7 Deadly Sins – Gluttony

You feel it, don’t you?

The voice was impossible.

One moment it boomed like thunder, shaking the space around him and making his ears ring. He was sure his bones would be shattered to pieces if the sound lasted much longer.

The next moment the voice was a whisper, an intimate breath of wind against the nape of his neck that made him want to shiver. Each word slithered over his skin like disembodied fingers sliding up and down the length of his body.

And for a moment, somehow, it was both, though he could not fathom how that could possibly be.

Even in the silence that followed he could still feel the after-echoes, the words lingering in his mind like ghosts.

But even those were swallowed up by what followed, by a feeling even greater, and more terrible. He could not deny the question put to him. His stomach rumbled and ached, his traitor of a body calling out for food. In all his years he’d never been made to go hungry, had never known a day without the bounty of the farms and jungle at his fingertips. Never knew a night without the sweet taste of wine on his lips. But he also knew instinctively what hunger felt like now, as if his stomach would fold in on itself. The emptiness, the fatigue, the sheer force of need. It was as if he hadn’t eaten in weeks or, he realized, as the warm coils around him tightened, a millennia.

He was going to die if he didn’t eat something. Of this he was sure.

Only, he realized with growing horror, he couldn’t die.

He was immortal. No, the god inside of him was immortal, and he would live so long as that god made use of his body. He was sure it would leave him to suffer the gnawing hunger for all eternity. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t his mind; his stomach still felt the pain and the desire. The god hadn’t feasted in so long, and so neither had he. The sweet fruits and succulent meats he’d glutted himself on for his last meal seemed a lifetime ago, though it had been less than a day. The god’s hunger wasn’t just inside of him, it was him, and he was powerless to separate himself from it.

“I do,” he muttered.

It was too much, and he cried out. He felt invisible fingers sinking into his mind, peeling his thoughts back like banana leaves. They sifted though his memories, nibbling at the edges of his last meal, draining the color and taste from them. Before it went too dark, however, the feeling stopped, and he felt a wave of distaste wash over him.

It is as ash. Your food does not satisfy my hunger.

For a few moments the presence went still, letting the hunger grow and fill the void until it overwhelmed him, and he couldn’t help but wonder if this was some sort of punishment. It hurt, more than any wound could have, as if a pit had opened in the very core of his body.

He would eat anything at this point to make the pain go away, anything at all to stop the terrible hunger. He would gratefully gnaw a leather sandal strap, suck the skin from rotted fruit, gobble raw meat upon the ground.

The being inside of him shifted, practically purring at the last of his thoughts. A single phantom finger slid down his cheek, warm and dry, moving so smoothly he almost didn’t feel it.

Do not worry, my little vessel. I would not have us eat off the ground.

The words were like a gentle wind through dry grass, announcing the coming of a stalking jaguar. It sent a sickly shudder through him. It was a promise, he had no doubt.

What was more concerning though was that his body did not mirror that shiver. Up until now he’d been content enough to stay still but now he tried to move his arms and, while his mind registered that the motion should have occurred, nothing outside happened. It was the same with his legs, his fingers, even his eye lids. He started to panic, trying to reach out for something to grasp onto, but there was nothing, as if he were floating below the black surface of the nearby lake. He drew in several quick breaths, forcing his breathing to even out, even if his heart thrummed away in his chest.

Strangely enough, he could look out through his own eyes and observe the world around him. Even as he struggled in the nothing, he found himself looking into the large polished glass set into the wall of his room. His lips pulled back in a predatory smile, exposing his teeth. His brown eyes flashed, quick as a snake striking from the brush. His fingers ran deftly through his long raven hair, teased over his cheeks, and brushed across his lips. He looked pleased with himself, but he felt none of it, not his skin, or silky hair, nor the press of the fine cloth draped over his slender form.

He was trapped in his own body, tied, unable to do anything but watch and feel whatever the god wanted him to feel. Surely he would go mad like this, stuck amid the smothering heat and hunger.

The great serpent moved his legs. Down they went, through hallways, and stairwells, to the special ritual chamber that lay in the belly of the temple. He’d been there before, and longed to feel the smooth hewed stone, cool under his feet and the sense of mild dampness that seeped in below. The senses were there, vaguely, but he wondered if the god even felt such things. They were small feelings, perhaps inconsequential to one so grand. The god seemed to need powerful feelings and sensations to take notice of them. Always needing more and more.

The chamber they entered was small but empty, though as he approached he caught a whiff of the burnt charcoal and reed smell that usually clung to the high priest. The man had been here, recently no doubt, to prepare the room. As far as the man knew he was gone, and it was only the god that now walked the halls. No doubt he was eager to serve in all ways, pleased his ritual had been a success.

All the candles were in their proper places, bathing the room in flickering light, and flowers and cuttings from the surrounding jungle festooned nearly every surface. But their sweet scents were completely overpowered by another, far more sickly smell, that he didn’t have to stretch himself to catch.

In the center of the room, on a small altar, sat the great obsidian cauldron, its surface polished to a near perfect black glass, with sharp edges that could cut the careless. He knew what it was for, had seen it used so many times, but it seemed today it was all for him. It was filled, near to overflowing, with what the god had come here to find; recently harvested hearts. It only made sense that the god made flesh would need to feed, and there had been plenty of stock to pull from.

This. This is what we have hungered for, is it not?

They approached. Steam rose from the pile, and he could almost feel the warmth radiating from it without even touching it. The air smelt of iron, like the edge of a sword. The offering should have sickened him, turned his stomach. But, with a growing dread, all he felt was that ravishing hunger, washing away all other thoughts. It was exactly what he hungered for.

He flew forward, plunging his hands into the pile of meat and, for a moment, he couldn’t tell if he’d guided the move or if the god had. In that moment it didn’t matter; they were one step closer to what they wanted. He pushed deeper into the slickness, the heat inside feeling near enough to burn his hands, but he didn’t stop until his arms were sunk in to the elbows, and there they rested.

The smell of blood and offal assaulted him, but his stomach rumbled pleadingly, and he could feel his lips drawing upward in a pleased smile.

The god reveled in the heat, the sensation, the knowledge that all these hearts had been torn free for him. The serpent wanted and so he wanted.

His hands closed over a pair of hearts and drug them free from the rest. His arms were painted red that smeared over the pale linens he wore, but that was of little matter. He lifted one of the hearts and stuffed it into his mouth, biting out a huge chunk. Warm wetness filled his mouth, but he felt no disgust. He tore and bit, and pulled the flesh away, and swallowed in one great gulp. And for a moment that impossible hunger eased, and he held a glimmer of hope that this could, finally, sate him.

The feast began. He ate until his body was half covered in red. Ate until the heat began to cool. Ate until he felt as if he were going to burst from the inside. How his stomach could contain this much he would never know. But it soothed the horrible ache, and suffused him with a sense of strength and power that was not his own. He felt powerful, invincible, ready to strangle the world in his coils.

Through it all he was aware of being both apart from himself but still there, as if someone had lashed him to his own body, and drowning in the desires and being of another, near the threat of losing himself. He knew, deep down, this was how his life was going to be from now on. Watching every moment, but helpless to change it. He may as well have died. That, he thought, might have been a kindness.

Finally the god finished and rested for a time. He took some small comfort from the hearts filling his insides. But as the time passed he began to realize, with a great dismay, that the hunger began to creep back inside of him. He gave a cry and felt the god stir.

An amused chuckle sounded right against his ear.

The hunger never really dies. That is the fate of a god. A fate you now share. But there is power to be had. You will see.

Now that I possess flesh to walk in I will feed, and drink the life blood of this world. There are not enough beating hearts in this world, on any world, to sate my hunger. Not forever. But this world has mortals aplenty to appease it.

Again invisible fingers slid over him, dry and soft, and no matter what he did he could not escape them. He shuddered.

Oh my little vessel, this is just the beginning. I have so many wonderful things to show you. It will be truly glorious. 

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Quetzal – Understanding

But no easy answer would come to the serpent in the days following Domerin’s rejection of his advances. Try as he would to dismiss the conversation they’d had his mind kept swinging back to it, as if pulled inexorably by a force he could not explain. It had been so easy in the past to brush the man off, to forget him in the moments he wasn’t serving his desires. But even he realized that over the years that had become harder to do. He’d never wanted to admit that a mortal had any sort of power over him but as terrifying as the thought was part of him knew it simply wasn’t true anymore. He wanted Domerin, wanted what only Domerin could give him and that made him more precious than gems or temples built in his honor. Even the simplest thing could take on the greatest of meanings given the right situation.

With no urgent business in the city to occupy his mind the first day he’d tried to separate himself from his vessel, thinking being in his own form would rid him of the bothersome feelings. Surely whatever was bothering him lived in mortal flesh, some sort of taint he could easily rid himself of. But even on another plane, with the myriad forces at his call, he could not let them go. They were there, unavoidable like a grain of sand inside an oyster, and worrying over them was making it larger and larger. Frustrated and determined to find an answer to his questions he returned to the mortal plain. It had been the middle of the night when he’d reentered Sesha, dragging the man out of his sleep and pushing him aside while began to replay bits of his vessel’s memories, trying to find an easy solution to his quandary. Hours passed. He maneuvered the body almost without thinking to take care of any annoying biological functions but otherwise he seemed to just sit there, ignoring all else, focused on the within as he tried to understand.

Usually when he returned to Sesha after the man had spent time with Domerin he focused only on any information that would allow him to play and torment. He’d known the moment the man had begun to desire Domerin all those years ago and he’d used it well against him in the time since but after knowing it he’d had no reason to return to it, to live inside it. Each new thought and feeling had only been useful to him as fodder. Everything he was given he used to further himself. Hadn’t Domerin said as much of him? He’d been ruling over mortals since time unremembered but that didn’t mean he understood how they really worked. Now, though, he played through memories slowly trying to understand the why.

The morning came and went while he jumped from one memory to another until he found one that suited. He watched, as if standing over them, a recent memory of Domerin and Sesha joining, focusing on his vessel’s face. Domerin’s words came back to him asking for his moans, his trembling body. In the moment he watched again, letting each feeling from his vessel wash over him uninterrupted, the sheer intensity of a human feeling that was not fear or simple lust. It was so different from what he was used to feeling and even outside of the pleasure there was the sense of something else, something that one person could not do alone. He realized the closest he’d ever felt to it was with Domerin in his chamber, two working towards one goal. Slow or fast, it didn’t matter. He was not sure what compulsion took him then, perhaps some last attempt to show he would not be affected, but lastly he watched the memory once more but from Sesha’s perspective. He’d never tried to do this before, the thought had never crossed his mind, but now he wanted to feel it. He expected to fear being on his back, being under, being entered. But In those moments none of that were what mattered. The moans were his and it was his body that trembled beneath Domerin. The man was inside of him and he wanted it more than anything. He wanted it to last forever. He was part of something with someone else, completely, and it felt so right. In those moments, before he could stop himself, he understood why someone would desire this.

He’d pulled back from it feeling shaken, unsure, and exposed. Never before had his vessel felt so confining. The only person who knew was Sesha and though the man wasn’t laughing at him he felt him very strongly there in his mind, as if he were watching. He knew he shouldn’t have touched the memory in such a way but it was too late to take it back now when even his anger could not burn through the feelings left over. He remembered other conversations as if his vessel were offering them up to him, the priest’s only way to rebel against his master in his moments of weakness. Domerin saying so frankly that he did not like to be taken, that he hated it in part because he felt discarded, that it didn’t mean anything. Snippets of conversation that he’d heard but passed over for years as not important. But even if it was not important to him it was important to Domerin. He’d never thought of someone else’s feelings in that way before, at least not this seriously.

Part of him knew he had to fight against this. The god’s anger swelled inside of him, coils trying to close around his heart and mind. Surely it was his right to take whatever and whoever whenever he wished!? He’d said as much to Domerin in their last conversation but each time the man had refuted him. Each time he’d tried to explain the the thing he’d just felt inside of a memory. How could you put something like that to words? Unbidden he remembered Domerin’s hands running over a body as if it had been his own. Domerin’s scent, and weight, and heat and in those moments the flesh he wore shivered along with him. Never before had he felt so connected to the body he walked around in. He remembered so vividly Domerin’s whispers of pleasure as he tortured him in the chamber. His wish that those moments could last forever if only they could. He wanted Domerin again like that but knew it was not possible now. Denial was anathema to a god but it was there, unavoidable. Hadn’t Domerin said he wanted the same thing? So many thoughts he could not banish all rushing for his attention was a torment in itself. His need swirled inside of him mixing with his anger, and his fear. At some point he’d banished the servants from entering, though how many days had passed he could not quite say.

Domerin was not just any man, not just some cowering mortal. This was the man who’d challenged him from the moment they’d met, refused to bow to his whims. He’d desired him then as a possession, a toy but they were beyond that now. Another memory sprang up, his vessel’s shock when Domerin had spoken that he’d rather die than keep on this way. He’d given him his freedom then, thinking it would be enough. Instead he’d been surprised at what Domerin had done with it and been angry. He’d assumed things wouldn’t change. Of course a wolf on too short a leash would long to roam free. Domerin had left him. He’d left without word and returned without word. The only man in the world who would have dared to do such a thing. He could leave now if he wanted and never return and it was painful for the god to realize that he did not want him to go. Out of all the mortals in the world, if pressed, there was only one he would keep.

He was a serpent and it was in his nature to choke, to poison, to coil but what was the point of something if it lived but was not alive? It was Domerin’s fire that had drawn him to the man. Now he was faced with Domerin either leaving him or staying but being gone in spirit. Which was worse?

There was so much to process, so much he’d never had to deal with before Domerin had come into his life. Through the tumult he formed new thoughts of his own, new assurances for himself. He could change this fate. He was a god, he had the power to do whatever he wanted. He could give Domerin what he desired, really desired, and he could keep the man with him like he wanted. It wasn’t weakness to walk into something knowingly, to chose, and knowing he would get what he wanted out of it too. In the end only Sesha and Domerin would know. Sesha could never tell anyone and for all the trouble he’d given him Domerin had at least never betrayed his secrets. For the first time he felt secure that he could give this part of himself and not worry about being devoured, about being weak. He felt sure he’d solved the riddle. He could do this.

What remained now was to call the man. For the first time in days the windows were opened, a bath was drawn, food was brought in, clothes were laid out. He would make himself up and call the man and tell him he would finally get what he wanted. Things would be different.