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The Herald in Nude Repose

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The Orlesians were a people of crass taste.

He’d heard of some empress’s son depicting their prophetess in nakedness; the ludicrous measures they’d taken to both bury and preserve that work.

Knowing that, it was unsurprising that another overreaching Orlesian would be attempt to pass off their base lusts as “art” illustrating their most recent holy figure.

Indeed, once one took in the rather black-and-white views of humans, they could hardly be blamed… how often did a creature of such singular allure arrive at the stage of the world? Embellishments were common, of course—it was ever the conceit of those in power to aggrandize themselves—nevertheless, the Herald of Andraste’s charms were well merited…

But these were not things for Solas to contemplate.

The task that was at hand was to determine exactly what ought to be done with this depiction (resting rather pointedly before the bed) in a nobleman’s vacant summer hunting home.

The nobleman was a collector of elven artifacts—even an eluvian rested in his private cellar, the very reason Solas had decided to make a personal visit. The elven servants here had eagerly came into his fold, and with them the knowledge of a horde of treasure kept secretly by a man too-fascinated by the people it had come from.

Likely the reason for this portrait. It must have had a special appeal: divinity and sacrilege twisted together in one beautiful body. The heady mix of something pure and perverse was all too familiar to Solas, and loathe as he was to admit it, the artist had depicted the very icon of that perfectly in his work here.

It was nothing too lascivious—the artist had not completely forgotten himself and painted spread thighs or slick flesh. He would have failed anyway…who other than Solas could have captured the heat in her eyes? The dimples in bare flesh when her spine arched, the sweet pink of her cunt blushed just so…

Solas tore his eyes away abruptly and squeezed the bed post he’d been inadvertently clutching until it creaked.

He wasn’t here to think of that. He wasn’t here to think of her at all, but she found him anyway. There was never any escaping his heart, curse her, curse her… But it was absurd to blame her for his own failings, his own failure of control. If he could not control himself, he was no better than this nobleman, debasing her image to his grotesque self-pleasure.

It was a wonder the man was capable of commissioning a portrait that was portraying purity at all. Solas supposed her image could not be so easily defiled, no matter the manner in which the artist portrayed her. Like this, in profile: knelt on Orlesian silk, her hand holding up the filmy sheets the only thing preserving her body from lustful eyes just barely, oh, just barely, for the soft pink peak of her breast could be seen, so slightly, waiting for him to brush one fluttering hand away and wrap his lips around the little thing and suck, hard. Work his teeth against the bud until it was firm enough, just perfect to pinch and roll between his fingers as he switched to the other, giving a good lick only to blow cool air over the sensitized tip until she was so desperate for real touch she was writhing in his hands, each movement twisting at the nipple he held captive, aggravating her desire for just the barest lick on the neglected one…

He balked and spun away, a hand pressing against his mouth.

He wasn’t a beast. He couldn’t deny his passion could be sometimes primal, yes… but he did not lose control of himself. Or if he had—if one could call it that—it had been at her own implicit begging, her raw need sawing away at his self-control, and, oh, the release that followed from those rare, treasured times had been—

He wasn’t a beast. He could control this—the thoughts, the throbbing, the images…

He had seen her bare, he argued to himself. Many times.

Not many enough, answered that base voice he couldn’t seem to silence.

He shut his eyes firmly. Enough still that he shouldn’t be fraying now. It was obscene, utterly reprehensible that he should allow his control to waver now, on this. Not just for his age, not just for his experience, but the idea that he should relent to his physical desires, that his resolve would finally bend under lust instead of love, when he had vowed even love should not be enough… the insult to her was too great.

And why not? whispered that voice again. It was not breaking, for she was not here to break to. He shuddered to think if she were—she never could resist teasing, taking such absolute wicked delight in tormenting him with shivering caresses to his neck, soft kisses that pulled away so slowly he had to chase for more, vexing him again and again until he cast away his reservations and he dragged her to whatever secluded spot was near and paid her back tenfold.

But that… that was because he allowed it. He might have played at resisting her—pulling away yet always tarrying hopefully for her persistence—but it was laughable how insincere he made those efforts to leave.

It wasn’t like now. To give in now would diminish the pain, all the grief he had put her through. For that reason he could focus on other things, and not the ache that was wearing away at his resistance, sweet promises of relief luring his eyes back to that canvas, to those memories…

He could, for instance, think of why he was here.

It had merely taken the sudden visit of one of the last guardian dragons of Arlathan to clear the estate of all its inhabitants. The great golden beast had been terrifying enough to send them all scurrying with nothing to carry but the clothes on their backs. They had left the place unoccupied yet rich with stolen treasures.

And the portrait was surely one of them, Solas realized, since it could be called nothing short of theft for this nobleman to have taken his pleasure of her unawares, again and again.

He couldn’t leave it here. The nobleman would know he had been robbed one way or another. It outraged him to think of the Comte returning to this estate, flying room to room to see he had been cleaned out but yet finding this hidden prize of his, to cling to and fondle and cavort before. Why should this part of his collection be overlooked? Undoubtedly word would reach the Inquisitor that a dragon had appeared and a horde of elven treasure had mysteriously vanished thereafter. She would guess who was responsible, and come to investigate. Solas didn’t know if it was worse that she find it and see what low uses the Orlesians had made of her image, or for it to remain hidden from her, with the Comte taking secret pleasure from her presence; comparing his fanciful image to the real one, indescribably more enticing in person…

In fact, the Comte would be unlikely to say he’d had a portrait at all, if Solas took it…

Breath hitching, Solas reeled his thoughts in once more, disgust coiling up in his stomach. What manner of despicable creature was forming in him now? He wouldn’t suffer the Orlesian to keep this portrait—but he would act for no other reason save in service to her.

Before thoughts of servicing her ran away from him again, Solas ripped the duvet from the nearby bed and pulled up the sheets. He’d nearly cast them over the portrait before abruptly realizing—these were the sheets this Comte had been… Repulsive. He wouldn’t suffer for that either.

He dropped the sheets back to the bed, frustration mounting. He ought to continue with his mission, deal with this once he had searched out what he came for. She—the portrait would wait.

The eluvian he had stepped through was in the private bedroom of the master of the house. He could feel nearby the chamber, behind the wall, where the artifacts were kept. He made his way purposefully to the armoire that must have hid the entrance, hands clenching and unclenching, and didn’t dare glance back.

He thought stepping inside would offer some sort of tangible reprieve, but there was no such mercy. Instead the hum of all the artifacts buzzed against his skin, through his clothes, and the dim corners of the room shifted and played tricks with his vision. The effect was setting him in that half-place where the Fade was nearer to his perception. His heart picked up, loud in his ears, and it was impossible—near impossible—to ignore the pounding of his blood now. He could imagine flickers of her, as she was in the portrait, but also flashes—memories—of her bent over, ripe and slick as a peach; over him, guiding his hands to the cleft at her legs as she sunk on him; twisting into the bedsheets with a leg slung over his shoulder and beneath his own hips, as he drove into her; arched back and desperately trembling thighs cradling each side of his head, and every time, he could remember every time so well.

It was with the most dedicated effort that he managed to banish the visions.

He was getting nowhere with this. He’d come with a plan, a mission, and had been waylaid so easily! His eyes flitted to the corner of each papered wall, searching. There—the little crystal scryer he’d come for. The reason he’d made the trip personally. It could fit in his pocket. He could take it and leave, and send agents to collect the rest.

Solas snatched the thing up, and regretted it immediately. The latent magic sparked and surged into his body, a feeling that, in his state, pooled wickedly in his cock, and he shuddered, then groaned, pressing forehead to the fist where he clutched the little amulet. He hadn’t the clarity of mind to surpass it. The magic sang into his mana, stroking him from the insides, sending shivering waves through his body. He felt weak and alive all at once, and even where his resolve was fading into meaningless distinctions, his imagination grew sharp.

In the dark it was too easy to imagine her coming to him as he loved her best: in body and mind unguarded, that way which she stripped him of himself and down to only his self.

His cock felt so heavy, so desperate, he knew she’d see what he needed at once. At first he thought of her dropping to her knees, taking him out of his trousers, and sighing with delight as she pressed plush kisses up the shaft. She’d reach the head, and ever pleased to make him wait, let the tip rest against her lips, so that she kissed, not licked, away the beads of arousal gathering there. Finally she’d have mercy, and give a firm little swipe from her tongue—but the thought of that little pressure from her mouth changed his mind entirely. He saw himself reaching out to grasp her hair, and she gasped instead of sighed, and he pulled himself out of his breeches for her.

Entirely of her own volition she’d arch her neck back, tugging at her own hair wrapped in his fist, letting his cock rest against her chin and mouth and she’d look up at him, defiant and pliable at once. She always knew how her submission was her victory as well—but he’d make her wear that look to its fullest. He wouldn’t withdraw his hand from her hair, not entirely, but he’d bring it around her jaw to let his thumb run over her lower lip, his other hand holding himself in clear understanding, chin up and eyes boring into hers with patience.

Finally she’d look down, and when she met his eyes again they would be gentle, demure with begging. Those wet pleading eyes made his heart soft and his cock hard, and he'd bruise her lips with his thumb once more, until she'd part her mouth and slide her tongue down his shaft, open and hot for him to sink into.

He realized he had his other hand pressing flat against his erection, palming himself through his clothes.

With a ragged shout that sounded more bereft than disgusted, Solas dragged his hand away. The loss was overwhelming. He shook, unable to contain his harsh breathing—all the energy in his body felt spent save what was crying need. He had to—he had to finish this, there was no escaping it, but even as his hands twitched dangerously close to his aching shaft, his throat closed up and his eyes burned with shame.

It was all he could do to stagger back to the bedchamber and lean against the mattress, shaking as desperation arced through him like a live thing.

His breathing was heavy now, but to his torment, even the expanse of his lungs ignited his body: every movement brushed his cock against the fabric of his breeches, too tight to avoid the seizing contact, too loose to offer real friction… yet without devoting his whole awareness to stilling his hips, he was groaning, using the bed post as an anchor and rutting his hips against nothing but the fabric encasing his shaft, and totally unable to stop.

This isn’t what he wanted, this wasn’t what she deserved, but oh, what he wouldn’t do to feel her hips crushed between his hands, the taste of her… Like this, mind rubbed raw with the sharp ache he could almost remember perfectly her taste—her skin, her mouth, her sweet cunt—and he was chasing that just as desperately as his release.

He moved with increasing need against his clothes, into the air. The minute rub of the cloth offered precious little pressures to his erection, just tiny nerve sparks along his shaft he was barely able to register yet kept him at this maddening precipice. And he was reduced to thrusting into the air more wantonly every passing moment, feverish with need for anything, just a bit of friction… no better than an animal…

The thought was galvanizing, just enough to give him a moment to force his hips to still—but he continued to quake, shuddering inward as his hands spasmed against the sheets he’d been clutching in final, staying effort.

It wasn’t enough—he had to adjust himself if he wanted to stop, and did not think about how desperately he wanted that touch anyway…He pushed his hand down to beneath his belt, pausing with a rippling breath when that light touch over his stomach made his cock jump and legs shake. He waited for the moment to pass, but it held on, a long, shivering cord that he knew there was no relief from—save to be over and done with. Thoughts disjointed, unable to pause anymore for fear of succumbing, he worked his hand lower into his leggings, his nails lightly scraping down his groin. That touch, both sharp and dull, made his other fist clench and his body rack forward, shuddering in place, willing himself not to move until he could afford to without ruin.

Uncurling his fist, he dug his nails hard into his thigh, releasing the lower lip he’d found himself sucking on only to press his teeth into it instead. With his other hand he finally reached down to tuck himself firmly into his belt, determined to use the barest touches to get the job done. He came into contact with his shaft, light, barely-there caresses from the tips of his fingers. The sensation forced a hoarse cry from his lips, and he seized his cock, swiping his thumb over the head. Hot pleasure convulsed through him, and without a coherent thought he began working his hand up and down in short jerks, restrained by his trousers and unable to form a clear enough thought to free himself or stop.

What would she think of him like this: totally debased with need? For her, though, for her. He felt briefly gratified, as if it were somehow proof of his devotion—and then at once equally revolted he'd thought it. The feeling wouldn't hold though, he couldn't cling on to the revulsion the way he wanted: it twisted itself into fantasy.

He imagined her watching at a slight, impenetrable distance as he dragged his hand over himself feverishly—coy smile as she brought two fingers to her mouth—no, his mouth, to suck, groaning and needy for the bit of contact. He thought of her pulling back to stroke her breast—those soft little mounds, how he missed them—leaving a wet trail left on her way to her cunt, flushed and slick.

She'd hold herself away from him, taunting him with smooth, slow rocks of her hips, exaggerating shivers and gasps of delight just to torment him, rolling her head back to expose her throat. There was nothing he could do to draw her closer, so he would watch, pumping his hand as she caressed her fingers over her folds, ripe as a plum.

“Do you want this, Solas?” she’d ask, darkly amused. “Do you remember how wet I am for you?” she'd taunt, and draw back her hand to show him the shining slick on her fingers.

He'd beg for it, oh yes. “Yes, yes— I remember— let me taste— bring yourself to me, let me taste you, your sweet honey…”

As he worked himself in tortuous clipped strokes, getting closer and closer, stomach muscles jumping, he shuddered out, “Ah, vhenan…”

With a cry he wrenched his hand away, his whole body thrashing suddenly at the loss, again, it was too much to pull away again—anything more and he would be finished, he knew, cock twitching against his stomach desperately as he shook. It was all he could do to keep his hands away, clawing at the bedspread.

All he could think on was the hot pulse lashing at his senses, driving rational thought from his mind. His eyes drew mercilessly back to the portrait, where she knelt as if waiting for him in soft firelight. He could see so clearly where she would turn to gaze at him, dropping the gauzy sheets that obscured her with a smile and lay back, wet, warm, waiting and he was helpless yet again to stop from rutting against nothing but his clothes, his hips begging for the relief—even dignity—of his hand. All he could do to deter the need was stall to push his breeches down, freeing his erection at last.

He dragged himself away from the portrait, backwards over the bed, the same place that nobleman had done the same thing—no different from Solas now. No different, and he tried to focus on that. He pressed his head against the sheets, staring straight at the ceiling, away from the portrait and away from his cock bobbing so obscenely between her image and his eyes. But the sensation of the sheets, silken ripples slipping under him, recalled truer memories.

Cool nights and heated bodies. The firmness of flesh, the scents and sounds, the sheer reality of those times were fading to the specter of memory—but even phantoms were richer in his mind than all else he had known in this broken world.

Laying with her had been the greatest of indulgences; his only grace had been the convictions of his love. There was no virtue in this—and suddenly the thought of this transgression seemed inevitable.

Head dizzy with need and longing, and that small dread that knew he would regret this, he slid his hand, electric, over his shaft and squeezed.

The pressure spiked through every vein, and he moaned helplessly. Flashing impulses conflicted: end this as an ordeal or draw it out. He was already past the terminal point of sin…some yearning part of him wanted this excuse to succumb to everything he missed, pieces of him he’d cast aside. Another part feared coming back from it. But he was too far gone to make choices, to reason out his position. Images came to him, one after the other. He tried to bat them from his mind reflexively, only for another more heady to take over.

He did not move his hand, merely pulsed his fingers in punishing grip to keep the edge at bay. Pleasure was choked and then rushed along with each flex and release. Flickering between one fantasy and the next as if he pulled a book from the shelf, looking for just the right page, like she was some archive of wanton heat.

He remembered kissing his way past her navel, fingers skimming light down her sides. Parting her thighs, curling his hands under her to grip and knead the soft flesh as he worked on licking her folds open, avoiding that swollen pearl. Dragging his tongue up from her core, letting the honey gather on his tongue as he slowly came closer, closer…only to swipe just to the left or right of where she desperately wanted him.

He loved how she thrashed then, and with that image gentled his grip on his cock and adapted an exacting rhythm.

He pictured things that had never happened: bracing her back against his chest, arm around her stomach, legs spread between hers to force her knees wide. Letting his mouth rest against the curve of her neck where he pressed chaste, loving kisses while he simultaneously swirled his fingers over her soaking cunt. She was spread and vulnerable for him and he was devoted to giving her endless pleasure.

Solas kept his eyes, half-lidded and glazed, on the portrait now, the still image of it overlaying with fantasy. He brought his fist up in tight strokes, the spasms of pleasure almost unbearable, forcing him to drop his momentum when the sensation grew too powerful.

Yet, moments later he was grinding himself into his hand with feverish urgency.

Ah, if she came upon him now…whatever her true reaction, it had no bearing on his fantasy of her shocked and shivering as she witnessed how desperately he longed for her. Exposed as he was, she’d have sympathy, his sweet, merciful heart, coming to him with open arms and barely able to cross half the room before he was upon her, dragging her into this bed and pressing her beneath him, pinning her down with his hips. He’d have to be careful not to end himself there, he thought, quickening the pace on his length, not to roll against her until he was spent, the mere scent of her might as well be enough at this point…

He loved their soft couplings, cherished those still nights, but his imagination was just as frenetic as his hand on his engorged shaft, and he pictured tearing at her clothes, pulling at bindings, buckles, divesting her of everything that separated them until she was bare and her skin was damp with the effort, enough that he could run his tongue over her flesh and remember the taste of her sweat.

He shuddered, the line between the color of fantasy and the detail of memory blending together until they became a sharper, realer thing to envision. It made him close, drove him nearly to completion, he knew he was just at the edge. Somehow tormented at the thought of losing these images, almost real, he hurried them ahead to the moment he’d lay over her, her legs tucked over his hips, and finally press into her slowly until he was fully seated and sheathed in her soft core.

He’d never be able to keep that steadied pace, no matter how much he wanted to drag it out. He would have to bring his magic to bear with him, letting licks of mana spread over the bud of her sex because he must, must have her finish with him.

His hand matched the speed he pictured his thrusts. He was almost bowed forward now at the taut string of his impending release, ready to snap, working himself higher and higher, reaching a ringing point where his fantasy was falling apart from any real form, only able to think of what he needed, what he must have before he was done.

Every word of love on his lips, she’d arch and cry out his name and release and—there, his thoughts shattered into climax, ecstasy pouring into every shadow as he racked forward, nearly bent double, cock pulsing hotly as he spent. Shuddering once, twice, groaning out low sounds, he finally finished, and slumped again against the mattress, breathing harsh.

The fantasy receded as the raw lust ebbed away.

His heart was slow to calm, and Solas brought his hand up to regard where pearly strings of his own spend clung to his fingers, breathing deep. He shut his eyes, and let his hand drop back down; he exhaled a shaking breath.

He still hadn’t made a decision about that portrait.