by Hiwaru Kibi (火悪 木美)
Silviestro was going to die. He had known this for nearly a year now, ever since the astrologers had checked their charts and calculated the dates, then pointed to the calendar at what would be his twenty-second birthday. He’d been reminded of it in every plate of food brought to him by grateful villagers, in every lustful gaze sent his way by shapely maidens. Not for a moment had the knowledge left his mind that he would meet his end here, on top of the highest hill, anointed with sacred oils and wrapped in sacrificial robes.
But it was still another thing entirely to be left to watch the Sun go black.
It had now been more than two centuries since the last eclipse, back long beyond living memory, but the astrologers were sure it would be calamitous if the proper precautions were not taken. The precise nature of the precautions, of course, were left to some discussion, as the Great Fire and three Great Floods over the preceding two centuries had done a fairly excellent job of wiping out the kingdom’s historical archives. Nonetheless, all the scholars were in agreement over a few key elements, the first being the location. It seemed that if one of a place’s local landmarks was literally named Sacrifice Hill, it put to rest a great deal of debate on the matter.
The second point of agreement was Silviestro’s attire. He was clad only in a light linen robe, with nothing on beneath. After tying him up, the sages had muttered amongst themselves for a moment, then yanked the lapels wide, revealing his broad, tanned chest. Then they went away muttering, leaving him exposed from neck to navel, with his arms bound behind him. When the wind blew, it ruffled his dark, curly chest hair.
And the third and final consensus was that this was necessary. It was a season to atone, maybe, or a moment to shore up favor against cosmic forces, or a time for appeasing the evil gods that ate all the stars in their due course — that theory came from a fringe yet persuasive sect — but the why of it was less important than the fact of it. The beautiful young Silviestro, in the prime of his life, was to give his life so the rest of the village, or kingdom, or entire world (it was unclear which) could live.
Silviestro tried to meet his end bravely. He stood tall, helped somewhat by the fact that he was lashed to a heavy post with his arms behind his back and his feet anchored in place. He took deep breaths and hoped it wouldn’t hurt. He was too pretty for pain.
When the first edge of the Sun’s disc began to go dark, Silviestro trembled. As the blackness crept its way across, blotting out the daylight, he shook even more. His mind raced with horrible possibilities for his doom. Perhaps they would kill him by locking him in a box and making him fight a duck, and then replacing the duck with a series of successively larger ducks, until he finally succumbed. He didn’t know why they would do that, but he also didn’t know why the Sun went black. Sometimes the universe was full of mystery.
At last, after what felt like hours, the gears of the world seemed to grind to a halt as the sky fell nighttime-dark, with the Sun left only a halo of its former self. Silviestro looked up, daring to face his fate, as he saw five bolts of golden light break off from that halo and plummet down to earth, right to where he stood. They landed with a crash so spectacular, Silviestro felt all of Sacrifice Hill shake, and he closed his eyes in fear, waiting for what would come.
When nothing came, he cautiously cracked open one eye, daring to peek at the horror that had come for him.
The horror was … well, it wasn’t a single horror. There were five figures standing there in front of him, lean and leonine. They looked almost entirely human, except that their faces were somewhat pointed, like the muzzles of great cats, and they were all at least seven feet tall. They were wearing robes much like Silviestro’s, only no one had torn their garments open to expose their chest hair. Their faces were all framed by great manes of golden hair almost the same color as their skin, out of which emerged long, pointed ears decorated with several jeweled rings and studs.
“Hello,” said one of them, in strangely accented speech. When it smiled, Silviestro could see rows and rows of sharp teeth.
Oh, why had they given him nothing to say? Silviestro swallowed hard. “Oh, Great Lords of–” What were they lords of? The sages hadn’t been clear. “Of … the Sun,” Silviestro finished, grasping at proverbial straws.
That made the tall lion-people laugh gently. “Oh, darling,” said one, with a voice as low as a hammer against a stone door, “that’s not us. I can see how you might be confused, but fear not. As our coming has been foretold, we are the Lords of the Moon.”
Silviestro looked up. It was dark in the sky, certainly, but there wasn’t a hint of Moon to be seen. “What Moon?” he asked, worrying that there had somehow been more than one Moon in the heavens his entire life and he’d missed it.
That made them all laugh again, which was worrying Silviestro somewhat. “The regular one,” another said. “And are you our Prophet?”
That was a question Silviestro had honestly never expected to be asked. “Am I your…” He frowned at them. The village elders were very fond of chuckling about how Silviestro’s parents must have gotten such a beautiful son by trading in his brains, but perhaps they were the ones confused here. “I’m your Sacrifice.”
“Our–” One of the Moon Lords cocked its head to one side. “Our what, now?”
“Sacrifice,” Silviestro said again, scanning their faces for signs of recognition. He tried again, slower: “Sa-cri-fice. Sacrifice.”
“Yes, darling, we heard you the first time,” said the one with the stone-door voice.
One of the Lords put its hands on its hips and looked at another. “I thought you left explicit instructions last time.”
“I did!” exclaimed the other. It turned to Silviestro. “Why didn’t your people follow the Codex of Directives?”
A lot of the pre-sacrificial discussion had been hard to follow, but Silviestro was fairly sure he had never heard two of those words before, and very sure he’d never encountered all three in that order. He chewed on his lower lip. “There was a fire,” he said after a moment’s consideration, “and a lot of things were … well, it was a fire.” He hoped they weren’t counting on him to explain what exactly fires did. Did they have fires on the Moon? He didn’t know, and wasn’t sure it was polite to ask. “And floods. More than one.”
The Moon Lord with arms akimbo shook its head. “This is why I said stone. Stone. But no, you were so fond of the printing press nonsense that you–“
“Do they still have printing presses, boy?” asked the one who’d mentioned the Codex. “Tell me they do. I do so love a good moveable type.”
“Ah, well, yes,” said Silviestro, eyes darting from face to face. “There’s one a few towns over. I think.”
“This is entirely beside the point,” spoke up one of the Lords, who hadn’t yet said anything, or at least Silviestro thought so. He was having a hard time telling them apart, and not only because of celestial phenomenon that had left midday dark as midnight. “What on earth are we going to do with another sacrifice? I say we untie him and make him our Prophet instead.”
Silviestro frowned. “Prophet?”
“To spread our glorious message, of course,” answered one of the Lords. “The time of our worship and devotion is at hand, and we were hoping” –that Lord shot a harsh glare at another– “that when we arrived again, everything would be in order, needing only our arrival to complete the Revelation. But since you are here, you may be the first among your peers to embrace the Light of Truth that we bring to all of personkind! You will go forth to your lands, testifying of what you have seen and preparing the way for the Harmonic Age that is to come! Peace and harmony will spread throughout all sentient life!”
“…Can’t I just be your Sacrifice?” Silviestro asked. “No offense, but I think I’d be better at it.”
The Lords looked at one another for a long moment.
At last, one threw its clawed hands into the air. “I can’t believe I altered orbital patterns for this.”
“Zlitith, it’s not that bad,” began another.
“No,” snapped the first. “I don’t even like this moon. This is a pathetic moon. It lacks methane. Do you know how rudimentary a place has to be to lack methane?”
Silviestro certainly did not, but from their expressions, he gathered the others did. “You’ve got to stop taking these setbacks so personally,” said the Lord who’d spoken first. “Not every Assignment from the Star Council is a simple matter. If we establish the groundwork now, by the next Convergence, we should–“
Zlitith bared a row of pearly teeth. “I cannot entertain this right now. Heshet, if it wants to be a Sacrifice so much, sacrifice it. The rest of you, come with me. I need to sit in a vacuum for at least ten cycles to calm my nerves.”
Four creatures turned into four beams of light that zipped back up into the sky — which was already beginning to brighten again, Silviestro saw to some abstract relief. Perhaps he had just averted the calamity? Or made it worse? How could he tell the difference?
When the others had departed, Heshet turned to him and smiled. “Hello, Sacrifice,” it said, opening its toothy mouth. “I am Heshet, tenth son of Takluli, disciple of the Ninth Way and advocate of universal peace and harmony, come to you from beyond the stars.”
Now that the light was returning, Silviestro could see a little better the shape and dimensions of the Moon Lord standing before him. It was hard to tell anything about Heshet, because nothing about him fit in categories Silviestro understood. Heshet seemed to be mostly human but a little lion, mostly male but a little female, and entirely too capable of ripping open flesh with those fangs. The box of progressive ducks had begun to seem a more humane option.
“Silviestro,” said Silviestro. “I’m from–” He tried first to point, but his arms were still bound fast, so he nodded in the general direction of behind him. “From right over there.”
“Silviestro,” echoed Heshet, letting every sound roll around his mouth before it spilled out his lips. His voice was so low and heavy that Silviestro almost felt it more than he heard it. The sounds came to him like a rumble that began in the ground, then traveled up his whole body before reaching his ears. “So if the Codex of Directives did not survive your various natural disasters, darling, why are you here?”
That was a question Silviestro was not wholly sure he was qualified to answer. “Because of the–” He nodded toward the sky. “That thing.”
“Well, yes, of course,” Heshet said. “We’re all here because of the eclipse, naturally. But you’re tied to a pole.”
“Because I’m–” He found himself afraid to repeat the word, considering the earlier response, but he didn’t see any way around it. “I’m your Sacrifice.”
“Of course you are, darling.” Heshet stepped forward as he talked, regarding Silviestro with curious eyes. They were almost wholly human, yet as the light returned, he could see that they were an amber color he’d never seen a normal person have. “And a fine job you’re doing of it too. Well done. What I want to know is, why you? Specifically, that is.”
Finally, a question he could answer. “I was chosen because today is my birthday.”
Heshet’s ears twitched, making the rings in them chime against one another musically. “You were born only today?”
“No, I–” This was requiring more explanation than Silviestro was strictly prepared to give. “Today is the anniversary of my birth. There’s usually a party.” Back in the villages, celebrations likely were happening already, festivities of gratitude for having survived the sun’s departure. “People bring gifts.”
“A gift,” said Heshet thoughtfully. He looked Silviestro up and down, then licked his chops in a predatory way that made Silviestro’s stomach tremble. “Would you like a gift, little Sacrifice?”
There seemed to Silviestro no right way to answer that question. “What kind of gift?”
Heshet smiled and pulled back his robes, letting them fall to the ground. Silviestro was intensely grateful for being tied to the pole at that moment, because he feared he might have fallen over. Heshet’s body was muscular and downed with light golden hair, same as the hair on his head. His arms and legs were both just a little too long for human proportions, and his feet bent back in a way Silviestro wasn’t quite sure he understood.
The anatomy of this amazing creature, however, was even less eye-catching to Silviestro than what Heshet had done with it. He was covered in dark designs, patterns etched into his skin. In his youth, Silviestro had seen some criminals brought through town in chains, pirates transported for trial, and many of them had sported similar markings emerging from beneath clothes. Those, however, had been crude and, in many cases, clearly faded. Heshet’s markings were stark and bold, designs of great complexity that stretched over every inch of his furred skin.
Notable too were the bits of jewelry. The earrings had been plainly visible before, of course, but now Silviestro saw that there were heavy gold rings in each of Heshet’s nipples, a sparkling bit of black stone decorating his navel, and just below–
Heshet’s cock would have been impressive on its own, a size that would have made him the envy of the kingdom. But apparently not content to leave what nature had given him, Heshet had studded and pierced it all the way from the tip to the shaft. He seemed to be fully erect, giving Silviestro a good look at the ladder-like constellation of metals and gems that ran the full underside down to his heavy balls, which were equally adorned.
As Silviestro stared, Heshet moved forward, shifting his weight on his unnaturally small feet — or maybe it was that his feet were long and he was only balancing on his toes? The combination of factors was too much for Silviestro to take in all at once, and so he was still staring as Heshet moved closer to him and dragged the back of a single claw down Silviestro’s chest, starting at the base of his throat and working downward. Silviestro gasped and jerked without meaning to, but his bonds held him fast.
Heshet’s mouth curled into a toothy smile. “Are you attached to these robes?” asked Heshet.
“They’re awful,” Silviestro admitted. “They itch.”
Heshet laughed and leaned in to drag his tongue along Silviestro’s neck, making Silviestro gasp again. It wasn’t quite like being licked by a cat, but there was certainly friction to Heshet’s tongue Silviestro had never felt before. Heshet dragged his tongue down to Silviestro’s nipple, circling and sucking in rhythm. Silviestro outright moaned at that, closing his eyes as Heshet manipulated the sensitive skin there.
Moments later, he heard a tearing sound, and he opened his eyes to see that Heshet had hooked one of those claws into the neck of the robe and torn it from his shoulder down to where his hands were tied. The loose fabric fell open entirely, revealing his whole upper body. Heshet grabbed the fabric beneath the ropes around his waist and tugged it away, leaving Silviestro all but bare.
Heshet lowered himself to the ground then, and it was hard to tell from Silviestro’s angle if he was more kneeling or crouching. Either way, he supposed it didn’t matter, not with the way Heshet was licking his lips with Silviestro’s cock only inches from his mouth. He opened his maw, and before Silviestro could gather the presence of mind to beg him to be wary of his teeth, he had Silviestro’s entire shaft behind his lips.
“By the gods!” Silviestro exclaimed, which he hoped wasn’t blasphemous, seeing as he was in the presence of an obviously powerful being not specified in that oath. Heshet, however, did not even pause. He closed his lips around Silviestro’s shaft, licking with that same sweet friction as he moved his head back and forth slowly. Not a hint of teeth was to be found anywhere.
Silviestro thrashed against his bonds, not trying to get free, but because the sensation was so good that he couldn’t stay still. He’d had mouths on him before, of course — quite a number, in fact, in the month leading up to his sacrificial ascent — but this was transcendent. Instinct begged him to grab Heshet’s hair, to make certain he went nowhere until the job was completed. But of course, he was the one who was going nowhere, who had trussed up specifically to be left at the mercy of whatever cosmic forces came looking for him. As it turned out, those cosmic forces had found him.
Heshet pulled his lips away for a moment, letting his tongue rake up and down the length of Silviestro’s shaft in a way that made Silviestro see stars. “Oh, fuck, please,” Silviestro muttered, not even sure what he was begging for. For more, perhaps, more of anything, so long as it came at the hands — and mouth — of the handsome Moon Lord before him.
Looking up at him, Heshet grinned and stroked Silviestro’s thigh. His claws were terrifying and sharp, yet he knew just how to move so they not only didn’t break the skin, they didn’t even mark it. “Are you ready for your gift, darling?” he asked.
There was nowhere to go from here but forward. As much as he could, Silviestro nodded. Whatever his gift was, he couldn’t turn from it now.
Heshet lowered his head back to Silviestro’s cock and licked it several more times, igniting the skin and lapping up the precome that dribbled from its tip. He sucked at Silviestro’s shaft until Silviestro began to moan with the feeling of an impending orgasm. Yet as he felt his climax build, Silviestro felt Heshet relent, until his touch was only teasing, not purposeful. At first, Silviestro though this might have been an accident, but Heshet did it again, and again, until Silviestro had been brought to the brink of orgasm fully five times without being allowed to cross over. He was moaning incoherently now, possibly even pleading. Maybe this would be how he would die. At the moment, it seemed an entirely plausible way to go.
All of a sudden, there was a sharp sensation — one that rocked so hard through Silviestro’s entire body, he was certain that it would be followed by pain. He could feel it straight to his fingertips and toes, a jolt that made him think of how lightning traveled from clouds to the ground. He cried out in a voice so loud that it bounced off the nearby hills and came back to him. He was nearly certain they could have heard him on the Moon.
But there was no pain. What came instead was a feeling of tremendous release as his balls tightened and he came hard, straight into Heshet’s waiting mouth. His cock shot pump after pump of hot, wet seed, past the point of sense. Silviestro shouted again as Heshet worked the sensitive skin there, coaxing from him an orgasm that seemed to go on for entire minutes, if not entire lifetimes.
At last, Heshet drew back, and Silviestro collapsed against his sacrificial pole. Looking down, he could see his spent cock jutting out from the torn fabric. Something gleamed at its tip, and at first he thought it might be slickness from Heshet’s mouth.
As his eyes focused, though, he realized that what had caused the sharp shock — and the resulting orgasm — was an enormous silver ring that now dangled right from the head of Silviestro’s penis. It was so heavy that he could feel its weight tugging against his softening shaft. “Oh,” Silviestro gasped, staring at it. It was quite a piece of work, and it matched Heshet’s perfectly, down to the opalescent jewel affixed at the lowest point. A moonstone, he thought. How appropriate.
Standing, Heshet smiled, then looked off into the distance. “I see they’re coming for you,” he said, and this time when he spoke, Silviestro could feel the rumble of the words right through his new piercing. “Probably to collect your remains. Won’t they be surprised when they see what remains indeed?”
“I–” Silviestro cleared his throat. “What should I … say?”
“Oh, tell them anything, darling,” Heshet said, brushing the backs of his claws against Silviestro’s cheek. “They’ll believe you or they won’t. And eventually your planet will have peace and harmony. It simply may take a few more of your millennia than originally planned. You must believe, we’ve done this successfully many times before. It’s all rather scientific, in fact. Unless…”
A long moment passed before Silviestro echoed, “Unless?”
“Unless, of course, you are feeling in the mood to be our Prophet,” Heshet continued, smiling. “Don’t say anything now. Of course you need some time to consider the offer. But if you do accept our offer, you’ll know how to find us.” With a wink, he evaporated into a ball of light and rose into the ever-emerging sun.
From the path back to the village came the distant sound of horses, and Silviestro knew they’d be here soon — as Heshet said, likely expecting to find his corpse, or at least some part of it. Being found in his current state would warrant some explanation, of course, and he wasn’t sure how much of it he was ready to give, especially when the only proof was in a piece of jewelry whose very presence aroused him. Despite the spectacular orgasm he’d had only minutes before, he was starting to feel stirrings in his loins again.
Maybe this was the way to the Harmonic Age the Moon Lords had mentioned. Maybe it wasn’t. Either way, Silviestro felt as though he himself had just been saved from calamity, and that felt like enough for one day. As the other villagers approached, he closed his eyes and let the returning light of the sun warm his face.