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  • Peripheral Vignette 2: Domestication

    2014 - 03.23

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    The groves were God’s first temples. – William Cullen Bryant

    Every day, they encroached farther. Every day, more of her friends and children fell. And every day it hurt more, as there were fewer left.

    She crept to where she could see them. These humans were so destructive. For two cycles of the smaller moon, they had been coming out here nearly every day and cutting down her trees.

    Her function was to disperse the collection of charm that had bubbled up in this region, but they were just outright destroying the charm. Animals that ate leaves or bark extracted the charm from the tissues immediately, as the plant parts were still alive and metabolizing. They then carried it away with them, removing it from the area and depositing the remains elsewhere. The charm that was concentrated here was spread out over a much larger area with a little help from natural processes, which she encouraged.

    But these humans were not eating the leaves, or the bark, or anything else. They were just putting the trees on great carts and hauling them away. They were removing the charm from her area, and in a way they were serving the same purpose, but they were doing it destructively. They weren’t relocating it elsewhere so that it could continue to do some good and inspire more life, they were simply destroying it.

    She had felt her power fading as she distributed the charm, as the concentration was reduced. Most living things age and die, with a period of senescence as they decline. That was to be expected. This was different. This was a violent wound that was hemorrhaging life from a system that had many good years remaining. She felt her strength ebb by the day as more trees were slaughtered and removed. Her hair, once the vibrant green of healthy early-season leaves, had faded to a sickly late-season chartreuse

    With her senses dulled by the pain and her head lost in thought, she hadn’t noticed one of the murderers approaching until he saw her and called out. She sprung lightly to her feet and ran, but weakened as she was, he caught up to her easily.

    She flailed and thrashed, but he was much larger than she, and she no longer had the charm to slip away or disperse her corporeal body. He carried her back toward the treeline as if she were nothing more than a squalling child. “Hey, boys, we’ve got a nymph!”

    A volley of shouts answered him. “Really? Wow!”

    “Bring her out here!”

    “I never thought I’d see one in real life!”

    Back out in the full sunlight, he hopped up on the knee-high carcass of a tree and displayed his prize proudly. She squinted and raised a hand to block the glaring brightness. The shouts continued.

    “That’s not a nymph!”

    “Sure it is! Look at the hair!”

    “Who else would be out here?”

    Her captor jumped back down and hands gripped her arms and legs. They spread her out across the fallen tree, the rough bark rubbing against her back. They held her down, one on each arm and leg, while the one who’d caught her knelt and opened his trousers, and others stood behind him and looked on eagerly.

    When she saw it, she knew what it was that he was pointing at her, but she had never thought about it before in connection with herself. Of course, animals mate. Even plants do, though in a different way. But what did that have to do with her?

    In her confusion, she had stopped fighting to get away, and simply stared. It was only then that she realized that she had the corresponding female anatomy. It was such a shattering awakening that everything seemed to freeze in place, while her mind churned madly.

    He intended to mate with her. Why? What would that accomplish? She could never bear him children. Or could she? She had no concept anymore of what was or wasn’t possible.

    The human nestled his penis between her folds, finding the opening, and thrust unceremoniously. She winced. It wasn’t painful, but it was definitely uncomfortable. She could feel her vagina stretching to accommodate him, and lubricating to allow him to slide more easily.

    Before she could truly come to terms with her predicament, it was over. He ejaculated deep within her, withdrew, and was gone. She blinked and looked around. One of the men holding a leg had shifted around between them, and was undoing the waistband of his trousers as well. The leg he had abandoned was taken over by another man stepping forward. With no more preparation than the first, the second man inserted, thrust, spurted, and left, only to be replaced by a third. She resumed struggling, but to no avail.

    When the fourth or fifth had finished and moved away, she felt a tingling within her abdomen. She focused on it as the next man positioned himself. A warm glow that had nothing to do with temperature. It began spreading, slowly at first, then in pulsating waves. She could feel her strength returning as the charm suffused her body.

    She soon lost count of the men who paraded themselves between her legs. Some were rougher than others, and some took longer, but fundamentally they were all the same. Their semen spilled out of her opening and onto the ground. But more of it stayed within her, the fluid and its energy being absorbed by her tissues. This was very much not what she had expected, but maybe she could still turn it to her advantage.

    She could tell that even though her muscles were contracting with more force, there were enough men holding her, and they were strong enough, that she would not be able to break away from them. So she waited, and collected their charm, spurt after spurt, biding her time.

    Slowly her power accumulated, until suddenly she disappeared. In the abrupt absence of resistance, the men who had been holding her limbs stumbled against the tree. The unfortunate who was pounding into her at the time was left standing there, his hands grasping at air, his erection dripping with ooze and pointing at a tree that had no way of returning his attention. As the initial shock faded, ripples of laughter spread through the rest of the crowd. A foreman’s voice rang out, “All right, break’s over, back to work!”

    The nymph’s essence floated upward and caught a breeze back toward the forest. She settled among the branches, resting and thinking for a long time. The humans were weakening her, because they were killing the forest. But she could get more strength from them. That she could use to protect her forest.

    And while they had her out there, they had all stopped, and didn’t go back to chopping the trees down until after she’d left, and wasn’t distracting them anymore. A plan began to form in her mind.

    “She’s bad luck. Ever since we found her, we’ve been going slower, and having more axes and saws break.”

    “Maybe, but you can’t tell the boys not to touch her when she struts out of the forest and starts groping on ’em. And I’ve seen you with her.”

    “Yeah, I know. I can’t help it. She’s so luscious and willing, and I can’t help thinking she’s the problem.”

    “We’re still making progress. So what do you want?”

    “I don’t know. I’m under pressure to get these trees cleared by fall, so the farmers can come out and build houses before it gets too cold, and then prep the soil over the winter so they can start planting as soon as it warms up. They want to make sure we don’t have the same kind of food shortage problems again that we’re having this year.”

    The nymph had overheard other similar conversations. No matter how much charm she collected from the humans, she couldn’t make her trees grow strong enough to resist their tools. Neither more trees, nor more thorny underbrush, nor trees with stronger bark and denser wood managed to halt their advances. They slowed, true, but the onslaught continued, and her essence faded with each tree that was lost.

    These thoughts floated through her head while another man pounded at her vagina. She had discovered so much about them over the course of defending against them. They preferred it if she responded in a certain way. A few of them liked her to struggle like she had that first day, but most of them wanted her to act like she enjoyed it, smiling and laughing and thrusting back at them.

    They also liked to turn her around and come at her from different angles, and even for her to get on top of them. Many of them also wanted her to use her mouth on them, and some wanted to put their penis in her anus as well. She was surprised again to find that she even had an anus, but she was beginning to realize that in all external respects, she was a fully functional female human.

    It mattered little to her which opening they deposited their charm into, she collected all of it. In fact, being able to take two or three men at once meant that she could gather even more charm in a shorter amount of time.

    It didn’t seem to make a difference, though. Once they became accustomed to her presence, the group no longer stopped their activities to watch her. They simply took their turns with her, then returned to work.

    She learned more tricks to elicit more charm from each human, and to speed the release of each, so she could get on to the next, and collect his charm as well, but it still wasn’t enough. Word of her spread, and more humans arrived, eager for the chance to take their turn with her, but she could only increase her turnover rate so much, which led to more of them waiting.

    The foreman and his assistants made sure that the newcomers were not standing around idle, but were actually working and earning their wages. In the end, one sharp-eyed supervisor had to be delegated specifically to keep a watch on her and the men attending to her.

    The humans advanced, she retreated. No matter what barriers or stumbling blocks she put in their way, more forest became bare dirt and stumps, and she weakened. Her last stand was a small clump of trees, now cut off from the main body of the forest. It took her so short a time to walk across it that the sun hardly seem to have moved.

    Something had to change. When you only meet failure, you must try a different approach.

    Mert sat at his desk, shuffling papers. His tent was large, functioning both as office and sleeping quarters. The flap rustled, and he looked up, annoyed at the intrusion. A glance toward the entrance explained it, however. The nymph wouldn’t know to clap or speak from outside to get his attention first.

    His expression softened, then turned to confusion. What was she doing here? As far as he knew, she had never entered anyone’s tent, insisting that she service the men under the open sky, or beneath the branches of her own trees.

    She slowly sashayed toward him, her hips swinging. Mert drew a breath, feeling his loins responding. Considering how awkward she had been at the beginning, she had learned to use her body well over the past few meera. She dropped her arms around his neck and pressed herself up against him. Her abdomen shifted slightly against his growing bulge as she laid her head against his chest. “Hello Mert.”

    Despite his raw physical reaction, the foreman could tell there was something wrong. The nymph had become very friendly since they’d found her, emerging from the forest every day and helping the men relax. He appreciated that, it made it easier to keep them out of trouble. Prior to that, most of the men had serviced each other, which was good enough for most, but many of them preferred females. Or even just the semblance of femininity, in this case.

    Mert also appreciated what the nymph did for him personally. Her skill as a lover had drastically improved, and he thoroughly enjoyed when her attentions were turned to him. She didn’t seem to mind how rough he liked to get. He’d had to hold back for other partners, both male and female, but the nymph just took it and moaned harder.

    He stood there for a moment, wondering. His arms encircled her for lack of anything better to do, his hands resting on the rounded mounds of her buttocks. The smell of warm dirt wafted off of her, distinctive but not bad. She tilted her head and looked him in the eye. Her pupils were dilated in the dim light, but a verdant storm still churned around their periphery.

    She lifted herself on the balls of her bare feet and kissed him. Her lips were soft and pliable on his, but firm. A strange gesture, and he wondered who had taught her that. A kiss was so intimate, it was usually reserved for serious relationships, rather than the more widespread sexual interaction. You can share your body with anyone, but the lips, the mouth, the mind, that leaves you vulnerable, and you have to trust someone before you expose yourself like that. Mert had only ever kissed one person other than his wife. He’d known his men were getting attached to her, but he didn’t realize they were that attached.

    From the skill she demonstrated, she must have been kissing a lot of them, and for a long time. Mert was taken aback, and felt himself getting washed away in the sensation before he caught himself and pulled up short. She smiled and dropped her hands to his rump, pulling him tightly against her. She ground herself against his rod, and it throbbed back at her.

    Mert scooped her up and dropped her on her back on the straw billet that served as his bed. She bounced and giggled, her breasts quaking attractively. He untied his waistband and she sat up eagerly on her knees in front of him. As soon as the flap covering his crotch was open, his flesh sprang out, straight and stiff. She grasped it with one hand and drew the collar back, licking around the tip.

    His head lolled back and he moaned. She stroked his pole and moved her lips back and forth in tandem with her fist. He shoved her hand away and grabbed the sides of her head, thrusting forcefully into her mouth. She made no move to resist, merely puckering her lips and putting her hands on his hips. Mert lost himself in the sensation.

    She had come to appreciate the difference in penis sizes among humans, and how sensitive many of them were about it. Mert was definitely possessed of one of the smaller penises among them, but it was still respectable, and he understood how to use it. It tickled the back of her throat as he shoved it into her, and she undulated her tongue against the underside.

    He pulled back away from her, planted a foot on her chest, and pitched her backward onto the pallet. Her green hair, lush and lustrous from all the charm she had accumulated throughout the day, fanned out behind her, and she threw her arms to either side. She smiled and rolled over, getting up onto her knees and wiggling her hips at him. She looked back over her shoulder as he knelt behind her, straddling her legs, lining himself up with her cleft and gripping her hips. In one stroke, he bottomed out, jamming her face forward into the sheet.

    She clenched her internal muscles, squeezing him tightly. There was nothing wrong with small penises, she could accommodate anything. She appreciated the technique, the art that he brought to the encounter, changing his rhythm and angle. There were plenty of other men, of whatever size, who would simply get on top of her and pound her, thinking that enthusiasm could make up for a lack of skill. That was much of what she had seen among other animals as well. But Mert was different.

    As she had learned what sex was to humans, and that they did it more for the sheer pleasure of it than they did for the sake of reproduction, she had learned to enjoy it herself as well. She was able to draw satisfaction from even the most brutish among them, but she preferred those who took some care and actively encouraged and cultivated her pleasure.

    Mert was putting a lot of force behind his thrusts, and she rocked herself back and forth in counterpoint. His pouch swung forward and bounced off of her thighs with each stroke. She snaked a hand back and cupped it, gently massaging the eggs within it. She could feel the charm bubbling up within them as they tightened up against his body.

    Without warning, he pulled out completely, spread the paired mounds of her posterior, and plunged between them. She gasped in surprise, then giggled again, squeezing and wiggling. With his arms, he swept her legs backward and fell on top of her on the makeshift bed, driving himself deep into her orifice again.

    Pinned beneath his bulk, she raised her hips as much as she could, grinding against him. His hands returned to her hips and he pounded her with abandon now. She pumped her hips up and down, moaning and clutching at the straw beneath the sheet. “Yes, yes, fill me with your seed!” she cried.

    That was all the encouragement he needed. He unloaded spurt after spurt of his charm-laden fluid into her, and she could tell immediately as it suffused her, spreading throughout her body. She continued to wiggle and squeeze him as his orgasm faded, and he collapsed atop her.

    A short time later, he had rolled away and lay next to her, her head resting on one arm. “What do you want?”

    She was startled by the question. Had she been that obvious? Yes, she supposed she had. Coming directly to him, in his tent. There was no precedent for that, and he would have known she had a reason.

    “I am dying. You are destroying my home.” She had learned a fair amount of the language of these men, and could understand it easily. She had the requisite anatomy to make the sounds herself, but it still felt strange and didn’t come naturally.

    “Yeah, so?”

    “Every tree you cut down weakens me. You drain life from the forest and the world. Canera weeps at the wounds you inflict.”

    “We need more cropland. We have to have more farms, more fields to plant. This far north, it’s not really ideal, but the wizards have come up with some new kind of grain that will grow better up here.”

    “My function is to help plants to grow. Leave these trees, leave me a home. Plant your grasses around them.” She grabbed at his flaccid and sticky penis, which pulsed in her hand. “Come back to feed me, and I will help to keep your food alive and healthy too.”

    He looked at her appraisingly. “That’s an interesting proposition. I like it. I can’t make the decision myself, it’ll have to go to the demurgo. And we should probably get the clerion out here too.” The nymph recognized the words, she had heard the men use them, but they meant nothing to her. He looked back at the roof of the tent and sighed. “I’m all in favor of quitting this job. Only seeing my wife and kids one day a meera is rough.”

    She embraced him firmly. “You are a good man. It will make me happy when you return.”

    The next day, Mert called a halt. No work, no pay, but the nymph was back, and eager to please. Mert borrowed a horse and rode into town. The demurgo looked at him incredulously when he said that he wanted to leave the job unfinished, but his expression morphed to one of astonishment as Mert explained the nymph’s offer. “Yes, we’ve heard of the nymph. What reason do you have to believe she will keep her word and help us?”

    “Ever since we found her, we’ve been having more and more trouble cutting down the trees. Underbrush, broken tools, even the trees themselves seem to be getting more solid and tougher to chop. I really think she has something to do with it, that she’s been trying to get us to stop for a long time now.”

    “There you have it then. If you stop, you cave to her demands, and she would say anything to get you to cease. Finish the job.”

    “But sir, think about what she’s been doing. She’s made the thorns and bracken grow a lot denser, trying to keep us out. She’s made the trees more durable, made them wear away at our tools faster, so they break. If she has even a fraction of that kind of effect on our crops, that would be a huge increase in yield. And think about all the extra money that’ll bring into the region.”

    “Yes, but can we expect that kind of effect? What’s to prevent her from lapsing on her end of the bargain?”

    “Honestly, I don’t think she’s sophisticated enough to be putting on an act. I think she’s too simple and straightforward.” The official’s mouth twisted, and he started to respond, but Mert jumped in again. “No, I don’t expect you to go along with my opinion, but will this make you happy? If she doesn’t do it, there’s nothing to stop us from going in later and clearing the rest of the forest. Really, we’ve cleared nearly all of it already, what’s left isn’t all that much, it’s not much of a loss to farm area, and if we play it right, she could be a huge boon. We don’t really have anything to lose. Let’s try it and see what happens.”

    The demurgo’s lip was still curled up in a sneer, but his eyebrows were raised. Mert could see him considering. “All right. You’re right, we can always finish the job later, if it’s not beneficial to the crops. You’ll make it clear what we expect of her?”

    “Yes, sir,” Mert acquiesced, his hand pumping faster, his head bowing to meet it.

    “Good.” The executive leaned back in his chair, grunted a few times, and spurted into Mert’s mouth. He slumped for a moment, then sat up. “Thank you, Mert.”

    Mert stood, nodded, and turned to leave. He closed the door behind him and leaned against the wall next to it, heaving a sigh of relief. He didn’t know what he would have done if he’d been ordered to cut down the trees anyway.

    He walked down the street to the chantry. As he closed the door behind him, the old clerion was standing up from the altar at the front of the radix and closing his green robe. A middle-aged woman, kneeling in front of him, was getting to her feet and wiping her mouth. He gestured at her and whispered, “May charm be within you.” She bowed her head and turned around, meeting Mert’s eye with a brief smile on her way back down the aisle.

    Seeing him, the gray-haired clerion’s face lit up. “Mertrell! What can I do for you, boy?” He boomed in a voice that rose and fell with an odd cadence.

    Mert stepped into an embrace. “Hi, Suvi Yenkli. Actually, I think Suvi Nuri would be a better one for me to talk to.”

    “Oh.” The old man’s face fell. “Well, let’s see if she’s finished.” The hem of his ankle-length vestment flared as he turned. Mert followed him through a door and down a hall. “She was doing some private counseling,” he confided over his shoulder. As they walked down the hall, a door opened and a young man emerged. “Ah, there he is. Do you feel better, son?”

    As they approached, Mert realized that he was hardly more than a boy. He was grinning widely, however. “Yes, Suvi. Much better. She certainly put my mind at ease.”

    “Good lad,” he beamed, patting the kid on the back as he left. “May charm be within you.” Peeking around the doorjamb, Yenkli called out, “Suvi Nuri, you have another request.”

    A woman reclined on cushions on the floor of the small room. The sleeves of her vestment were still on her arms, but the front was open. She was probably in the first half of her fourth decade, and beginning to show it. Her breasts didn’t exactly droop, but neither were they as firm as they had been a decade earlier. Her hips were beginning to acquire more padding as well. Light brown hair cascaded across the pillow, framing a face that was all the more attractive because of the postcoital grin spread across it.

    One hand cupped a breast, while the other slowly massaged between her spread legs. “Do I? Busy day. Just as well, he was a bit overeager.”

    Yenkli cleared his throat and stepped aside, allowing Mert to step into view. Nuri stood unhurriedly, careful not to trip herself up on her trailing robe, but making no effort to cover herself. “Hello, Mert. What can I help you with?”

    “I’ll leave you two alone,” Yenkli said, turning to go.

    “No, no. You should definitely hear about this too, I just meant that I thought Suvi Nuri should be the one to go out and deal with it. But I guess we should all go back out front, in case someone else comes in.”

    Back in the radix, they collected some more cushions and seated themselves on the floor. Nuri had closed her vestment and was sitting demurely on her knees. “Well? What’s so special that you need me in particular?” she asked.

    “You must have heard about the nymph by now.”

    Yenkli nodded, and Nuri’s eyes widened. Her face broke into a huge grin. “Yes! I should have known that’d be why you’d come here. It’s remarkable! It’s only a shame you have to cut down the trees.”

    “That’s kind of the thing.” He explained the nymph’s counteroffer.

    Nuri cocked her head. “Interesting. And Gezi’s going along with that?”

    Mert nodded. “I just talked to him. He’s not happy about it, but he understands how good increased yields would be. I just have to go back and threaten her that if she doesn’t help the crops, the saws will come out again.”

    Nuri nodded slowly and wrinkled her nose. “Well, you’re right, I ought to go talk to her. And just think what we could learn from her! I don’t think anyone has ever had the kind of regular interaction with a nymph that your crew has had. They’re usually much more shy.”

    Mert winced. “Yeah, she was. We kind of backed her against a cliff. Or against an axe, in her case.”

    “I guess we should get going, you can tell me the rest on the way,” Nuri said, getting to her feet.

    “She was happy with the men when I left.” Mert stood as well and raised an eyebrow at her. “It’s not urgent that we leave, if you need to finish what the kid started.”

    “Mmm, I don’t need to, but I could always use another orgasm, if you’re offering,” she purred, stepping in close to him.

    “May charm be within you,” the older klerion intoned again, rising as well and moving to meet another supplicant who had just entered the radix.

    When they arrived back at the camp, the atmosphere was festive. There was the perpetual crowd surrounding the nymph, and various other groups engaged in various other activities, some sexual, others not. Mert and Nuri dismounted and strolled up to the ring of people, which parted to let them into the circle. One of the men engaged with the nymph noticed them and started to extricate himself, but Nuri waved at him to continue and finish.

    When the three of them had fed the nymph, she stood and approached Mert. “This is Suvi Nuri, one of our local clerions. I brought her out here to help smooth things out. Shall we go back to my tent to talk?”

    Nuri held up a hand. “I have a better idea. Let’s go into the grove.” Without waiting for a response, she began walking toward the treeline. The nymph grinned and skipped after her.

    Mert shrugged and smiled slightly. He turned to his nearest assistant. “Send everyone home, we’re done here. And pay them for today anyway. But tell them that anytime they want to come back to the nymph, they’re welcome to.”

    As he followed, Mert saw Nuri shed her robe and hang it over a low branch, then embrace the nymph, her pale flesh flattening against the nymph’s dark brown. She flinched when the nymph leaned in to kiss her, but then caught herself and returned it enthusiastically.

    They were still locked together like that, hands wandering and clutching at each other, when he caught up to them. He slipped an arm around each waist, woman and spirit, and squeezed them gently. They broke contact, each taking one of his hands, and led him into the shadows, followed by the shouts and whistles of the crew that still stood watching.

    Mert’s family had been among the refugees from the south who had moved to Ticklet with the promise of free farmland for new homesteaders. He’d had his eye on a particular spot, back away from the road, and bordering a little brook, that he was going to try to finagle with the little bit of pull he had managed by being the foreman for the treecutting crew.

    Now, however, it made more sense to get land adjacent to The Grove. Moreover, Gezi had nearly insisted on it. “You brokered the deal, you need to keep watch and make sure she holds to it.” Typical politician.

    And she had. The new secum took to the entire region well, and his farm showed distinctly better yields and general health than many of the others that were farther away from The Grove. Not only was his secum the best quality around, but it continued to improve over the years, as the nymph recovered from her brush with extermination.

    Even as The Grove expanded its borders, new growth creeping out from the edges, Mert could hardly begrudge the loss of cultivatable land. Each year, a margin was left around the secum for expansion of the forest undergrowth, and new tree saplings were carefully protected.

    As his children and grandchildren, and their grandchildren grew up, they were introduced to the nymph as well, and told the story of how Mert had saved her, and why they were allowing The Grove to spread, including overtaking the house that Mert had built.

    Over the generations, a smaller and smaller area of farmland remained, and Mert’s descendants earned less from the sale of their secum. The health and bounty of the forest was sufficient to sustain them, however, especially with the aid of the nymph, and her eternal gratitude to the family of her savior.


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