Mathieu had meant to be so very penitent.
Penitence brought one closer to God, and that was all Mathieu wanted; if not in this life, then in the next. So when his thoughts again became too much for him, he went down into the darkness of the crypt and prayed there on his knees, alone on the cold and rough stone.
He felt certain that no one went there except for him. The dust was always thick on the ground, and the air tasted stale in a way that was deeply comforting. Down in the crypt there was no light, no beauty, no living creature. No one except for the darkness and God to witness the sweet relief of sliding to his knees.
That night Mathieu went further into the crypt than he had ever gone before. He didn’t know why, except that the troubles of the parish and of the world were beginning to weigh ever heavier on him. Father Jean-Pierre called it hubris, whenever Mathieu tried to confide in him; Father Luc shook his head and called it naiveté. But Mathieu was a man of God, and he knew God was with him. It seemed to him that he should be able to bring his flock relief from that which pained them, to inspire them away from their sinful urges, to show them a path free of suffering.
Perhaps he was naïve, he thought, as he wandered deeper into dark corridors, an oil lantern his only company. But the world could be so very ugly. He had joined the church to spread a little beauty.
He had let his feet lead him, and found himself eventually in an old storeroom. Statuary had once been kept here, and then evidentially forgotten; the light of his lantern revealed a room crowded with the marble faces of angels and saints. The sight made Mathieu forget his own thoughts momentarily. It was a picture of a garden in Paradise, surely, and Mathieu moved through the statues in an ecstasy. He thought perhaps some of them were from even before the rule of the Dukes of Burgundy—back to the time of the prince-bishops themselves. Here was the Virgin, her hands upturned before her serene face; here was Holy Michel, with his fierce sword; here against the wall was Saint Hubert, his proud stag recumbent by his side.
Grand in the very center was the only statue to be covered by cloth. Someone had decided that this one was more important than the rest, and must be preserved against time.
Mathieu fell to his knees in front of it. If someone wiser and older than he had decided such a thing, he would not question it. He crossed himself and ran his hands over his rosary beads, beginning the old familiar prayer.
No sooner had he spoken the first word than the light in the lantern flickered, and died.
Mathieu stuttered into silence, his heart pounding against the dark. He would be lost down here forever, without his lamp to light the way; the turnings were endless and confusing. No one would even think to look for him down here, something that had always seemed like a solace before. He drew one breath, two. The dark was as heavy as a vestment against his shoulders.
He already felt the scream building up inside him when the lamp sprang back into life.
Light spread its wings over the room, illuminating once more the statues standing on every side of him, and the blank face of the statue covered by the dust-lined sheet. Mathieu first felt a surge of overwhelming relief, and then felt silly for panicking. The darkness had doubtless been a momentary flicker, nothing more.
He moved his fingers again along the rosary beads. The prayer filled his mouth, familiar from long use, yet still somehow as profound as the day his mother had taught it to him. He always felt lighter after he prayed, but tonight was something else. He felt his spirit rise up inside him as he prayed, as if it were untethered from his body and rising closer to heaven. Mathieu had never felt anything like this before. He had always tried his hardest to be a pious man and a good priest, but he knew very well that the joy and triumph filling his soul was not by some effort on his part. It was undoubtedly the hand of God, touching him and lifting him up. There was some holy presence in this room, holier even than the cathedral above it. Mathieu could feel it caressing his soul as he prayed.
Mathieu finished the prayer, reluctantly; he did not want to leave the holy presence. He was panting, sweat standing out on his shoulders. He lifted his eyes to find himself facing the covered statue.
That had to be it. That had to be it; there was some holy relic beneath the sheet, something touched by Christ or his angels. His fingers curled around the fabric, and then hesitated. Would he be blinded at the sight, like Paul, or immolated, like some pagan myth?
It didn’t matter. Even if only for a moment, he had to see. Mathieu pulled off the sheet.
The light shone on peerlessly sculpted marble; the face of the most beautiful of the angels, looking down on curved, sensitive hands, the smooth expanse of a muscular chest, and the curved ribbon of cloth draping sensually over the stone lap. But it was wrong, all wrong. Mathieu felt his heart nearly stop in horror.
The beautiful face was contorted into an expression too wicked for the angels, small horns sprouting from the luxurious curls of hair. The slim, long-fingered hands were clawed at their tips, and the exquisitely carved ankles were shackled to the rock he rested upon. Snakes crawled from beneath his feet. And from his back, encompassing and shadowing all the rest, vast and clawed wings sprouted and curved outwards, as if reaching towards Mathieu.
It was the Devil.
Mathieu spent the next day in a daze, hardly remembering to carry out his duties. He rose and knelt and stood and prayed by rote mechanical sequence. That evening he heard confession, but whether he absolved his sinners for murder or petty theft, he could not rightly say. As his mouth shaped the proper and familiar words, all he could think was, I prayed to the Devil.
No, he thought to himself firmly that night, shivering on his hard cot. He had directed his prayers to heaven; how was he to know a statue of the devil was there in the room with him, among all the statues of the holy?
Could the statue have—somehow—intercepted the prayer? Grasped at it with his clawed hands as it rose from his lips? No, that was ridiculous. And surely he was not guilty of worshipping false idols. He had not intended to, after all—
Mathieu curved around himself, feeling the heavy guilt in his stomach like an iron weight. He had done it, intention or not. He would have to shrive himself, to either Jean-Pierre or Luc or one of the others, would have to look in their eyes and know that they knew what evil he had done. He ought never have been ordained. Surely no truly holy man would have found himself in his position.
His fingers curled around themselves, indecisive. In ordinary circumstances he would pray, but the thought of praying now and finding himself unable to recapture that soaring, holy feeling left him numb. Yet—
Mathieu sat up in bed. What if—what if the idol had not been false? Then there could not have been a sin committed. If the statue was not of the devil after all—or perhaps, it held only the outside appearance of one, to conceal the holy relic surely hidden within. Nothing else could have produced that impossibly spiritual sensation. He was certain of it.
He hesitated no more. Waiting only to stuff himself back into his cassock, he lifted his lantern and hurried out into the corridor.
The old storeroom was found again without difficulty. It was, to Mathieu’s faint surprise, exactly as he had left it when he fled it last night; he had half-imagined that the statues would rearrange themselves while he was gone. But no; the angels and saints were as he remembered. So, too, was the devil.
It was posed languidly on his carved rock, as beautiful as he had been the night before. This time, Mathieu was able to notice the things that had escaped him in his panic last night. The delicate tracery indicating the tendons of his neck. The fine line of the collarbone, rising so smoothly from the hollow of his throat that Mathieu could almost believe that there was real bone beneath the marble flesh. The ripple of muscles in his strong arms, his bare chest. Mathieu had never seen such perfection in a man, and he could feel his eyes wander in awe. He reached out to touch the smooth perfection of his cheek.
His fingers landed before he could think better of it, but the statue’s skin was only stone, after all. He exhaled in relief, and then laughed at himself. Coming here in person had only reinforced the conclusion he had already reached. Something as beautiful as this could not hurt him. Someone had put a fearsome visage on this statue, undoubtedly to disguise a relic of great power and value, but they could not disguise the essential goodness of what was inside. No doubt these wings, so like a bat or a dragon, had once been the wings of an angel, and the contorted face had once been smiling. Mathieu ran his fingers over the marble cheek again, marveling at the workmanship. It was already warming from his hand.
When he prayed, that night, in front of the beautiful statue in disguise as a devil, he felt all the troubles and cares of the world fly away from him, to be replaced by sheer trumpeting joy. It was a hot, swirling ecstasy that ran through his entire body and left him panting, shivering, wanting to shout with the pleasure of it. Mathieu had never felt this before, as if his very soul was singing, like the glory of the martyrs before death, like the triumph of Mary as her holy son was put into her womb. He managed, with enormous effort, to finish the last of his prayer. Then he slumped over onto the cold stone, breathing hard. There could be no doubt in him at all. This statue, hidden away in the depths of the crypt below the cathedral, was more holy than all the finger-bones of all the saints Mathieu had ever witnessed. Through his intercession Mathieu was brought closer to God.
Through fatigued, drooping eyelids, Mathieu could see the beautiful face of the statue. In the light from his lantern, the shadows of that statue’s horns and wings cast enormous and black on the wall behind, but Mathieu had no attention to pay to that.
Thank you, he thought at it fiercely. Thank you.
From Mathieu’s vantage point on the ground, with the lantern-light playing subtle tricks on his face, the statue almost did look as if it were smiling.
There was no question of not going back. The next day, Mathieu felt poorly. It seemed as if all the heaviness of his thoughts were back, when he could not pray to the statue. Every sin heard in confession, every tale carried in through the church doors of the troubles of the outside world, seemed to weigh on his soul like a punishment. He could not shake them.
But Mathieu could not be entirely unhappy. He knew he had only to go to the statue and be relieved. It was a secret balm to his heart; tomorrow night, he resolved, he would walk down into the crypt and pray, and all his troubles would slip away from him. Tonight, however, he would sleep. He had been down in the crypt the last two nights in a row, and had only been able to catch up on his sleep in fits and starts. His duties demanded greater attention from him, and for that, he needed to rest.
That was Mathieu’s intention, in any case, when he laid down on his cot.
What the statue had in mind for him was entirely different. Mathieu slipped into the dream as soon as his head was down on the pillow, and woke just as easily when it was over, his blood pulsing with so much energy and purpose that it hardly mattered that it was very dark of the night. He knew what he had to do. The statue had told him.
It took Mathieu only a moment to gather what he needed before he was flying down the stairs to the statue. He arranged himself on his knees before the statue, the beautiful false devil, and closed his eyes. His rosary beads in his hand, he prayed.
Once again, that ecstatic soaring joy threatened to make him lose his senses, his spirit flying like some bird, every word bringing him ever closer to heaven.
The prayer ended, of course, as it had to end. Mathieu found that he was only sorry for a moment. He was too eager to see what he had been promised in his dream. With one hand he took up the knife the altar boys used to trim the candles. He held the other up so the statue could see it. Slowly he drew the sharp edge of the knife in a straight line across his palm.
Blood welled up in its wake. Trying not to tremble with his excitement, Mathieu rubbed his hands together until both were well and truly covered in blood. He lowered his hands to the statue’s feet and began to wash them. Red blood, lurid even by the lantern’s warm glow, washed over the pale marble and swallowed it like the dark overtaking the moon. In a matter of moments the feet of the statue were covered, as drenched in his blood as if he had walked barefoot across a battlefield. Mathieu ran his hands over every inch of the marble, reverent; touching the craftsmanship, he could feel for himself how perfectly the stone had been cut. The shape of the feet were without flaw, more human than human, as if it were modeled on the first ever made by God. The stone was made warm by his blood, and Mathieu could easily pretend that these were the feet of some holy penitent, an angel disguised as a beggar on the road, ready to make him into a saint.
In his dream, he had washed the statue’s feet with his blood. The stone had crumbled and cracked away like an eggshell, and a wondrous angel had sprung out, free from its prison. It had wrapped his hands around Mathieu’s shoulders and flown him all over Liège, the city and the river sprawled out tiny and glistening below him. From his vantage point in the sky, the parish was like a porcelain miniature, ready to be painted and gilded into perfection.
What happened in the waking darkness of the crypt was that the marble grew warm under Mathieu’s hands, warmer than skin, warmer than blood, and then, suddenly, it was burning hot. Mathieu snatched his hands away with a yelp, blowing on them frantically. The cut across his palm was a red line of fire, paralyzing him. Agony ran up and down his arm in hot waves, searing down through muscle and fat, down to his very bone.
Without knowing it he had crumpled to the floor, his breath coming heavy in his ears. He sounded like a panicked animal. Mathieu could barely see through the pain.
Then, just as the agony reached its peak, it disappeared. In the sudden absence of pain, Mathieu was wide-awake and aware. The unmistakable sound of stone brushing against stone filled the empty room.
Mathieu scrambled up. He raised his hands to his eyes to brush the lingering tears away, impatiently; forgetting that his hands were still covered in blood. He raised the sleeve of his cassock, but before he could clean his fingers, other hands were pressing carefully against his eyes, wiping away the blood.
Stone hands. Stone fingers, smooth and perfect, as if sculpted by the angels.
Mathieu opened his eyes.
The statue was standing before him, marble eyes looking directly and unmistakably at him. It was unquestionably a miracle, but Mathieu found himself instead noticing the size and height of him. When the statue had been seated, Mathieu had been able to look each other it in the eyes, but standing, the statue towered over him. Mathieu was not a short man, and he had not felt so dwarfed in a long time. The unaccustomed feeling made his heart pound uneasily in his chest.
Mathieu looked up, over the statue’s head where satyr’s horns still stood proud, into the darkness behind, where vast wings stretched and curled, as if restless. The wings of a bat, or a dragon.
In his dream they had been the feathery pinions of a dove. Mathieu looked back at the statue’s face. The expression it held was as wicked as he had first seen it, but where it had once been carved in lines of rage and despair, now it held only triumph. Horror drained into his blood, settled coldly into his stomach.
“You—you were s-supposed to be an angel,” stammered Mathieu.
The statue parted his lush, full lips, revealing a mouth full of fangs. He laughed like the opening gates of hell.
“I was,” he said only, and then he threw Mathieu with crushing force against the ground.
The impact knocked the wind out of Mathieu. In the moment it took him to recover his senses, the devil was upon him. He was straddled on either side by massive stone knees, the wickedly grinning face seeming miles above him. Strong hands gripped his wrists and forced them together above his head so that the devil could hold both of them casually in one fist, despite how he struggled to pull his arms free. Mathieu had never felt so weak, as if there was no power in him at all, as if the strength of his body was inconsequential, nothing. The devil seemed to take no notice of his struggles at all, except to admire them. He raised Mathieu’s wrists higher in the air, to better take in the view. Mathieu could do nothing at all except hang there from his grip, fighting feebly to get free.
He panted and gasped for air, twisting and turning his shoulders and straining all his muscles to the limit against the unyielding grip until he was spent. Mathieu finally hung slack, like a slaughtered pig from his hocks. His eyes fell downward in shame, but there was nothing to see except for his own body, still straddled by the devil’s marble thighs. A ribbon of stone cloth still preserved the devil’s modesty. But as Mathieu watched with horrified eyes, the cloth began to unravel and fall.
Mathieu whimpered. He could not help it. The devil’s cock was like nothing Mathieu had ever seen, enormous and throbbing, easily twice the size of that of any man. It was ridged, ever so slightly, along its length. Mathieu could not tear his eyes away from it, despite the horrible fear that gripped him at the sight.
The devil laughed again.
“Yes, little priest,” he said mockingly. “See what you should have been worshipping all along.” His free hand ripped at Mathieu’s cassock, and it tore off his body without resistance, yielding to the devil’s unspeakable strength. He was suddenly naked and helpless before the enemy. He struggled again, wishing only to turn away, to curl in on himself, but the hand that held him was as absolute as iron.
The devil was shifting himself now, placing both knees between Mathieu’s legs. He flailed his legs wildly, with more panic driving his actions than purpose. His knee struck the devil’s side, hard, and Mathieu yelped in pain. The blow would have knocked all the air out of a man, but the devil was made of stone, not flesh. Mathieu whimpered in pain, seeing stars explode before his eyes. For a moment he lay still, winded and in pain, almost beyond caring that the devil was now handling him like a ragdoll, dragging his hips up.
The first touch of pressure at his ass startled him back to life.
“No,” he whispered, too shocked to draw any breath to say it louder. “Please, no—” Not his chastity, which was promised to God. Tears ran down his face. “I beg you, please, torture me, tempt me, anything but this, have mercy—”
For a moment the devil looked down at him, pausing, and Mathieu dared to hope. Then, in the next second, the devil thrust all the way inside him in one savage movement.
A scream tore from Mathieu’s throat. He was being ripped apart, split down the middle with pain. It was—it was too big, far too big. Surely God did not make the human body to endure this. He was stretched thin around the monstrous intrusion inside his body. His insides were clenching down on it, trying to force it out. Pain had blotted his vision into a field of white stars.
He screamed on and on, but his pain did not abate. At last he was reduced to weak, raw sobbing that did nothing to soothe him. It was then that the devil moved again, shifting his hips back and bringing on a fresh wave of pain. Mathieu screamed again, but the sound was hoarse and faint. Before he could recover himself, the devil thrust in again, hard. Mathieu felt hard stone flush against his ass, cold against his skin.
“Torture you? Tempt you? No, little priest,” said the devil. “This is my mercy.”
For a moment the pain threatened to let him lose consciousness, and Mathieu prayed that it would happen quickly. But his body would not let his mind go, and he felt every movement the devil made. Every thrust and drag, again and again and again. On the third thrust, something inside of him tore open and bled, and the blood made it easier, smoother, until the violating, painful slide of the devil’s cock inside him was almost frictionless. Above him, the devil was smiling, a hideous sight that twisted that still-beautiful face. Mathieu’s arms sagged where the devil held his wrists high in the air, his hands gone numb and bloodless. The devil’s other hand curled painfully around his hip, holding him still as he thrust faster and faster into Mathieu, as if Mathieu was nothing more than a toy. His legs gaped and flopped with each thrust, boneless.
After a while he could not scream any more. His throat was scraped and empty. What came out of his mouth instead sounded disturbingly like moans. But Mathieu felt no pleasure; no pleasure at all. It was some trick of the devil that made him constantly aware of the hot needy place inside him that sent a shocking line of pleasure throughout his body when the devil’s cock shifted against it, some evil illusion that made his horrified eyes see his own cock rise from between his legs and begin leaking.
The devil laughed at the sight, letting go of Mathieu’s hands and shaking back his curls of hair. Mathieu immediately pressed his hands to the floor, scrambling against it with fingernails still crusted with blood, but the devil barely seemed to notice his feeble struggling. He rammed into Mathieu’s throbbing, abused body at even greater speed, until the line of pleasure inside him because a river, wild and strong, that Mathieu could no longer deny. It was too much for him. Tears ran freely down his cheeks, taking away some of the blood that remained there.
“No,” he said hoarsely, almost whimpering the word. “No, no, no—”
He should have known better by now than to beg the devil for mercy. The devil smiled without teeth, showing the angelic face that had fooled Mathieu before, letting Mathieu’s unwilling gaze run down the exquisite line of his neck, the carved perfection of his chest. Mathieu gasped, shakily, and came.
His hips twitched upwards as if to thrust themselves into the air, but Mathieu was caught on the devil’s hard, unmoving cock, and he cried out in pain. He could hardly see for crying. He was grateful for the pain, now that he knew that there could be pleasure, too, that the devil could bring a man of God to soil himself below His own church.
Mathieu lay carefully still, his come cooling on his own chest, and pretended that he was dead. Overhead he could hear the devil’s low rumble of triumph, and a small dull noise, as if a small stone had fallen and clattered onto the ground. Now that the pleasure was gone, he was agonizingly aware of being impaled. He could feel the devil’s cock pressing against the very wall of his stomach.
“A fine tribute,” said the devil. “But there are hours left to dawn yet. Shall we try for more?”
The words had barely begun to make sense in Mathieu’s mind before stone hands picked him up and spun him around, his body being twisted around the axis of the enormous cock still buried inside him. He was face-down now, on his hands and knees, and then the devil stood upright. Mathieu whimpered as he was lifted up, supported by nothing more than the devil’s cock. His hands and feet no longer touched the ground. Stone hands wrapped around his hips, unmovably firm, and began to pump him up and down the length of his shaft, like a man would pump his fist. Mathieu felt like a puppet, a doll, his arms and legs swinging wildly with each forced movement until Mathieu had to tuck them in closer to his body, like a beetle.
The change in his posture seemed to please the devil, who made a low, pleased noise and pumped Mathieu’s body faster up and down his cock. The humiliation burned in his chest.
He lost count of the hours that the devil fucked him for. It seemed to go on forever, an endless cycle of pain and violation and pleasure. The oil lantern had guttered out as some point, casting him into the endless darkness. There was nothing else but the devil’s hands and the devil’s cock, and the ragged, thin sound of his own moaning.
He came twice more in the dark, the devil laughing triumphantly whenever he did. Mathieu was beginning to hate that sound, as he hated his own wretched body. The devil was planting sin deep inside him with every thrust of that enormous stone cock, he was sure of it. It felt as if the hot greedy place inside him had expanded, growing so sensitive that every new drag and thrust made Mathieu bite back pleasure. Every inch of his skin was prickling and hot. The cool stone skin of the devil’s hand was almost a welcome relief as it travelled down Mathieu’s body. It ran up his ribs, and the sensation was too good, oh God, too good—
Father forgive me I—I—I—
He couldn’t harness the thought together. The hand reached one of Mathieu’s nipples and twisted it painfully. Mathieu cried out as the pain raced down his body like lightning and went straight to his cock. The stone hand roved across his chest, spanning it easily, and twisted the other. A delicious shock of pain ignited his body, and he moaned outright, forgetting himself.
He came with shocking force, his entire body clamping down around the sensation. The feeling of the stone cock, rigid inside his hot tight body, only made him moan more, clench tighter. The devil made a sound like a purr, and with one final thrust, came inside of Mathieu.
The devil’s seed was as cold as ice, and the feeling robbed all pleasure from Mathieu. He sobbed as the devil pulled out of him, removing his cock with a disturbingly slick, sucking sound, as if his body wanted to keep him inside. The devil dropped him to the ground, and he sprawled there, curling around himself. He could feel the empty space where the devil’s cock had been. His body held around it, remembering the shape. He felt as if something had been opened inside of him, something that could not easily be closed again.
Mathieu tried to move, and found that his legs were weak and trembling. He gathered himself, panting, and tried again.
This time he managed to draw himself onto his knees. The movement shifted the devil’s cold seed, still deep inside him, and it gushed out of his open, gaping hole, splashing over his buttocks and legs. Mathieu froze at this final humiliation. Shivering, he forced himself onto his feet, his legs wobbling like a newborn deer.
There was a snapping sound in the darkness, and the lantern flickered back into life. Hellfire lingered a moment more on the devil’s fingers, reflecting on the perfect arc of his forehead, the classical bridge of his nose.
Mathieu didn’t want to look at his beauty, but he could not help it. There was something about the exquisitely carved marble that held his gaze, even now. Especially now—it was as if the evil within had only heightened the beauty without. The creature was as sublime as any of the angels. The lantern-light lavished attention on the supple, strong frame, painting him in gold, running glossy strands of light over the cock, still slick with seed and Mathieu’s blood. There was almost beauty in that, even, something that made Mathieu lick his lips—
He tore his gaze downwards, until he was only looking at the devil’s feet. The feet he had washed with his own blood, in some mockery of mandatum, and awakened the devil. They, too, were horrifyingly perfect, even covered in Mathieu’s blood.
The shackles around the devil’s ankles were attached to what Mathieu had first thought were a single, enormous chain. But now he saw he had been mistaken. The single chain was a rope, made of many small chains all braided together. Mathieu could not count them all, but he could see clearly that some of them were broken. They were easier to count. Four.
He had come four times. Four chains were broken.
The devil let him stare his fill. When Mathieu was at last able to look away, the devil took a step back to his seat, taking the languid pose Mathieu had first seen him in. He smiled his cruel, beautiful smile.
“You will return to me soon, my little priest,” he said, and Mathieu fled, taking only the hellfire lantern to light his way.
Dawn was peeking out through the windows when Mathieu stumbled back into his room. How he had managed to escape being seen, naked and covered in blood and come as he was, he did not know. He used the basin under his high window to clean himself off as best as he could and climbed shivering beneath the sheets.
Father Luc looked in on him, when Mathieu did not appear for morning prayers, and promptly excused him from his duties for the day. He must have appeared truly wretched, even without the blood. Mathieu could not summon enough emotion to feel gratitude. Heaviness was already gathering in his soul.
By afternoon it was an almost tangible pain in his chest. Mathieu knew what this was now. He was permanently cured of his naiveté. It wasn’t the heaviness of the sins of the world, or whatever else he had thought. It was the devil’s curse, and it was his obligation, more now than ever, to fight it.
He was on his knees by the cot for the rest of the day, praying for strength and salvation. But the prayers felt oddly hollow, now that he knew what they could feel like. And the weight on his soul only grew as the day grew longer, dragging his thoughts downward, to that dark storeroom. By sundown, Mathieu knew that he would not be able to resist. He could only prepare himself.
Mathieu wrapped as many crucifixes around his neck as his chest could hold, and loaded his wrists down his rosaries. He tiptoed to the font where the holy water was kept, ignoring the guilty twinge in his chest as he filled two vials and slipped one into each of his sleeves. Then, at last, he went down to the crypt to pray. The devil was as still as if it were only a statue, ensconced in the circle of his great wings. It watched Mathieu enter with unblinking, unmoving eyes. Mathieu tried and failed to ignore it.
The tension in his chest eased almost as soon as he dropped to his knees before the statue, and the prayer carried his soul into heights of spiritual joy that Mathieu had never attained on his own. It made him feel sick, nauseated, to know that this feeling was caused by the devil, but Mathieu could not help needing it. And there was a small part of him that wondered if this was, still, somehow, part of God’s mercy…
When he was lying on the floor, panting and shivering from the ecstasy of the prayer, the devil finally moved. He knelt over Mathieu, gripping his knees beneath the cassock, and spread them firmly apart. Mathieu twisted, struggled; he clutched at the crosses at his neck and tried to begin a prayer. It was as if they had all evaporated from his mind.
The devil paused, looking at him.
“And what is this?” A stone hand closed around his collar, dragged downwards, revealing the crosses on his chest. The vials of holy water fell out of his sleeves and clinked against the floor. The devil laughed.
“Holy water? Crosses? These trinkets would never have saved you.” He laughed again, leaning in closer. Mathieu could feel the hot breath tickle the sensitive skin of his ear. “There’s only one thing that could have saved you,” whispered the devil. “If only, Mathieu…if only you had enough faith.”
Mathieu went stiff with shock, shame bubbling up deep inside of him and permeating along his bones. It was the confirmation of what he had suspected all along, that this evil was happening to him because of his failures, his lack of faith. If he had only been strong enough in the Lord…
The devil was taking the rosaries off his wrist, now, giving no sign that they affected him in the least. The holy water, thought Mathieu desperately. His hand inched towards it. It had been blessed by the bishop himself; it had to have some effect—
The devil gripped his wrist. Mathieu sobbed in frustration as his hand was dragged back from the vial, and then only watched in horror as the devil grabbed it himself. The holy water began to bubble in his hand, but the bubbles were oddly slow, thick, as if the liquid had become unctuous. But that was impossible, Mathieu had stoppered the vial himself—it had been holy water, he was sure of it. The devil smiled as if he knew Mathieu’s thoughts. With casual strength he flipped Mathieu over, so that he was face-down on the floor. His robe fell down around his shoulders, leaving his legs and ass shamefully bare. Behind him he could hear the stopper of the vial coming off.
Burn him, he thought desperately. Burn him, destroy him, please, save me…
Then he felt cold smooth fingers dipping into his hole, still gaping and loose from the night before.
Three fingers, stretching him out painfully. But they were coated in some kind of oil, to make them slick. They slid in more easily than Mathieu could have thought possible. It felt better than Mathieu could have thought possible, and Mathieu bit his lip hard to suppress the hard knot of lust in his belly. But the fingers were stabbing at that pleasure spot inside him, and the oil was so smooth and frictionless it was like flying—the oil—it was—
“The holy water,” he gasped. “Oh, God! What have you done to it?”
The devil did not change the fast relentless rhythm of his fingers.
“Oh, little priest. I merely transformed it to better serve my needs. Why are you so alarmed? The same thing will happen to you, after all.”
Mathieu tried not to moan, but it came out of his mouth nonetheless, shameless, wanton. He could not help it. The fingers felt so good inside him, pressing against him, spreading him out. His hips made abortive little jerks back towards the pressure. His cock was painfully stiff, leaking all over his belly. It was all Mathieu could do not to wrap his hands around it.
“You see? It’s already begun,” noted the devil. He hooked his fingers inside Mathieu and pulled, dragging his fingertips deliciously down Mathieu’s insides. His cock spurted instantly, white stripes of his own come painting the fabric of his robe, his chin, his lips. Mathieu pressed his face to the ground, imagined it opening up below him and taking him into the earth. He was so ashamed.
The devil slid his fingers out, and Mathieu could only lie on the floor and wait for the next torture. He had been so foolish to think that he could outmaneuver the devil with some priestly trappings. He might have once aspired to be a man of God, but God had clearly never been with him, and perhaps had never been.
At the edge of his vision, he saw the rosary beads lift off the floor. A moment later he felt the tip of the devil’s cock pressing against his open, abused hole. The devil’s forearm came around and wrapped around his ribs, manhandling him into a more convenient position. The possibility of resisting didn’t even cross his mind. There could be nothing else on his body or soul to violate. All the harm that could be done to him had already been done.
Then the devil pushed in, and Mathieu realized that he had been terribly wrong. The cock that slid into him was studded with small rounded protrusions that pressed into him in agonizingly pleasurable ways. At first Mathieu thought the devil must have changed his form somehow—but he could feel the beads shifting between his insides and the cock. The devil was defiling him with his own rosary beads. Mathieu screamed and sobbed against the ground as the beads pushed against that sensitive spot inside him, again and again and again. The desecrated holy water had been everything inside him slick and smooth, but the pain was nearly as excruciating as before. The simple girth and length of the thing inside him was stretching him out in ways that humans were never meant to be stretched. He did not understand how his mere human frame could have survived his first night. Perhaps he would not survive a second.
He held on to that thought as the devil rutted into him like a bull, unendingly. Whatever the holy water had changed into had also made him sensitive. Almost every movement made him shudder and gasp against the devil’s strong arm. Before he knew it he had come, and come again.
Three more chains broken, now.
Mathieu gave up. His head fell dully towards the floor, defeated. He let the devil have his way with his body as if he was nothing more than the devil’s living toy. He stopped counting how many more times the devil wrung a painful orgasm from his exhausted body, stopped trying to prevent them from ripping through him. He finally understood his purpose. He was there to be used by this monstrosity, this devil in a beautiful disguise, and he could do nothing to stop it.
By the time the devil had poured his cold seed into his body, Mathieu was limp with pain, his hole so numb and abused that he could not feel his legs. He felt for it, gingerly, and found that it would not close.
He wept there on the floor for a while, waiting for the strength in his legs to return. When it became clear that it would not, he crawled out of the room, out from among the statues of the blessed, on his knees and one hand, holding the hellfire before him.
Mathieu spent the next day in his bed, eating and drinking little. His fellows were under the impression that he was stricken by some terrible illness, and solicitously gave him the comfort of solitude. They assumed that he would wish to be alone to pray, as they would. Mathieu wished grimly that he could.
They were not far wrong in one aspect. He did feel sick. His head swam, and his eyelids prickled; his skin itched and chafed as if he were wearing a hair shirt, and his joints ached. His stomach was a hard cold knot in his chest, and his heart was on fire; a heat that Mathieu could feel palpably through his chest. These symptoms would go away in the night, he knew, as soon as he fell to his knees before the devil again. His throat was also a scratched and raw ruin, but there was no cure the devil could provide for that.
Mathieu had one more plan for tonight. He had learned his lesson. His own powers, he could not rely on. He was weak, as a man and as a priest. So he would try to turn the weakness of his body into a shield. When he was sure that all were at vespers, he stole out of his room and took as many bottles of the sacramental wine as he could hold.
If this didn’t work, he would tell the others. He would tell them everything, and then surely they would know what to do.
He drank two of the bottles as quickly as he could, before he could think about it, and then drank a little more slowly out of a third. He rarely had anything to drink at all, outside of a sip at Eucharist and of course the monastic beer at supper, so he could already feel the effects at work. It was a strong vintage. Mathieu had barely managed to finish a third, and was forcing himself to begin on a fourth when he found himself unable to sit upright any longer.
He managed to set the bottle on the floor before collapsing into the cot. The ceiling was swimming, but he felt a vague sense of victory. If he managed to remain insensible every night until dawn, he could remain safe. He went to sleep smiling.
Mathieu came to himself slowly, groggily. He was moaning—why was he moaning? All his thoughts seemed to come to him through a sieve. He only knew that it felt good, so good, and his hips were moving, rutting, his hand fisted tightly around his cock and moving up and down in sloppy counterpoint to his hips.
His legs were spread, his tongue lolling out, the hand not around his cock grasping at a curved horn rising from a head of luxurious hair, and the noises coming out of his mouth would have put to shame the most wanton whore that ever walked the streets. And he was—he was sitting, impaled on the devil’s cock, nestled into the devil’s marble lap, fucking himself frenziedly.
Mathieu’s hips stuttered to a halt as he realized what his body was doing, but it was too late. He came messily over his hand, spilling onto his own naked lap. He could see from the evidence that it was not the first time tonight, either. He took a horrified glance down at the devil’s ankles; there were noticeably fewer chains holding the devil in his place.
The devil lolled back lazily.
“Suddenly so shy, priest? My, but you were so enthusiastic just a moment ago. Maybe your body knows what it wants better than you do.”
Mathieu shook his head furiously. His tongue felt swollen and dry, bereft of words.
“You deny it! Bold, to try to deceive the Great Deceiver. Little priest...your body wants this. See how easily I can bend it to my will…” He grinned wickedly down at Mathieu, a hideous maw full of fangs. His cock pulsed inside of Mathieu, and he squirmed with want. His body was weak, his cock already hard again and dripping. When it became clear that the devil wasn’t going to move, Mathieu did.
Not away. Towards. He rocked his hips clumsily back and forth, seeking that priceless sensation of pleasure. The devil’s cock felt exactly the right size inside him, as if his body had been shaped to accommodate it. All the nerves in his body seemed to wrap around it, sending pain and pleasure, excruciating in equal measure, in a direct line to his cock. Mathieu shuddered for breath. It was—so big. It filled him as he had never been filled. He hungered for every inch.
He was weeping, hiccupping on his own tears. But he could not stop. He could not stop. He bounced up and down, desperately chasing the next orgasm, and the next. It felt so good. He would never have known that something that felt like this could be so unholy, except for the pain. He moaned with pleasure and felt shame drive a spike through his heart. He knew now that he could never tell a soul of his sin. He could never unburden the shame of this, of rutting himself on the devil’s cock like a common whore.
When his merely human endurance ran out, the devil laid him on the floor and forced more out of him. His cock was sore beyond belief, his balls surely empty, but still the devil rammed into him, faster, harder, forcing his cock to rise again and again and again.
He could only weep. The devil reached out an oddly gentle hand and touched them, as if curious.
“Someday, little priest, you will look back and know these to be tears of joy,” he said, in his beautiful, awful voice.
And soon there were no tears left. Only the relentless drive of his own body to be filled and defiled. He crawled away just before morning. He knew he would be back that night.
At some point it was no longer horrifying.
Mathieu went about his duties during the day, and went down to the crypt at night. He no longer dispensed with the pretense of prayer. He let the devil fornicate with him, bend him over, lift him up and drag him around; once, even, letting himself be fucked against the statue of Holy Michel, so that his come had desecrated the face of the angel. Every night, his thighs were slick with the devil’s cold seed. Every night, he allowed the devil to come a little closer to freedom.
He knelt in the pews. He pretended to pray. He went to confession and let himself ramble about petty sins, never letting himself say anything of truth. Once he even confessed to Father Luc of lustful thoughts, describing how he had dreamt of men with enormous cocks fornicating with him in public, in the bell tower, even in this very confession booth, and had the strange satisfaction of seeing Luc go white at dinner, and be unable to look him in the face. He had been right not to tell the others of his nightly suffering. They could do nothing, and could never understand his shame. His only comfort was that when the last chain was broken, and there was no more need for his body, the devil would surely kill him.
And that could not be long now. The devil was down to his last handful of chains. Perhaps it would even happen tonight. Mathieu felt a strange quickening in his cock at that thought, and found that he could not wait for night to fall.
He was wrong. It was not that night, despite the devil’s best efforts. The devil was so frenzied for his freedom that he was still fucking into Mathieu when morning came.
Mathieu had never considered what happened to the devil when the sun rose. But as, high above, he heard the faint ringing of the dawn bell, the devil slowed and stopped moving. He was halfway through the act of raising Mathieu’s body up in order to slam him down again; he never finished the motion. Like the marble he was carved from, there was no life or movement left in him. It took Mathieu a moment to understand what had happened.
The stone hands pinned him in place, and the stone cock inside him held him rigid. It would be futile to try and get free. There wasn’t enough room for him to lever his hips back and please himself properly. Even Mathieu’s hands were pinned in place. He had been so close, too…
Once the thought would have shamed him. Now he only sighed.
Perhaps Mathieu ought to have been grateful that his ultimate fate was delayed another day. Wishing for death was too close to mortal sin for comfort, and wasn’t it funny that he could still care whether he committed mortal sin or not? But he must, somewhere inside, or else he would have done it long ago.
Mathieu tried to sleep. He no longer needed to, but there were hours left to go before the dusk, and it would perhaps be the last chance he had to sleep before the final rest. But he could not get comfortable. His arms and legs were at absurd angles; his arms trapped behind his back, his legs dangling like those of a crab picked up by its shell.
Most of all, though, the devil had frozen with the tip of his cock pressing directly against the most sensitive part of him. It was enough to keep Mathieu’s cock hard and leaking, but not enough to let him come. Mathieu made a frustrated noise. It echoed back to him, and then, suddenly, there were sounds in the distance.
Someone else was down in the crypt. Multiple people, calling out to each other as they went, making a vast noise of bustle and commotion.
Of course. It was daylight in the world above. Mathieu would have been missed, and then discovered not to be in his room, or any of his normal haunts. There were people in the world above that would notice if he was gone, or dead. People who cared for him, that wished him nothing but health and beautiful sights. Mathieu felt like a dreamer that had been abruptly woken up.
He could hear his own name in the distance, and getting louder.
“Mathieu! Mathieu! Are you down here?”
He opened his mouth to shout back, but the words strangled themselves in his throat. What was his plan, to call out and let himself be discovered? Mathieu made himself picture it in his head; Henri and Jean-Pierre and who knew who else charging into the storeroom of statuary, their glad faces turning into shock and horror as they discovered the unnatural position Mathieu was in. Would anyone believe that the statue had come to life as the devil and Mathieu into this pose? Then, believing that, would anyone swallow that Mathieu had not been a willing subject to it when he had been found naked, slick with his own ejaculate, and his cock as hard as the statue that impaled him?
They would have to take the statue to pieces around him to get it out. They would ask him for explanations, but would never understand what he had to say…
Mathieu held his silence. Voices and footsteps came to a halt nearby.
“I could swear I heard something this way…”
“There’s nothing but old storerooms, Father. No one’s been back here in centuries. Mathieu’s a smart lad—Father Mathieu, I mean—he wouldn’t have gone down this way. No reason he would have been in the crypt at all.”
Mathieu held his tongue, and they soon departed.
The searchers did not come to the crypt again. Night fell, instead, and the devil came to life.
It was as if there was no pause between one moment and the next. The devil roared out, finishing the motion he had been caught in, and slammed Mathieu so hard down on his cock that his vision went white.
Mathieu, who had been painfully hard with expectation all day, came instantly, explosively. The last chain that held back the devil snapped.
Without ceremony, the devil allowed Mathieu to slide off his cock and onto the floor. Mathieu closed his eyes and waited. He could hear the devil breathing behind him, his wings flexing. He came near him. Mathieu tensed despite himself.
“Get up,” said the devil.
Mathieu got up. The devil looked no different. He was still beauty incarnate, perfect in his proportions and looks. His skin still held the warm gleam of marble, and not the dull luster of flesh. He was heart-stoppingly exquisite, his head held high and tilted towards the ceiling.
“Yes,” he murmured. “The bells chime for me, calling my faithful in…”
He strode from the room. Mathieu followed as if pulled along on a string.
Mathieu could indeed hear bells, far overhead, although it must have been too late for vespers. And these were no church bells, whose voices he all knew by heart. These bells echoed strangely, as if the sound came from a different bell tower entirely, in a different land.
They strode up the staircase into the church, towards the main altar. As if in a dream Mathieu pulled on the holy vestments while the devil, surreally, ascended up the pulpit steps and took position there, his wings spread wide.
There were no altar boys to light the candles, no procession. But the people came in regardless. Men and women of the congregation. The bishop. Mathieu’s fellow priests. Some looked confused to be there, some resigned. Some looked eager, with dark smiles that flickered over their faces.
When they were seated, Mathieu led Mass.
It was not like any Mass that Mathieu had ever attended before. He suspected that its like had not before been done on Earth. His hands made the sign of the cross, reversed across his chest, and the audience mirrored him. Words were flowing out of his lips, coming to him without prior knowledge. Some in Latin, some in other languages he knew of or could guess at; some in languages not of Earth or Heaven. The crowd made responses that they seemed to already know, similarly inane. Their faces were dazed. But there were other faces among them, shifting, not human, too bright and dark to look at directly.
The chalice used for the sacrament had appeared before him. He clasped it, lifted it high. He sang nonsense words in a high, erratic voice that did not belong to him, and the crowded chanted something back. He lowered the chalice so that the gathering line of congregants could drink from it, and only then realized that it did not contain the deep red wine of the sacrament—but rather the cold, white seed of the devil.
And they all drank from it; the priests, the bishops, the men and women of the congregation, and the others, with their strange shifting faces. They drank until the cup was empty.
There was a final part of the ritual. Mathieu knew it without being told, and the crowd seemed to know it too. The devil moved at last. He lifted Mathieu off the ground and set him down upon the altar. His hands pushed the holy vestments up, past his ass, past his cock. Mathieu felt the unwavering attention of every member of the crowd upon him. He was splayed out on the altar so that the entire crowd could see the devil’s mastery of him, could see what made the devil worthy to be their Lord. The congregation held their breath as the devil pushed inside of him.
Mathieu’s moaning filled the cathedral hall. There was still a part of him that hated this, that did not want this, but that part had almost no power now. Mathieu could not fight, even if he had wished to. The devil had long since ruled him. He let himself be fucked upon the altar, split and impaled by the devil’s cock. He let them all see how used and abused his hole had become. The devil thrust into him, hard, and Mathieu whimpered out loud, tears of pain springing to his eyes. They all saw it, and he in turn could see the dark coming into their eyes.
“Ave,” said the congregation. “Ave, ave…”
His whimpers and his moans became undistinguishable. The devil pumped his hips in and out of Mathieu at a bestial speed. Mathieu couldn’t hold on. His eyes rolled back in his head.
The devil lifted Mathieu up as he came, so that the entire congregation could see his shame, his pleasure.
“Ave,” they said. “Ave…”
They turned on each other, men and women and holy men and sinners, panting and pushing up skirts. Some were struggling, some were overpowering. Mathieu saw men fall into the aisles, held down forcibly by the stronger, saw others with hands over their mouths to cut off their screams. Then the stronger in turn would be found, and violated. Everywhere there were moans and whimpers and wet cocks and knife-sharp smiles in the dark. Mathieu, their priest, was loudest of all.
When at last he felt the ice-cold seed of the devil pool in his belly, he slipped off the altar. The congregation had paused in their worship to watch. Mathieu went down on his knees, as he had so long ago, and slowly brought his forehead down to rest on the clawed foot of the devil in obeisance and acknowledgement of his role.
High priest of the Beast.