PART ONE: GOLDENFUR
Ch. 2: The Den of the Temptress
By Rick Merriman as Grumby
“The difference between love and lust can be determined by on whom your thoughts dwell. If it is them, it is love; if it is you, it is lust.”
Kala, the Mother of Love and Desire
The Goldenfur found himself in a stone passageway, one like the Elves and Humans constructed in their cities and temples. Mootill thought the stone was bluestone and old, very old.
I have had this dream before, haven’t I? he asked himself as a pleasing chill ran from the base of his human skull to the tip of his feline tail. The walls and ceiling were intricately carved, but their sharp edges were smoothed with age. Some of the intricate details had filled in with dust for what may have been a millennium. Of all the grand things in the passageway, the walls were the most impressive. They were composed of flowing curves from the floor to the ceiling, in what appeared to be random order. These left strange and irregular cavities – some only a few fingers deep but some as deep as three or four hands. In the smallest cavities Mootill found scented flowers or petals. In the larger holes he saw lit candles and soft lanterns. In the largest voids he found statues of beautiful females, both of Furs and those races with only two legs. Mootill then knew this place. Yes, he thought, I have dreamed of it before.
But why am I dreaming of this again? How did I even fall asleep? Is it because I do not think I should kill the Grayfur as part of the leadership ritual?
“Yes,” a soft wind whispered in his eare. “That is exactly why you are here. You should not kill the Grayfur.”
“Who are you and how do you know my mind?” he challenged the whispering wind as he continued down the passageway.
No answer came.
“It is I… challenging myself.” He realized with a downward glance at the black marble floor.
Mootill moved forward and realized he had gone this way the last time … and the time before that. In fact, he had travelled that way each time he had the dream. Behind him there was only darkness … and the things that live in darkness. No. Moving forward is the only choice. Besides, there is something in front of me that is pleasurable. I cannot remember what it is … but it is something I want.
Mootill meandered down the passageway, savoring the journey. He could see light ahead of him; not so much that it blinded him, but enough to cut the seductive dimness filling the cavity. The smells he was enjoying were distinctly feminine and were brought to him on a soft draft which seemed to come from all directions – and no direction. The breeze caressed the fur of his lion body, the coat of his wolf haunches, and the small hairs on his human arms, face, and neck. It made them all stand on end and sent tingles through him. The feeling was pleasant as were all the feelings in this part of the dream.
As he moved forward he began to hear the soft tweet of a flute, singing sweetly as any songbird. With a few more steps the lonely flautist, wherever he was hidden, was joined by a violin. The duo floated tunes throughout the cavern in perfect harmony; each note true and perfect to Mootill’s ears.
Mootill could not feel his feet moving as he progressed – he was not even sure if his feet were moving. Are they? he questioned himself. Am I even walking? It was more like an effortless glide, controlled more by his wishes and thoughts than by the movement of his four legs. As always, his mood was elevated. Then he remembered: I should not be – I am in the den of a temptress.
At the end of the passageway, the Goldenfur finally came to a stout black oak door. It was immense, being twice as wide as Mootill was tall and then half again in height. The door was covered with paintings far older than he, or of any from his village as far as Mootill could determine. Their color was faded like the beauty of a grandmother’s face but still retained the character, hopes, and dreams she had when still young. Like the statues in the passageway, the paintings on the doors were all of females. Women folk of many races; all beautiful, many nude, often suggestive in the ways of love.
Mootill paused at the door. He had been here before. What lay beyond he craved – any male would crave. But it is taboo. Had the Wise One not cautioned him of these dreams? He warned me this very day, Mootill thought.
He paused in his journey – he was dreaming, and knew he was dreaming. With that knowledge I should be able to wake up. I must wake up, he kept telling himself, I must wake up!
The Gods, or mayhap it was another, did not give him the chance to retreat, or awake, for the doors at the end of the passageway opened slowly, simply sliding into the solid bluestone walls which housed them.
A new breeze flowed over him, this one filled not only with the fragrance of flowers but also of scented oils – the kind used by young females when they are looking for a mate. Mootill was sure the cornucopia of pungent fragrances included a hint of the pheromone that was uniquely Fur and distinctively female. It instantly aroused him, just as the gods had intended that particular aroma to do since the beginning of time.
The breeze also brought amplified sound, the soft flute and violin duo’s tune had increased in both volume and speed. The new beat seemed in perfect timing with soft silken drapes which appeared to be hanging from … nowhere. The music’s tempo is even in the beat of my own heart, the Fur thought in wonderment. It was all the way he had dreamed before. Many times before.
Mootill knew he should try to awaken again… but he could not… I am not sure I want to.
“Lay on the pillows,” a seductive voice came to him, “we can partake of some Permian Brandy.” The voice was much higher in tone than Mootill’s – it was soft, silky and overwhelmingly feminine.
Mootill centered his mind and concentrated. He had not been successful before, but this time he would be. You are naught but a Succubus and an agent of Barak – you are not beautiful, but an ugly old hag, He repeated to himself in three quick successions – just as Oomba had taught him to do.
“Am I?” Traesha replied, revealing herself to him.
The shape shifter was in her true form. Traesha was of Dark Fae descent, or so the Book of Goldenfur said. Her body was slender but at the same time it flowed with wondrous curves of femininity, not only her hips and chest, but even the pleasant undulating lines of her shoulder, thighs and arms. Her exposed skin was the deepest of blue, far bluer than that of the sky, and without any blemishing clouds. Traesha’s hair was raven, not unlike that of the Blackfurs in Mootill’s village but with far more sheen – it seemed to pick up light from everywhere in the chamber.
No, thought Mootill answering her question. She may not look like an old hag, but I must be careful of her kind.
Traesha had appeared directly in front of him, from where, exactly, Mootill was not sure. Though she only stood on two legs, she was quite tall and willowy, the top of her head being even with his nose. Her unfurled Fae wings reached the tips of Mootill’s golden ears. She moved forward, stretched up and whispered in his ear, “Should we begin where we left off?”
“No!” Mootill said, pulling away from the succubus, remembering how close he had come to coupling with her during his last dream, “I now know who you are… what you are … and I will have nothing to do with the likes of you.”
“And who am I?” she asked seductively. “Last time you seemed not to care who I was… or what I am.
“You are Treasha, the succubus mistress to Father Quont and Barak, you are nothing but a vessel of evil who has interfered with Goldenfurs as long as any can remember.” His voice was raised, filled with the frustrations of an unwanted dream.
“Not entirely true,” the Dark Fae responded softly, almost painfully. It was clear that Traesha was affected by his tone when calling her a Succubus and she retracted her magnificent wings flush against her indigo back, making her appear far smaller. “I was not always a succubus … I still remember, even if no one else can…” Her voice trailed off with what sounded like a hint of sadness.
Is that the beginnings of a tear? The Goldenfur thought, seeing a glint of water in the corner of the Dark Fae’s eye. He had not expected that. In none of his previous dreams had the Dark Fae shown even a hint of sadness. Did I imagine it? he thought, or has something changed? Then both the trace of melancholy and misting of the eyes, if it was actually there, disappeared. In its place was the sultry confidence of an accomplished temptress.
“I am not a vessel of evil but one of love. Love for my Master Quont and his Master Barak … and love for all the races on Mernac,” She told him as she lazily ran her finger down the length of his human chest, taking special care to slowly circle each of his nipples.
Even with his poisonous words Mootill was not able to move away from the hand she gently placed on his shoulder. I must totally denounce her, be rid of her, Mootill thought, trying to gather the strength to dispel the lusty trance he was falling into yet again. “You are nothing but a monster. Be gone succubus!” he finally hissed at her.
Mootill thought he saw the hint of hurt again, just for the briefest instant, before Traesha took her hands from him and stepped back. “Hmmmmm, and what fun you could have had with me… and I with you. Disappointing.”
She slowly stepped back from him, made a seductive pirouette, dripping more with sexual tension than with artistic form. As she spun, her loose silken dress clung tightly to her body. “Are you sure I do not have what you crave?” she asked – her long tongue absently circling her full and luscious lips.
The Goldenfur did not respond, but simply looked away from her near-naked body. “I am betrothed to a beautiful Fur. I have no interest in the soiled wares of the Father’s shape-shifting concubine,” He told her with contempt. “With a Fur as beautiful as Loosha, why would I ever have any interest in the likes of you?”
The succubus seemed to be taken aback – almost amazed that she was being rebuffed. “Did you know before I became mistress to Quont that…” Traesha hesitated, as if someone besides Mootill may hear. “No Matter,” she finally continued. “On to our business. I have been sent to warn you. Mootill you cannot complete your leadership ritual. The consequences would be grave if you do – very grave”
“You speak of the massacre of most in my clan, and the wars that may ensue?” Mootill asked regarding the foreshadowing Traesha had shared with him during previous dreams.
“Yes,” she whispered seductively, the reaction to Mootill’s snub apparently forgotten. The curvaceous Dark Fae was now pressing her body against his. “My masters want me to do whatever it takes to convince you not to complete the final part. You can even get the claw from the Tumba, and any additional steps Oomba may require, but do not kill the travelling Grayfur.”
At the word ‘kill’ Mootill pushed her away and turned away from her.
“You do not even want to kill the Grayfur, do you Mootill?” Traesha asked.
“It is not your concern what I may or may not want to do,” he told her, but his body language spoke volumes – killing any creature was against everything he had ever been taught. Being asked to kill the Grayfur seemed to contradict all he held important, but this is what Oomba had told him he must do.”
“You do not have to kill him, nor should you. Are you not from the clan of the Gentle Ones?”
Mootill side-stepped her question and posed one of his own, “Why are your masters even interested? It can only be for evil purposes.”
“Not according to history,” Mootill retorted.
“Whose history?” she asked. “The truth of history is only as true as those who write it.” The succubus then seemed to drop all her overt sensual overtures and tried to look the Goldenfur straight in the eyes, but he avoided her gaze.
“Mootill, is it possible that what you have been taught… is not the whole truth?
“It is not” he replied flatly. His mind, however, was ablaze with conflicting emotions. Had he not sometimes questioned the writings in the Book of Goldenfur? I find little discrepancies, or what I think are discrepancies almost daily. No! He pushed the beginning of false thoughts away from his mind, just as Oomba, The Wise One had taught him to do. “No, it is not possible,” he repeated out loud, but this time his voice was not as confident.
“Mootill, it is told that a Goldenfur can always decipher the truth by looking directly into the eyes of the teller.”
“It is true,” He replied. He did not move to look into her eyes and made no attempt to move his gaze when she moved but a paw’s width from him and looked directly into his eyes and began to speak.
“If you are successful in the ritual and kill Eetoo the travelling Grayfur, your village will be attacked, most will die and within a moon all the races of Mernac will be at war.” Her voice was even and with no undue emphasis; it was calm and flat. It rang of truth in a black and white way, not unlike when Furs present unappealing or dangerous facts of life to their cubs. It did not have, however, any shades of gray; Just as parents often purposely withhold details from their youngest before they have enough seasons to fully comprehend. However, Mootill felt there was no deceit in her words.
Even with the ring of truth in her voice the Goldenfur needed more. Mootill looked deep in her eyes just as Oomba had shown him. Her eyes were remarkable, irises made up of a hundred hues of blue, each darker than the next, each with a subtle highlight of gray or silver, lending an unexpected softness and vulnerability to her. But it was not the iris Mootill sought it was the Pupils. Like all those of Fae decent, they were far larger than most races and as dark as a moonless night. Traesha‘s were deep, soft and sensual, all at the same time.
Mootill thought he would find a dead spot at the back of her eyes – that is what one would expect from those who come from the races of the dark. Over the seasons he had looked into the eyes of Trolls, Gnomes, Orcs, and other Races of the Fathers and seen nothing but dimness. The Dark Faes are a race of the fathers so they will have no soul – If there is no soul, how can there be a window? the Goldenfur thought. The depths of the succubus’ eyes were different. Mootill thought he saw a glimmer of light – the glimmer of a soul. It was soft – much softer than an Elf’s or a Fur’s – it was flickering and subdued as if a candle almost spent – but it was there. Around the glimmer, there was a tinge of blue – the sign Oomba had taught him to watch for when determining truth.
Mootill staggered back with the realization. The realization that if he killed the Grayfur his village would be decimated.
Traesha stood back and said nothing as the comprehension flowed through the Goldenfur. Her demeanor also changed with the passing moments. Gone was the overt sexual overtures and enticing movement. In their place was the body language of a demure youth trying to lend comfort.
“You know now what I say is true,” Traesha said softly.
“Your… your soul shows me yes,” the Goldenfur answered. He paused then continued in dismay, “How is it possible you are a Dark Fae and mistress to the Fathers? You have a light in your soul. The Book of Goldenfur teaches us that this is the difference between the Races of the Light and those of the Dark… it is the teachings directly from the Mothers.”
“Your good book may be flawed,” she replied quietly. Maybe other teachings are wrong as well,” She paused for a second. “Like those about me…” her voice trailed off but Mootill could sense the note of sadness he thought he had heard before. “And of my motivations to help you. Mootill, look into my eyes again, I need you to clearly believe all my words.”
Mootill did as she bade him.
“Mootill, long ago, long before the nonsense of the Mothers and the Fathers, when we just called them Gods, I came into this world not as a Dark Fae as you see now. That persona came far later. I was born to this world as a Fur – a Silverfur, not unlike your betrothed, Loosha.”
As she finished speaking the transformation began. Her bones seemed to multiply and extend; the sinew, muscle and skin with it. Her curvaceous rear end extended back as two new legs appeared – strong, muscular, lion-like rear haunches, not unlike his own. Her Fae legs reconfigured as front haunches, extending up to also create the lower canine clavicle and lower shoulders typical of any Fur. Only from the upper human torso on up did the beautiful Dark Fae remain somewhat the same. Covering her lion and wolf portions was thick and luscious fur of a light almost translucence silver. Her once raven hair on her human head was now silver, but somehow still retained the magical highlights Mootill noticed when the succubus was in her Dark Fae form. Once the transformation was complete, she did, if truth be known, look remarkably like Loosha, save her dark blue eyes – eyes which Traesha maneuvered so that Mootill could once again look deeply into them.
“The soul you see is the soul of a Fur. A Fur deathly afraid of how the Mothers are manipulating you, and the tragic result it will cause if you undergo this ritual created by Siberlee. If you complete it, our race may be completely destroyed.” The tears which had begun to appear several times now welled up in her eyes and began to roll down her cheeks.
Mootill saw the same dim glow surrounded by a blue tinge in her eyes he had seen before. He saw what seemed to be a tortured soul. Tortured just as he was.
On feeling her remorse of what may be, and seeing the tears now flow down her face, he instinctively went to comfort her – it was the Fur way. He placed his arms around her protectively and then started licking the salty trail of tears from her cheek.
She in turn placed her arms around him and clung to him as though he was her last hope. She craned her neck up and kissed him softly on the lips. To his own surprise Mootill did not retract even though he was betrothed. The feeling this time was different than the pure lust which had often driven him in previous dreams. It feels natural, it feels … good, the Goldenfur thought to himself in amazement. Mootill then felt Traesha’s body stiffen.
“Mootill, I feel Siberlee’s magic looking for you throughout the land of dreams, our time is short. Please promise me that you will not finish the last part of the ritual. You know in your heart it is wrong. I will help you along the path.”
“It is wrong but….” The Goldenfur started but before he could finish Siberlee’s magic did indeed find him. One second he was comforting Traesha, the next she was gone.