Under twin suns on the planet Maalstrom, Flores pursues his love Amina to the Island of the Sun-God, battling his way across a strange world, and returns at last to Ven to encounter further unfolding of the mysterious biological relationships that lurk beneath the surface of the alien planet. Sequel to IRSREM.
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Tumsenet was again overhead and spread His ghastly green over all. The constellation Barazaggar the Eunuch, the perfect image of God, hung above the battlements; its unclouded Eye, never-changing with the seasons, was bright. Other constellations could be seen: the Gila which portended autumn; the Rum of summer; the Maker of spring, though the meaning of the last had been lost in remote antiquity. And more constellations. All dense; all smeared; all difficult for the unpracticed eye to discern, wide-spread over an exaggerated expansive ecliptic. Ust shook off the spell. Ordering his companions with a word to watch--but see nothing--he hurried to the familiar wicket and scratched. In a moment the expected response came. He waited. He slipped inside.
A few minutes later Ust entered the room of candles. Their flickering light revealed no change from his previous visit. He gazed at the familiar table, dusty arras, the carven posts, soft bed. A sensation of actual pain stole over him. The pain was not physical or due to a sense of shame from his previous failures to satisfy his paramour, but was an expression of unutterable boredom. The offense that she had committed, the crime that in his private thoughts evoked his worst rages and contempt and remained forever unforgivable to him, even more than for the petty insults and the personal violations, and the lust, hatred, and envy that she had brought into his life--was her towering, inexpressible boredom. For boredom did he hate her. The thick-laden dust of the room, the lay of the lines on her face, the peremptory nature of her dull arrogant stare: the whole crushed his soul like a stone.
The handle turned and reluctantly, slowly, he restored the mask of nails.
The old woman entered, turned, and stood. Her eyes swept his form with unseemly ease. The downturned mouth turned what might have been a caress into an intolerable intrusion. It had not been meant as a caress, however.
"You crawling maggot. You mewling pathetic creature of a man!"
Flores had not long to wait. In the light of rushing moons that advertised his charms, one of the creatures flapped and lit before him. Around him rose sighs of ecstasy punctuated by trilling invitations from rival plant-men and Flores could well imagine, with the magic of the night in his eyes, and the exotic whispering in his ears, how this image of Atasan--the god of flesh and lust--might dovetail with his desires, answer his hidden longings, fulfill all his unspoken and unthought cravings. He had imagined he would be detached when it approached. Was concerned he would betray himself by a lack of interest. But now, with the Thing upon him, its sweet breath moistening red lips, its firm breasts swelling before his eyes, a slim hand raising its breechcloth while it delicately smiled, and lifted one leg to press its heel against the small of his back, now he found himself taut with energy, electrified, transported, struggling vainly to control his irrupting passion that surged with life and a power he had never known. His soul cried out to plunge his member into the womb of the selk and release his passion in a spasm of bliss...then his lifetime of Simet training asserted itself and--not without a whimper of protest--he suppressed it. Placing one arm around the creature's neck, he spun it around and clamped both his legs about its midriff. It jerked with fright. With Flores astride, it launched itself into the sky...