Artwork (c) 2005 by Barton
My next days were very busy. It seemed like every other night, I would be summoned to the Grand Builder’s house, there to receive further instruction in the ways of the Great Architect. There was much to learn, and I was questioned at the start of every session to be sure I had remembered all that had gone before; if I did not, I would be given the entirety of the former lesson all over again. It made me pay attention, even on those days when I was weary and desired only to sleep. The lessons were complex enough to make me dazed and weary, trying to remember it all.
Another thing that worried me was Keotin. As I learned more of the Great Architect, and as I tried to tell him the marvelous things I was learning about this new god and his worship. Keotin was a stonecutter the same as I, I had expected him to be as enthusiastic about this new god as I was. Yet as the days went on, he drew apart from me, became more distant. He began to make himself a bed away from mine, and I came home from instruction two days later to find that he had moved out of my house. My inquiries among the workers did not find him, though the artisans of which he was now one did not fraternize much with us.
“He’s learning the ways of the artists.” one worker said with a good deal of common sense. “Why should he wish to remain among those of us who toil still in the light of day, and must bear the burns of Ra upon our skins. His skin is losing its resistance and he must hide as the others do, away from the light, away from the day. Let him go, Kephrin. He has another life now.”
That made sense, as I said, and yet. “He is my friend and my lover of many years.” I said. “I cannot let him go without speaking with him at least one final time.”
“Then you must enter the future abode of our Pharaoh’s spirit.” the man said. “To do that, you must seek leave from the steward to leave your stone-cutting for a day. It will take that long to persuade the others to let you pass within their sphere of control.” The man paused. “They feel that those of us outside bring with us bad spirits. They themselves shun the light, in order that they may see all the better in the dark.”
Had Keotin done this, gone away in order to avoid the very sunlight? It seemed incredible, and yet, it was the only thing that I could think of that would cause him to move out of our home. Though it did not explain why he did not rejoin our company after the sun had gone down.
To get the steward to give me a day off from work, I would need to either sham sickness or pay him a bribe. Of the two, the bribe seemed to me to be the more honorable approach. Stewards were held accountable for the amount of work done each day, to compensate him for my lack of labor seemed only fair.
I took with me an arm bracelet that bore upon it the mark of Isis, and it was made of silver. The steward was well willing to permit me the day off from work for this, and I made my way to the unfamiliar steps that led down into the tombs.
And was stopped by the guards there. “Why do you come this way, stonecutter?” I was asked.
“I wish to see Kephrin, the man from my village who now whitewashes the walls for the artisans. There is something of which I must speak with him.”
“Can you not speak to him when he returns to your home?” the guard asked.
“That...is not convenient.” I said. “May I pass?”
The guard considered this, waved to a man working not far inside. “Go find the new whitewasher and tell him his fellow villager is here to see him. Ask him if he wishes to see this man.”
“What is the whitewasher’s name?” the artisan asked.
“Keotin.” I supplied.
“I know him.” the artisan nodded. “He is working in the second chamber.”
“Go and ask him then.” the guard ordered. His tone made me wonder about the society of the artisans, what was it that the guards could give an order to an artisan and have it obeyed?
But the artisan came back and gestured me forward and the guards let me pass without further communication. He stopped me and said, “You must wear a cloth about your head. We cannot have loose hairs fall into the paints. Cleanliness is important to us artisans. It is less important to you outside.” His sniff of arrogance was palpable but I was eager to see Keotin, I let his snub slide off my back without comment. I went in after him down the long hallway, and very soon, the darkness about us was oppressive. There were lights here and there, but I could see very little. Maybe the artisans did have a good reason to avoid the light of Ra, if it would sensitize their eyes to this dark life they led.
After a time, we stopped and I had to crawl up a short ladder into an overhead area and from there we had to crawl for an interminable distance. My knees ached and my shoulders were scraped time and again by a rough section of stone. No stonecutter would have tolerated such projections! The artisans must have carved it themselves!
After a time, we came out into another chamber. A single light shone in the distance, its circle of yellow was all I could see. We approached me, me half-blind, and as we got closer, I could see that in its light was working not one but several artisans. And at the edge of this light’s furthest reach, spreading the white paste evenly just beyond a place where another had drawn crude markings to show the figures that would be painted there in greater detail, was Keotin.
“Keotin.” I said, and though my tone was soft, it reverbrated in the stone chamber as though I had shouted.
He turned and said, “My dear friend, Kephrin.”
“We shall leave you alone here and work in the inner chamber for time.” one of the others said, and they left us alone.
Keotin guided us both over to the wall. “So long as we speak softly here, we will not be heard by them.” He informed me.
“I came only to find out why you have left our home.” I said. “My father and I miss you, Keotin. I miss you even more than my father.”
“You have your Great Architect.” Keotin pointed out. “Cannot you find solace in him.” The tone of his voice was quite cool.”
“Keotin, please.” I said. “Tell me how I have offended you. If you will return, I shall never speak of the Great Architect again in your presence. I swear this.”
“You have your new life now.” Keotin said. “As I have mine. It is better if we seek our new lives without hindering each other.”
“I cannot believe this is why you have left me.” I said. “We were always close, Keotin, we had no secrets from each other. What is happening here?”
Keotin looked about and leaned close. His voice was barely above a whisper in my ear.
“You are a worshiper of the Great Architect. I am a member of the artisans now.”
“What does that mean?” I asked him, which was not a foolish question. What I meant was what relation did the two factions have with each other. Our world was of many gods, each with their followers. At times, there could be disagreement, even fights, between the adherents. Had Keotin and I ended up on opposite sides of such a situation?
“Your god speaks of the supremacy of the builders.” Keotin pointed out. “The artisans feel that the builders create only the frame upon which they bring forth the final beauty.”
“I...I had not thought on this.” I admitted miserably. “I thought only that I had found at last a god whom looked kindly upon my work. And upon yours, for you were a stonecutter as I was.”
“No longer.” Keotin pointed out. “I do the whitewash, but I also watch and study the artisans. In time, I hope to be the one who places the glyphs upon the walls in all their glory. Where, then, among such dreams, is room for the Great Architect that is now a major part of your life?”
“There will always be room in my life for you, my beloved Keotin.” I said. “The Great Architect must have room for the artisans, to make more beautiful the works of his tools.”
Keotin smiled slowly. “I wished only to make both our lives easier.” He said to me. “But my love for you remains as it ever was. Never doubt that, Kephrin, though now we will spend so many of our days apart.”
“It is not my choice.” I said. “My days of instruction cannot go on much longer, and when they do, I will have time again to seek you out after the hours of darkness. But for now, I am weary from my long hours of study that I can scarce keep my eyes open on the nights I have to myself.”
“Then we must make the best of the time we have.” Keotin said. “When must you return to your duties?”
“I have the entire day.” I said. “I bribed the steward with the silver bracelet given me by our aunt.”
“The entire day.” Keotin said. “The artisans will not return from the third chamber until the midday meal.”
“That gives us a goodly amount of time right now.” I smiled. “And it has been many days for you and me.”
“Too many days.” Keotin agreed.
“Then let us not waste this time.” I said and I knelt before my longtime lover.
He fumbled at his wrap with a haste that spoke of his eagerness. I knew Keotin this well, he had not made love to anyone in days. When his cock was aimed at my lips, it wept with enthusiasm, and I reached with my tongue to kiss off that clear pearl of luscious salty flavor. Then I took his head within my mouth and Keotin groaned. “Oh, Kephrin, my lover and my life!” he gasped. “I have missed you!”
“No more than I.” I said as I released his prick, though a long rope of clear precome linked us yet. “We cannot let these new events in our lives change our family. We mean too much to each other.” And I returned to my working upon his cock.
“We shall see what we shall see.” Keotin said. “But if it can be done, we will remain together.”
I was ready to settle for that. My tongue swirled about on the underside of his prick, delighting the flesh and winning from him those throaty groans that I loved to hear so well. He leaned back against the wall, his body framed by the black lines of what would become the glyphs of power, the prayers that would guide our Pharaoh’s spirit to his new realm. That he was a part of this made our joining so much more sweet. With me to intercede for him with the Great Architect, and him to intercede for me with the spirit of the Pharaoh, could we not together find ourselves in the favored lands upon our own deaths?
“Ah, Kephrin.” Keotin sighed as my tongue won fresh pleasure from him. “You know me better than anyone. How can I leave you, even though they command me? We must be together, we must, or I shall never find peace!” And my lover’s hands caught my head and thrust at me hard and I knew his climax was upon him. I clung therefore the harder though his strength was overbearing, and then his orgasm was pouring his sperm down my throat. I drank it with a desperation, for who knew when we could manage this combining of our bodies again?
Done, Keotin gasped and caught his breath, and then said, “Now, my beloved, it is my turn to pleasure you.”
I stood as Keotin knelt, my stomach churning for Keotin rarely performed this service for me. Yet when he took my cock into his mouth, his ability was all I would wish and more. His warm mouth enclosed and caressed me, his tongue was as adept as mine had been, he held on with a grip that did not release me for an instant, his strength was converted into giving me pleasure, in wringing joy from my body, and I was transported by his expertise.
I was wrought up and well on my way to climax when Keotin stopped. I was surprised, but he said, “Lie down on the floor.”
I obeyed, wondering, and as I did, on my back at Keotin’s gently guiding hands bid me, Keotin straddled me and I moaned as Keotin’s body lowered onto mine and my cock was surrounded by the heat of his anus as he took me into himself.
“Now we are joined properly.” Keotin said to me as I shivered from the intensity. If Keotin rarely sucked my cock, he even more rarely gave his body to me like this, this was but our third time in this way and both times before had been when he was feeling insecure and needful of my comfort. This time, however, was different in that he was astride me, not beneath, and he rode me with all the mastery of a charioteer over his horses, and I was not allowed by his body’s power to contribute in any way, only to lay there and be ridden!
And so Keotin bounced upon me, his muscles gleaming from his sweat in the dim light, so that he was half in golden relief, and half in darkness, and his smile at the top of it was all that kept it from being almost frightening, for he was my love, and how could such a one ever bring harm to me?
“Oh, ah, ah, ah!” I moaned as my ecstasy grew within me. The sound of my voice was frighteningly loud in the chamber, it echoed and threw my voice back to me over and over again, building upon itself until it was a chorus of voices, all of them in the dulcet tones of lust, and in this choir around me, I shuddered, my cock swelled, heated, and burst upwards into Keotin’s clutching anus.
I spewed with a ferocity I didn’t know I had in me, I shot hard, my jets solid pulses within my shaft, I could feel each of them as they ripped through me and up into Keotin's body, and he milked them out of me as they arrived, clinging and holding them all deep within himself.
And it was over, and I was gasping for breath and Keotin grinned down at me.
And then his head raised up and I felt his warm, pliable body stiffen and chill with fear.
I looked and two artisans were standing there, looking at our bodies joined. Their faces were stern and I knew they were displeased.
Keotin got off of me and said, “My dearest friend, you should go now.”
“Will you come back to our home, then?”
Keotin looked at the artisans, and shook his head. “I fear that cannot be. We travel different paths, you and I. It is best if we remain apart.”
What had changed Keotin’s mind so quickly, so thoroughly?
Then I remembered his words as I had given him joy. “How can I leave you, even though they command me?” he had said.
I settled, then, for a formal bow of parting and left.
I did not understand all of what was going on here, but I knew one thing.
Keotin and I were caught up in forces that were pulling in opposite directions. How far apart those directions would be, and what they would mean for my family, and for my country, remained to be seen.
THE END OF CHAPTER FOUR
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