the night chosen, he lay down and tried to sleep—and his body immediately recalled the soft, luxurious couch so recently abandoned. This, of course, brought to mind every detail of what had passed on that couch, and Alfred, though he tried not to think of it, naturally had to think of it. And then, just as naturally, he found himself in the same embarrassing condition he’d tried to escape.

He resisted his body as long as he could—but even an Englishman had needs that brooked no discussion of propriety and civilized behavior. Alfred was compelled, at last, to give in—to thrust his hand into his own trousers, to grasp his aching prick, and to moan aloud as he feverishly stroked himself and tried to pretend he was thinking of…well, not Martha. It would be the height of impropriety to think lustfully of the honorable woman he meant to marry. Fallen women, perhaps. Whores he’d seen in ports of call…though not slept with, generally, out of lack of interest and a most rational caution against the pox.

That thought drove such women quickly from his mind, and he went instead to the servants in the pavilion. The beautiful girls who looked like cats…the round bosoms…the…the ones with beautiful, shapely backsides and soft, appealing pricks, only slightly obscured by sheer silks…

He moaned. Surely it didn’t matter—they were illusions, fever dreams, and as long as they had breasts it wasn’t…!

And then there were the part-animal ones, the satyr and the—Oh God, the centaur…! These did not have any female features to excuse his thoughts, and worse still, the centaur brought fresh images of Ranka—Ranka, nude. Ranka, bent forward over a couch. Ranka, pinned under the sweaty, heaving body of that beast, opened by his massive cock, moaning and writhing under every powerful thrust…!

Alfred sobbed, his prick burning—but it was not this image that did him in. For he soon turned the tables in his mind, and it wasn’t Ranka beneath the centaur anymore. It was himself beneath Ranka, gazing up at his beautiful face and his perfect body all covered in sweat as Ranka thrust between his legs, and oh…!

With a tattered gasp, Alfred ejaculated into his hand. To a man who rarely indulged the flesh, even a mild orgasm was exceptional—and this was not mild. It was the height of his experience with pleasure thus far, and it left him shaking for many minutes, fading waves of heat still trembling through his body.

A rational mind must, in time, attempt to reassert itself. Alfred’s did not come forward at once—too baffled by all the preceding day’s events—but eventually, he had to face himself. And, in counting all things up, he came to the conclusion that it was imperative that he get off this island and get back to Martha and marry her before something truly inexcusable happened.

Although…after all, it wouldn’t be the same as…well, with a sailor. Ranka was not a fellow hand before the mast—not someone he worked alongside. Capitulating to Ranka would not lose him a great deal of general respect among his fellow men. Indeed, would any of his fellow men ever know a thing about it? And…and no sailor, even the most importunate, had ever tried to kiss him as an inducement to share his bunk. They never seemed to think of kissing him at all—at least, not anywhere above the shoulders, so to speak. And Ranka…Ranka’s kisses…

Lingering, sweet, pleasuring, unhurried… Alfred swallowed. Yes, there had been more—and that “more” had frightened him and shocked him. But that had only come after so much kissing that…well, Alfred had been in the same state, so how could he blame Ranka for it?

With such ideas in his head, Alfred fell, exhausted, into a fitful sleep—tormented, naturally, by the most carnal dreams of his life.

~o~

The weary and dream-haunted midshipman woke, not in a hollow of a tree, but upon a downy bed that stretched out around him to a frankly irresponsible size. The blankets and sheets were so soft Alfred did not know what to call their material, and as he lifted his groggy head from a heavenly pillow and looked around, he found himself in a smaller, more intimate version of the previous pavilion.

This, he supposed, proved he was involved with some magical creature. Alfred hesitated to admit a god, but he knew he could not have been moved here from his tree without waking, so light was his sleep. Ranka had summoned this around him—and was nowhere in sight at the moment. “Thank God,” Alfred murmured, and then yelped as Ranka appeared out of thin air, sitting at the foot of his bed.

“You’re welcome!” he beamed. “Food?”

Promptly, two servants came in—not the whole line of them, like before—and brought platters from a few small tables. Alfred colored deeply to realize it was only the centaur and the cat-boy now—not a curving breast in sight. As obscene as such a thing was, he almost regretted it. Bare female bosoms might help calm him down and distract him from the cat-boy’s pretty prick, or the stallion’s cock, or the idea of what hid and sometimes hardened beneath that skirt-wrap thing Ranka wore.

Ranka was saying: “…really going to have to offer some prayers of thanks later, to be quite appropriate, but it’ll do for now. Oh!” He snapped. “I’ll show you the right tree, you can peel the bark and burn it for incense. You’ll have to do it all yourself, it wouldn’t be an obeisance if I just gave it to you.” He waved the cat-boy to bring drink to Alfred after his own goblet was full. “Anything else you want, while I’m at it?”

Alfred tried not to notice the cat-boy leaning much closer than necessary and…purring? Was he purring? “I want a ship,” he sighed.

Ranka winced. “I still don’t know what that is. Can you draw me a picture?”

“I mean,” he added, “I want to go home. I want to leave. I’ll need a sea vessel for that, and how can you possibly not know what a ship is?”

“I’ve been in the realm of the gods,” Ranka defended himself, crestfallen. “We don’t travel on the water. We travel between the stars sometimes, on great curved basins of glass, with sails filled with sunlight. Do you mean something like that?”

Despite the astounding picture this painted, Alfred had to nod. “Yes…perhaps something like that. But our basins are wooden, and not round but long.” He grabbed a shallow bowl of fruit and gestured over it, drawing out the sides to show a bow and stern. “And the wind fills our sails and pushes us along the water.”

“How strange,” Ranks murmured, but he was slowly beginning to smile. “And yet…the wind lifts the birds’ wings. Why should it not push you forward?” Then he frowned. “But you would sink into the sea!”

“No, wood floats on water,” Alfred explained, and he cast about for something to demonstrate with. But alas, everything around him seemed to be made of gold or silver. God help me. “Um,” he concluded lamely, “that’s why you make the boat of wood.”

“I see,” Ranka nodded. “And this is the vessel you were on before, that brought you here and was wrecked?”

“More or less.” Alfred looked hopeful. “Do you think you can make one?”

“I can make anything,” Ranka boasted, puffing up his chest—his perfect chest—proudly.

Unfortunately, he seemed a little over-confident this time. They went to the sea together, and Ranka created—out of thin air—a wooden monstrosity that promptly rolled over and washed ashore. It wasn’t even hollow—just a great fallen tree with another tree growing out one side like a mast, which pulled it right over without any fuss.

Alfred was at great pains to remind Ranka that being hollow was important, and his next effort was a massive, oddly lightweight wooden ball—hollow inside, but entirely round, and Ranka forgot the mast and sail entirely, but the thing sat so shallowly in the water that the wind quickly blew it out to sea.

After several more corrections, some sketches in the sand, and a few more creative disasters, Alfred decided to simply request the materials and tools and build the ship himself. Ranka agreed, though he was no longer cheerful about any of it, and he insisted Alfred make a little stone altar and say some prayers and pick some flowers to leave as an offering. He was doing entirely too much for free, he said, with a significant glance at Alfred as he reminded him he was presently a mortal subject on his island.

Alfred turned very red and pretended not to hear. He wasn’t blushing. He was sunburnt.

He continued to be sunburnt often over the next few days. Ranka moved the little pavilion so that it was just on the edge of the beach—or he recreated it there. He provided materials, with better success than his attempt to provide a finished boat, and he sometimes said he’d done enough for free, and Alfred made him some offerings. Ranka always seemed delighted with this and exuberantly provided whatever was asked, to the best of his ability. Alfred set about working on a plan for a ship large enough to carry provisions for a journey of unknown length, yet small enough to be handled by himself alone.

Meals were luxurious—not at all traditional for Alfred’s castaway status. The servants returned, and varied, but nearly all the completely female ones filtered away. Alfred couldn’t help but feeling, at times, that Ranka was watching him, testing him. Observing where his eyes lingered, trying to guess his preferences. For Ranka was always present, sharing meals with him or watching from the pavilion when Alfred worked. Evenings, especially, were quite un-castaway-like, for there was food and drink and luxury and even music. Ranka played several instruments that Alfred did not know the names of, and their music was strange, but very beautiful. Ranka never required persuasion to play for him. Simply asking was enough.

Sometimes, reclining in luxury, blurry with drink and tired and well-fed and comfortable, Alfred watched Ranka play and quite forgot why he was trying to get away from here. Why should he ever wish to leave? Why was it, again? Oh yes, Martha. England. Home. Marriage…and not being sodomized by a gorgeous minor deity. Of course. Though if one were to be sodomized, one could hardly do better. And really, did Ranka count as a man? He wasn’t mortal, apparently. So maybe it wasn’t sodomy at all? Capital idea, quite so, quite so. Not sodomy at all. Just very…well, out of the question all the same, really. Even though Ranka was full of promises for his future mortal lover—whomever should accept the role. Pleasure and care and mind-boggling passion—Ranka did not sell himself short—and adoration and affection and eternal life too, probably. A most auspicious estate for the lady…for whomever should come to it.

The bewitching music of the flute Ranka played trailed off and stopped. Alfred blinked. Ranka was smiling at him, and suddenly, though he was sitting across from Alfred, it felt as though he were much closer. “Hmm?” Alfred eloquently inquired.

A slow smile. “Have you any idea how you are looking at me right now, my lovely mortal subject?”

“Hmm?” was his intelligent rejoinder.

Ranka smiled wider, set his flute aside, and rose. His body moved so gracefully. Alfred was quite entranced by it. Then, suddenly, he was crawling toward Alfred across the expanse of the bed—Oh yes, I had dinner in bed because…because…

“You are intoxicated, I think,” Ranka murmured. He was so very close now, bridged over Alfred, and Alfred’s heart was hammering rapidly.

“Hmm,” he agreed most sagaciously.

Logically, Ranka replied with a kiss.

It was deeper than before, right from the start. A deeper press of tongue, and it seemed to reach so much deeper into Alfred. He tried to wrap his arms around Ranka’s strong back, but his lax muscles only went halfway, and his hands wrapped around thick upper arms instead. Ranka’s mouth moved down, his tongue and lips caressing Alfred’s throat. He sucked, and Alfred shivered and gasped and tightened his grip. All he thought of was yes, this and yes, more.

“May I spend the night with you, Alfred?”

Hmm,” he declared, nodding.

Ranka pulled back from him and smiled. His hands fell to his only clothing, which he unwrapped and tossed aside—Alfred knew not where. He was staring at Ranka revealed—his dark-skinned prick soft, and most appealing. Alfred reached toward it…

But Ranka caught his hand and stopped him. He lifted and turned it and kissed Alfred’s palm. “None of that, my beloved. Not tonight.” Then, as Alfred failed to process this, Ranka lay down beside him in the nude. “You may sleep in your clothes or not—whatever you like. I never do, but that’s of no matter to your choice.”

Finally finding words, Alfred mumbled, “I ought to undress, hadn’t I? For the…intercourse?”

A grin. “Tomorrow, if you like. Not while you’re drunk. Think only of preparing for sleep, now.”

Alfred was confused by all this, which seemed so at odds with  the delectably naked man beside him in bed. But alcohol made him pliable, and he hummed and relaxed. Ranka pulled the covers over them and curled his nude body close. Alfred soon drifted off like that, listening to a deep voice murmur, “…such a sweet and beautiful man. Oh, I hope you still feel this way in the morning. I hope those eyes you’ve cast upon me aren’t just the drink…”

~o~

Ranka was still there when Alfred woke—and still naked, and still asleep, for now. Alfred didn’t feel really well, naturally, but he didn’t feel entirely terrible either. The first thing he saw was Ranka’s beautiful face, soft with sleep, and the second—when he looked up—was the cat-boy, beckoning him toward a full and steaming tub.

That in itself, though it looked delightful, wouldn’t have tempted Alfred to rise just yet, except the cat-boy also had a beautiful glass goblet that looked to hold water, which Alfred found a most agreeable offer. He slipped out of Ranka’s arms and went.

The water refreshed him greatly and the slight headache he’d woken with began to abate. The bath cleansed him and relaxed him, though Alfred could not keep his eyes from constantly wandering back to his bed and the nude man sleeping there. He remembered, by pieces, the night before. He knew very well nothing had happened between them, and he was nearly as sure that he’d been all but inviting the very act itself. He was amazed at himself, quite unable to account for it all—until he looked back at Ranka.

Yes, it was coming to a point, wasn’t it? When he looked at that man, it was impossible to deny the feelings that rose within him—both in his body and his heart. He liked Ranka, for all he was so odd. It was rather like a puppy’s charms—so pretty, and so eager to please that he felt inclined to dote upon it and give it a treat. Not that…intercourse should be undertaken as a reward for the comforts Ranka had bestowed upon him. No, not that. But the affection he felt from Ranka caused a natural, matching affection to rise in him.

And, after all, the man was so tempting. Alfred’s heart sped up even now, picturing himself in Ranka’s arms, wrapped up in a carnal ecstasy he’d always denied ever wanting.

And most of all, Ranka had not taken him up on his drunken invitation. Sailors had tried to get him drunk for that very purpose, intent upon buggering him the moment he could no longer fight them. That Ranka was different in one more respect from such men was perhaps the final point in his favor.

Thus—washed, hydrated, and wrapped in a soft robe provided by the cat-boy—Alfred left the bath and passed near the bed as he went back to where he’d left his clothing.

A strong arm reached out and looped itself around his hips, though not powerfully, as it could have. Lax with sleep, Ranka reeled him closer to the bed. Alfred submitted to the pull, finding Ranka glancing up at him with a smile. The blanket lay so low upon his hips…

“Are you finally waking?” he asked.

Ranka’s eyes roamed up and down him. His arm remained where it was around Alfred’s hips, and his other hand came up to Alfred’s waist. Alfred made not the slightest move away. “Are you finally capitulating?” he murmured back with a teasing smile.

“I think I did that last night,” Alfred sighed. His behavior had surely been indecorous.

“Oh no,” Ranka denied. “That was nothing. But if you like my touch now, I think I might pull you back into this bed and spend the whole day touching you.”

Nervously, Alfred bit his lip, steeled himself, and leaned down over Ranka and kissed him.

His kiss was eagerly returned, with a merry laugh into his mouth as well, and Ranka’s arms wrapped around him and pulled him down onto the bed, even as Ranka rolled on top of him. This uncovered Ranka—not that Alfred could see, with their bodies pressed close. He was only…aware.

“I…think I ought to tell you…” Alfred mumbled into Ranka’s continuing kisses, “I haven’t ever done this…this sort of…thing with a…man, before.”

“Ah, is that why you were frightened?” Then, Ranka frowned. “Wait…why not?”

“Well, it’s” —he swallowed, his hand smoothing down that perfect chest— “not really proper…in my country…” Alfred trailed off, distracted.

Ranka, mercifully, didn’t press. Alfred wasn’t inclined to thoughtful conversation at the moment. “Well, in my country, which this is, you shall have every pleasure I can supply. A considerable promise.” He winked. Then he kissed Alfred again, and the discussion seemed closed.

Gentle hands parted the folds of Alfred’s robe as Ranka continued kissing him, pushing the material back and exposing his body. With very little ado, they were soon pressed skin to skin. It was a startling development, made more so by the evidence of Ranka’s desire proven in his ready erection. Alfred’s own prick stirred eagerly. His mind was a jumble of all the forbidden acts he’d ever heard spoken of—or only hinted. Ranka pressed their hips together, and Alfred gasped and then moaned into his deep kiss.

Alfred found it all very soon overwhelming. He tried to hold still and he couldn’t; he tried to touch every part of Ranka’s body at once and he couldn’t; he kissed with too much passion, and his legs got tangled in the sheets, and he kept slipping the wrong way so that Ranka had to shift to realign their pricks and press them together again. But then, perhaps Ranka was no more composed. His kisses, once tender and sweet, fast became ravenous now, aggressive and overpowering and exactly the match to Alfred’s mood. Ranka’s hands, likewise, sought and touched him everywhere, stroking his skin and gripping his body, pulling them together ever tighter—certainly not helping them keep untangled. He eventually kicked the sheets away with an impatient grunt, and for a moment, as he was up on his knees, Alfred had a full view of the man he’d been touching.

He shuddered. Every muscle so perfect, every inch a man to be desired…and his cock speaking of an equal desire on his part. Then Ranka grinned at him and crawled close again—like a predator. Alfred shivered. He was naked and aroused in a giant bed with a beautiful man who was also naked and aroused and he wanted to shout to the heavens that he was never quitting this bed for the rest of his life.

A hand slipped under the small of his back, slid down over his buttocks, and fingers probed into the crevice. They were slick and slippery with something wet as they traced around and around his rim, and everywhere they touched, the wet stuff left a warm, tingling feeling. Alfred panted in fear and anticipation. His eyes flicked up to Ranka’s. The man smiled down at him, tugging on his bottom lip gently as his fingers eased inside Alfred.

He made a most unmanly whimper, but under the circumstances, he felt it excusable.

“I won’t hurt you,” Ranka whispered. “Beloved, beautiful mortal man, I won’t let you feel anything but pleasure.”

His fingers, certainly, were spreading pleasure everywhere they touched. The tingling spread, the warmth spread, and Ranka slipped his fingers in and out, in and out, still kissing Alfred—sometimes deeply, sometimes scattering the kisses over his face and throat and chest.

“S-Surely it must be a little painful,” he dared. He had always heard a great deal about the pain of being buggered. “I—I don’t mind, you know. I’m man enough to handle it; you needn’t treat me like glass.”

But Ranka only smiled broadly. His fingers stroked inside Alfred, somehow only growing wetter and wetter. He pressed his lips to Alfred’s ear and murmured, “It won’t hurt. Not with me.” And he sucked a spot on Alfred’s throat.

Unable to resist—or, perhaps, unable to let shyness have the upper hand on desire any longer—Alfred let his hand, on Ranka’s hip, fall to his groin. He only brushed over his erection at first, but at the hungry groan Ranka made, he returned with a more purposeful touch and wrapped his hand around the shaft. It was, by now, really shockingly large. “I…I thought you’d e-enter me, b-but this…this will never fit…!”

Smoothly, Ranka’s fingers withdrew from Alfred’s body. He leaned back, kneeling in Alfred’s view. Smiling, he touched Alfred’s hand, still on his cock, and then trailed one finger from the tip of his own length to the base. When he stopped, his cock was…nowhere near its former size. Still fully hard, still beautifully shaped, yet nothing intimidating, as before. “I can change things about myself, Alfred,” he murmured. “The servants are only a small sampling of how little Nature’s realities trouble me.” He wrapped his hand around Alfred’s and moved it over his smaller erection a few times. “I can get bigger again later, when you’re ready for it. To begin, however, I think this size will suit you.”

The implications were…staggering. Alfred looked up at Ranka with awe. “Show me,” he whispered, and Ranka, as ever, grinned.

Strong hands gently parted his legs, raising them. Ranka slipped a pillow under his hips, his hands returning to part Alfred’s buttocks and expose him. Ranka’s erection glistened wetly—though how or with what, Alfred couldn’t say—and he pressed the tip to Alfred’s entrance and met his eyes and smiled. It seemed like a question, so Alfred nodded eagerly. He was right. At his permission, Ranka pushed forward, smoothly entering him.

There was no pain at all. Just a mild, unusual stretching feeling, but nothing to strain or challenge his body. Rather underwhelming, perhaps, if Alfred were quite honest…but then Ranka leaned down over him, touching his face, and his dark eyes were tender with feeling. “Oh Alfred,” he murmured, his voice trembling a little with emotion, “…thank you.”

Too breathless to answer, Alfred only nodded.

Ranka began to move—slowly, gently, rocking in and out with rolling hips as unhurried as the swells of the sea. Their mouths sought and caressed each other in endless kisses, only pausing for Ranka to kiss some part of his body instead, or for Alfred to kiss Ranka’s strong neck or broad shoulder. The endless glide of Ranka’s cock inside him made Alfred feel as though he were constantly surrendering. There was no pretense, and no need to worry about how he seemed to another or what he should do. Everything was instinct—pleasure and closeness and touch.

He thought, perhaps, it would feel less…snug, after a while. But not so. Ranka didn’t have to tell him; Alfred realized on his own, eventually, that Ranka was gradually allowing his cock to grow larger. So slowly, matching the degrees to which Alfred adjusted to him, so that he never felt any strain in it. They only continued as they were, the clasp of his body always just tight enough for the perfect pleasure, but never stretched to pain.

“How…” It came out a whisper. Alfred cleared his throat. “How large are you now?” he dared to ask. Ranka smiled at him, as though they shared a secret.

“Would you like to see?”

Alfred nodded.

Gently, Ranka withdrew from his body and knelt in view, laying his cock close to Alfred’s erection. Alfred looked—he was larger. He was a little bigger than Alfred himself, now. Slowly, he rocked his hips, their cocks sliding together. Ranka’s was still wet and glistening, and apparently his slick was copious, because it soon covered Alfred’s cock as well. “I didn’t think I could…” Alfred swallowed, hypnotized.

Ranka petted the inside of his thigh. “You can, very well.”

“How much larger do you…?”

A little chuckle. “With the use of my powers, I can be any size at all. I can take new shapes, too. But without magic, I’ll come to be about twice this big.”

Alfred gaped. He was already on the large end of normal. “Twice that? How can that be, without magic?”

“Well. I am a god,” Ranka grinned. Then, still rolling his hips, he stroked over Alfred’s belly. “Is your back aching at all?”

“A little,” he admitted. He hadn’t thought of it until now.

“Roll over then,” Ranka instructed—yet so gently that it sounded like a request. “Give your back a rest.”

Alfred complied, and braced himself on his hands and knees. The thought of how he was presenting himself for Ranka, and what an improper thing it was…never crossed his mind.

Hands held him open as Ranka eased back inside; then he leaned close and wrapped his arms around Alfred’s body. “Ah,” he sighed. “Can you feel it? It’s deeper, like this.”

With a broken moan, Alfred nodded. Ranka was reaching places inside him now that he hadn’t known were there. He recalled the size of Ranka’s member now and tried to imagine being filled twice this much…or more. He couldn’t, he couldn’t…but he more than half wanted to try.

“Oh Alfred,” Ranka whispered, pressing feverish kisses to the backs of his shoulders. He began to thrust inside him again. “You’re so warm. Oh, I love being inside you. I never knew it would be like this with a mortal…”

Shuddering with each long, deep thrust, Alfred moaned. I never knew it would be like this…yes. Silken strands of black hair fell across his back, along the side of his arm. When Ranka kissed his back, his hair pooled on the bed, and Alfred shifted his hand to catch the soft strands. Ranka straightened up, and he accidentally pulled a little, and Ranka gasped. Alfred felt his cock throb inside him, swelling a bit more. He trembled; Ranka slid deep into him again, and Alfred moaned aloud.

Hands caressed his chest, rubbing his peaked nipples, then down his stomach. Ranka cupped his erection, and thrust again. He took hold of Alfred and thrust again. His fist tightened and twisted on a stroke; he thrust again. Alfred’s arms gave out, he crumpled to his chest, but he kept pressing his hips back to meet every thrust. “Oh, harder,” he pleaded. “More, more…b-bigger…!”

Ranka gave a shaky exhale and complied. Alfred wailed as his body was stretched even wider. Still, he couldn’t call it pain. He was too consumed with pleasure to feel it as anything else.

His body had grown tight; Ranka’s thrusts, of necessity, slowed a little. But the way he filled Alfred felt better than ever. His cock was pressing inside in a way that sent shocks of pleasure through Alfred’s body. He trembled with every deep, insistent stroke.

“Alfred,” Ranka gasped. His pleasure-soaked voice was right in Alfred’s ear. “Oh Alfred, Alfred, I need to…!” He swallowed. “Is…is your back feeling better? I long to see your face again…”

“Yes, yes I…I’m all right, I can…ahhhhh!” Ranka withdrawing his cock made him shiver and moan as it dragged over the most sensitive spot inside him. Alfred nearly collapsed; Ranka caught him and turned him onto his side, then rolled him onto his back again. Alfred looked up in a daze at the gorgeous man between his legs. Ranka’s long hair clung to his sweat-soaked skin; his whole beautiful body glistened. Would it taste salty, like human sweat? “I want to lick you,” Alfred murmured. “Every inch of you.”

“Even these inches?” Ranka teased, stroking his cock for Alfred to see.

He was larger now—significantly larger than Alfred. And he wasn’t waiting. He pushed Alfred’s legs up, leaning close. Alfred was nodding; Ranka caught his lips and stopped him. “Yes, even those, especially mmhhh…” he murmured into Ranka’s mouth.

“Later,” Ranka whispered breathlessly upon his lips. Then he began to push in.

“Ahh…ahh…aaaahhhhh!” Alfred writhed, crying out with each thick inch that spread him open again. His shaking hands clutched fistfuls of silken black hair; he bit Ranka’s shoulder—salty after all—and his chest heaved for each breath. And still, he never thought of stopping. He only wanted more.

“Alfred, Alfred, oh, ohh!” Whispered against his temple. Touching him everywhere. Holding his shaft, stroking him…

“Rankaaaahhh!” His voice had gone strangely high and thin.

A powerful thrust, balls deep inside him. “Alfred!” Gasped, raggedly. Hands on his waist lifted him into the next thrust—even faster, though Alfred would swear Ranka had grown again. But there was no slowing him now. He thrust again, and grew again, and again and again, pulsing a little larger with each thrust now. The pressure on the sensitive place inside him was unrelenting; Alfred was close to screaming. He clung to Ranka—thought of touching himself—couldn’t let go. Another hard thrust, and another, and another. Faster and faster now.

With wild abandon, Ranka pounded into him. Alfred’s mind was empty, beyond all thoughts of anything other than this.

Ranka.

Then, though both Ranka’s hands were still on his hips, holding him in place for every powerful thrust, something warm touched his cock. A slow, firm stroke…and Alfred climaxed. His whole body arched, taut, as his cock expelled shot after shot of thick, white spend. He was possibly screaming.

Every inch of his body thrummed with his still-racing heart—and Ranka kissed him again. “Tell me you want me to ejaculate,” he moaned against Alfred’s mouth.

A bleary nod. “Yes”—gasped, breathless.

Eyes opened and met his. “Tell me…you want me to fill you with it?”

Alfred’s eyes fell closed on a heavy, gut-deep moan: “Yeeeeess!

Ranka’s tongue filled his mouth, desperate sounds of need muffled in the kiss as he thrust hard and fast a few more times and then cried out. His cock throbbed hard inside Alfred, shooting floods of warm spend. He could feel it all. It just kept coming and coming, pulse after pulse of Ranka’s orgasm filling him up. There was so much more than any human could have produced. From Alfred’s exhausted point of view, Ranka easily outstripped a dozen men or more in volume. He felt certain his stomach would distend with it, if it went on much longer.

And he didn’t care. He watched the spasms of ecstasy on Ranka’s face and adored every shade and nuance of his pleasure. He’s so beautiful like this, Alfred thought, wearily. I want to see him thus every day.

At length, when the climax faded, they collapsed together, Ranka hunched over him, the air between them close and sticky and heavy with sex. For a long while, they stayed like that, touching their mouths in soft kisses here and there…and Ranka’s huge cock still inside him.

A hand took his; fingers wove together with his. Ranka whispered, “So beautiful, beloved. Such perfection…” Then, slowly, he pulled out.

Alfred moaned, feeling his body ache with the absence, and then immediately feeling Ranka’s spend pouring out of him. He knew he should be embarrassed, or repulsed, perhaps, but he wasn’t. In truth, he felt a little tingle of returning desire heat his body. “Ranka,” he groaned.

For answer, he was lifted, and Ranka carried him back to the bath, which either was still hot or it reheated itself in a moment. They sank into it together, and Alfred clung close and would not be given space of his own. His rim throbbed in the hot water; Ranka touched it, stroked and caressed it. Probably washing him, but to Alfred it felt like beginning again. He pushed closer and closer until he was in Ranka’s lap.

“Ah, my beloved,” Ranka murmured, “have a care. I’ll enter you again at once if you tempt me too much.”

“Pray, take no pains to resist, for my sake,” Alfred murmured, kissing him.

Ranka groaned. “Oh, had I known what mortal men are, I’d have done anything to gain one long ago. You are enslavement itself, my sweet Alfred.”

“But…surely you’ve had mortals before,” he asked, “if you’ve lived for centuries?”

Ranka shook his head. “I was in the realm of the gods. I’ve had other gods, and toys like the servants here, but you are the first mortal to come to my land since I gained it. I had no opportunity to take others.”

“Is it any different?”

Very,” Ranka declared. “The toys are like…toys. They serve to a point, but they cannot satisfy. And the gods are…” He hummed. “I don’t know how to explain it. I think we are at our best with mortals. With each other, it’s always rather…insubstantial.” He touched Alfred’s face. “But with you…I’ve never felt anything like that.”

“I haven’t either,” Alfred admitted. “It was wonderful. It may be shameless of me, but…already I begin to want you again.”

Ranka moaned. He had no qualms about that idea.

They coupled again right there in the tub—Ranka sliding in deep as Alfred knelt over his lap—and they splashed water everywhere and climaxed again in each other’s arms. Then they returned to bed, and Ranka sucked Alfred into his mouth and brought him to his end twice before he’d let Alfred reciprocate.

Neither of them put on clothes all day. Alfred knew, by afternoon, that he’d gone far past what was physically possible for a man, yet he continued to grow hard at Ranka’s touch, and every orgasm was heavy with spend. Ranka was just as insatiable; he was even eager for Alfred to bend him over and mount him in return.

Night fell, and they might have continued to copulate all night, but for the stronger urge of the moment—to sleep together, naked and spent, in each other’s arms. This, they did, as satisfied in their rest as in everything that had gone before it.

~o~

The boat construction was forgotten for a while. Alfred meant to attend to it, but Ranka kept tempting him back to the pavilion—or if not that, into the waves, or right there on the beach, or against a tree in the jungle, or anywhere and everywhere. Thus, it was by no effort of Alfred’s that his rescue came.

A sail appeared on the horizon.

That alone would have probably gotten them easily passed by, for Alfred wasn’t paying attention at the moment, but apparently the ship thought to put ashore for fresh water, if they could find any. They approached the island, and they were nearly offshore by the time Alfred saw them from the fringes of the jungle.

“A ship!” he exclaimed. In shock and amazement, he started forward, pulling his shirt back on over his head. “I cannot believe…and she flies a British flag!”

A hand caught his arm. He looked back at Ranka’s miserable face. “Don’t go.” It was soft. Begging. “Alfred, please.”

Suddenly, it hit him. Rescue. Going home meant leaving. “Come with me.” He spoke rashly. He knew it even in that moment. But he didn’t care! He’d end things with Martha, if they weren’t ended already. He’d find a farm somewhere private and remote, and he and Ranka could…

A slow shake of his head. “This is my place. I am the god of this island. I can only leave it to return to the realm of the gods and surrender it to another ruler.” Pain filled his dark eyes. “Alfred, my beloved, stay with me. Be my consort. I’ll give you everything…forever.”

Alfred hesitated. Began to lean toward Ranka…

“Hallo, there!”

His head whipped around. A landing boat was approaching, and someone had seen him among the trees. They called again, and Alfred raised his hand and waved, returning the call, starting forward on impulse…

He paused. Glanced back. But Ranka was gone.

It went predictably from there. Alfred was rescued. The sailors were astounded by his health and good condition, and much saddened to hear of the loss of his ship, which many knew by name. Ranka did not reappear, and Alfred, under the control of his rational English mind, now, went with them. He boarded the boat. He boarded the ship. He was introduced to the captain. He was told of their location, course, and destination. Three weeks would see him safely to a colony, and a ship bound for home could take him on from there.

Alfred stood at the taffrail and gazed at the island. He wondered, for a moment, why Ranka didn’t appear. Why had he vanished so readily? Did he not care so much after all?

Or had it all, perhaps, been a fever dream? A castaway’s half-mad fantasy. That certainly seemed to fit. Here on this proper English vessel, he could hardly conceive of the things his hazy memory showed him from the last few weeks.

The ship set sail and began to pull away from the island. Alfred swallowed an unaccountable feeling of pain as he watched. He tried to shut the feeling away—turned toward the ship instead. Everything proceeding in proper, shipshape fashion…and…

Oh.

A sailor was looking at him. Staring, in fact. Alfred glanced around. A few others were casting little glances his way. The captain had mentioned…what was it? Six weeks since their last port of call? The hungry looks suddenly made perfect sense to him.

He didn’t feel fear, nor any worry. He didn’t know this captain, but it was easy to tell at a glance that he was an upstanding sort, and Alfred would be safe on his ship—to the degree that he wished to be. And Alfred would not capitulate. No, it wasn’t fear, but disgust. And anger. He was angry with these men, with their selfish lusts. He was angry with himself in that moment, too, because though he would never look lustfully at Martha, he had his own little selfish reasons to pursue her so ardently. He didn’t really want to share his life with her. He wanted to…to justify himself with her. She’d be happier with George Dunn, the prat, and he knew it.

Well. Let her have him, and God bless them.

So he determined, and then he turned, sprinted to the taffrail, and dove overboard.

The cry went up aboard ship, but Alfred was already swimming toward land.

The captain was exceedingly angry, because although the stranger was clearly mad, still he was an Englishman, and their duty was to save him, which meant turning the ship back to the island and launching boats again to mount a search for the poor loon. But they didn’t find him, despite the island’s tiny size, and after all, it was a jungle. If the madman had taken it into his mad head to hide, they could not hope to find him.

They gave up at last, and sailed away. They never found the pavilion, because it could not be found by anyone Ranka wished to hide it from. Thus, Alfred and his divine lover remained hidden from the searchers, wrapped in each other’s arms, in ecstasy together, laughing and lost in a passionate embrace.

And ever after, there have been two stars visible above the South Sea that never grow distant or part.

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One thought on “A Star to Sail By

  1. Oh wow this was hot as HECK. I loved the writing and Alfred’s point of view as he surrenders to Ranka and lets go of his internalized homophobia, what a delightful journey.

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