A speculative tale of shape-shifters, civil war, eroticism, and forbidden love.
Taste: An Erotic Fantasy Series, Book I
by B. Sharise Moore
Love is forbidden. Pleasure reigns.
Taste the fantasy.
On Ido, island of Sphinx people, cocooned cities, and Mer Ancestors, love and monogamy are strictly prohibited, physical pleasures abound, and a brewing civil war pits youth and virility against age and experience.
The Ido Youth seek the preservation of Taste, a set of carnal rites of passage beginning in the 21st year and ending with climax, Enlightenment, and Elderhood. Meanwhile, the Elders vow to obliterate the old traditions in favor of The One Faith, a religion of love, marriage, restraint, and discipline under the direction of a mysterious foreigner known simply as, The Guide.
At the center of the war is Onya, esteemed warrior and daughter of the shrewd Elder General Dame. Though dedicated to both Taste and tradition, she begins to question the very core of her beliefs when she falls in love with Quince, co-General of the Youth Cause. Together they must navigate otherworldly pleasures, the savagery of war, an intrusive religion, and their own forbidden love.
Incident in Vine City
It was early evening. The sunset wrapped its rays around a group of anxious women, their ebony, coffee, and chestnut hues blurred with the golden rays seeping through the translucent clouds above. Vine City, coveted for its unique beauty, brimmed with a mischievous allure while the waters of the Mer Sea lightly kissed the surrounding shore. From above, the small metropolis was a gathering of peaks stabbing unapologetically at the sky in declaration of its grandeur. The city's structures were sturdy and twisted like emerald webs forming triangular tents on the sand. The focus this evening; however, was the twenty-foot high canopy set closest to the sea enclosing one hundred male and female Youth inside.
Onya inhaled deeply before she and the others stepped onto an elevated platform beneath the canopy. The warmth of the sunlit planks beneath her feet triggered some calm amidst her pre-Rite jitters. She breathed out hard, her nerves like wet noodles sliding from a heaping spoon. Aware of the importance of first impressions, she pondered what awaited them on the opposite side of the large partition directly in front of her. The possibility of a thousand disapproving eyes, open and unimpressed flooded her mind. Tiny beads of perspiration gathered at her temples as she stood with the others, waiting for the vibrating gong that would determine the rest of their lives.
“Ready?” asked an upbeat voice at her side. “It’s now or never… and you know what they say,” the woman said with a playful nudge. “This is the hardest part anyway.”
“I hope so Lyn.” Onya sighed vehemently, raked her fingers through her shoulder length locs, and turned to face her longtime friend. “Before you know it, we’ll be Elders ourselves.”
“Yeah, but I plan on really enjoying the time leading up to that!” she responded slyly. Onya shook her head in agreement as her best friend added a facetious wink, tossed a few small, reddish brown braids over her bare shoulder, and adjusted her mask.
Lyn wasn't the only one looking forward to the onset of Taste, a cornerstone of Ido tradition for centuries, and here they were, teetering on the precipice of its arrival. Savoring the final moments of adolescence, Onya shut her eyes and allowed her memory to drift back to her upbringing in Nu.
The females and males were immediately separated after birth in preparation for the Mer to human transformation at age seven. Then, at opposite ends of the village, the Youth raised themselves. At age twenty-one, the sexes were intimately reintroduced during the sacred Warming Ceremony, a self-pleasuring Rite held two days before the sacred Rites of Taste.
It seemed it was only yesterday that she and her tandem of playmates had explored the endless beaches of coastline just outside the village. Stubborn shellfish, slippery emerald weeds, and the roaring surf had all been integral parts of their playground as the girls discovered the beauty of their surroundings. The corners of Onya's mouth upturned into a nostalgic smile as her memory jogged toward some of their interesting escapades on the outskirts of the dangerous jungles of Three Wood. Even then they had shown no fear. The daughter of one of the most prominent Ido Generals of all time, Onya had always been looked upon as a leader. Many assumed the trait had been embedded in her genes and it was certainly no surprise when she, along with close friends Eesha and Lyn, had been voted one of the three Generals of the female Youth. Together they formed a triad of feminine strength, cultivated intellect, and military expertise.
Like their male counterparts, the female Youth were trained in the Ido martial art of Bgongo as well as in the mastery of weaponry. The thick, solid muscles surrounded by less than twelve percent body fat were living proof of the grueling sessions she'd survived. Eyeno and Dame had been the Elder gurus in the martial arts back then and they'd trained the Youth well. The intermittent spells of guidance provided by the Enlightened Ones insured their self-sufficiency at an early age. Along with her Bgongo lessons, she briefly recalled the lectures introducing concepts of Enlightenment, Respect, and Mental Endurance afforded them by the Mer Ancestors and their visiting parents, now Elders residing in the Enlightened Lands. It was understood that Enlightenment was their ultimate goal, and Taste was the path they were required to travel in order to attain it.
Allowing the memories of her childhood to wash away, Onya breathed in deeply, glanced at her glistening mahogany skin one last time, and prepared for womanhood. Jaw set in a rigid line, she carefully gathered her fraying nerves and mentally stitched them into a solid seam. A shrill gong caused her pulse to quicken as she pulled a blue, beaded mask over her eyes. It was official. The ceremony had begun.
All at once, the drummers began a rich staccato. Obediently, the women’s hips swayed in unison with the djembe. One by one they snaked around the tall divider and into the open space on the platform. In no time, the looming spectators in their wake released a collective breath of approval. On cue, the rhythm accelerated as the women began a sensually charged dance. Their torsos and extremities dipped between the syllables of the drum effortlessly, sliding through each individual tone like a smooth word oozing from the tongue.
Aside from the custom-made turquoise and silver jewelry, intricately beaded masks, matching waist-beads, and assorted pairs of calf-high vine boots (heeled shoes made from intersecting patterns of dyed vine), the female Youth were completely naked, their exposed breasts gleaming with scented Raha oil, a sweet perfume extracted from the trees of Three Wood. Each woman wore their tresses in a single braid to the middle of the spine, partially covering the large ceremonial tattoo etched between her shoulder blades. Much of the ceremony’s allure involved pinpointing a potential preferred partner based upon the impressions given during the ceremony. Though the women made the final choice, it was an unspoken rule that the man they'd chosen would have to be in agreement.
Loose limbs displayed their flexibility, swinging, curling, and sashaying in time with the pulsing tune as the women swayed and looped their bodies in patient, fluid motions. As if under the influence of some preordained spell, the hands of time bent passively inside the canopy. Onya felt the moisture releasing gradually from her pores as her heartbeat became one with the seductive rhythm. The quickness of her pulse carried her on an excited whim as she wound around the perimeter of the stage, eyes closed. A dull crescendo guided them into a single line in front of their audience, a throng of Ido males totally nude aside from the ceremonial chains around their necks and a beaded cloth sac enclosing their genitals. Onya noted that most of the sacs were now nearly bursting at the seams. She smiled inwardly with smug approval and her own concentration quickly shifted to arousal as they approached the climactic finale.
Though nearly naked on an elevated platform in front of 50 pairs of eyes, Onya felt her inhibitions melting away like a single ice cube left in the blistering sunshine. Before her stood an endless field of broad shoulders, pulsing biceps, and glistening abdomens in every shade of brown imaginable. Warm rays of goldenrod and tangerine drenched their skin, causing hues ranging from hazelnut to midnight shimmer with a sun kissed sheen. It took everything in her not to stop short and gawk at the possibilities. Never before had she witnessed such unscathed beauty. Quietly, her eyes scoured the fine musculature and tapered waistlines seemingly sculpted from stone. Her nostrils flared gently as she attempted to inhale their collective strength through her nose, taste their anticipation on the tip of her tongue. Mesmerized, she wound her body in wide circles before lowering her gaze to the multitude of bulging silk sacs girding the males' heaving organs. The beat slowed simultaneously as they turned their backs to the audience, their round buttocks gleaming in the light of the setting sun. One by one, the women arched forward and stretched each hand to the platform below.
Looking through her open thighs into the crowd behind her, Onya slowly rose to her full height in time with the others. In unison, they turned their bodies forward, slowly, sensually. Falling to her knees, she caressed her thighs with intensity before lifting her fingers to the neatly trimmed V just below her waist beads. Careful to evoke the correct visual, the women threw their heads back as one. The djembes embraced a slow syncopation now as they parted their moistened lips, gently rubbing the enlarged center peeking through a delta of fertile ground.
Immediately, the males revealed rock hard shafts of all shades and sizes. Some stood erect at beautifully odd angles while others hung handsomely to mid-thigh. A minute few nearly kissed the knee. Instantly, they began stroking their hardened members in rhythmic time with the accompanying drums.
Enticed, the women responded accordingly. Onya drew her hands above her waist, locating a pair of erect nipples attached to a set of soft, small breasts. She held them delicately in her palms and caressed the stiff flesh in small semicircles while swinging her wide hips and ample buttocks boldly from side to side. Little by little, she felt a fierce confidence rising from within as she exhaled all that was feminine, sexy, and assertive.
Carefully she lifted her gaze and, within seconds, stood face to face with one of the most handsome men she’d ever seen. Her lashes fluttered as she attempted to mask her surprise. It was only a matter of time before the totality of his presence swallowed her whole. Mahogany skin reminiscent of royalty and stature set off perfectly sculpted features while a groomed mustache lined a set of full lips curved in an aroused smile. Glistening droplets of sweat gathered in the grooves of the eight ebony cinderblocks of his abdomen before sliding toward his narrow waist and thick, muscle-laden thighs. Noticing her sudden preoccupation, he paused and winked as a twinkle of interest glittered in the center of his deep brown eyes.
Tallish with short, dark hair thick with defining waves, the roiling fire in his gaze penetrated all of her defenses. The two exchanged an intense stare as he ran his tongue across his top lip with a deliberate passion. Onya felt her heartbeat skip when brazen desire spread through her like a red-hot combustible flame. With every fiber of her being, she wanted this man to want her. Never before had she witnessed such an epitome of perfection until now. In an instant, all thought evaporated into steam.
Careful not to lose her concentration, she held his piercing gaze as it saturated her thrusting hips while she pulsated in time with the hypnotic drumming. Moving as if she were in a trance-like state, she stretched her arms overhead and closed her eyes, an imprint of his profile tattooed beneath her eyelids. A broad smile spread slowly across his face. Overcome with awe, she wondered if she'd ever experience anything more pleasurable than this moment. Their eyes locked again as her wandering index finger traveled back to her enlarged bud. His eyes followed obediently as if he were willing, no, daring her to climax. After a slight quiver, a tiny moan of exhilaration escaped from her mouth as she prepared to explode.
“Stop! I said stop!”
The dancing and drumming came to an awkward, screeching halt. Arms flailed and legs landed awkwardly on the wooden planks while heads swiveled wildly in the direction of the commotion. A few feet from where she stood, a strange man climbed through the large, door-like opening in the canopy of vines. His appearance was unlike any she'd ever seen. A hooded cloak concealed his entire body aside from the tangled mane framing his thin face. Hastily, the women covered their nude bodies as the men formed a protective barrier around them. In surprised confusion, they turned their attention toward the prominent Ido Elder at the stranger's side. According to tradition, interrupting the Warming Ceremony was forbidden, and allowing a foreigner in their midst was an unforgivable abomination. An angry hush fell over the crowd as the Elder stepped forward. Onya looked on in absolute shock. The man venturing to the center of the crowd was Dame, the head of the Elder Ido Clan, and her father.