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I didn’t believe the Chujen, and I was confused. I was being trained for clouds and rain at the spring festival, as was Bao. My training and preparation had been exacting, and I had already pleasured with the kiss of the yangchu act most of the important and famous men who would be bidding at the seed sowing ceremony to take me into my first clouds and rain. But all contact with these jen had been under the watchful eyes of the master of the House of the Green Dragon, the Chujen, to ensure that I remained pure of the clouds and rain and did not lose my chenchieh, my chastity, until the ceremony. The Chujen had said I had done admirably well with the wiles and enticements that had been taught me and that the bidding and the bidders themselves were in a frenzy of anticipation.
But one night, weeks before the spring festival, the Chujen said my time had come early—and that of Bao as well—and I had been roused before dawn the next day and bathed and shaved clean of everything but a silken skein of pigtailed hair at the back of my head. I had also been perfumed, powdered with the enticement powder, and—when what I thought was just one of Chujen’s cruel training exercises and teases turned to the horror of possibility—shown that I would be clothed in the shimmering red brocaded robes of my cloud and rains ceremony.
Chujen had told me of the Kueilo, the foreign ghosts, who had appeared off Haikou inside a monstrous chu’an, floating beneath a billowing cloud. But I didn’t believe him or understand what this had to do with me and Bao.
“This is far greater than the spring festival, Gaopu,” he had said. “This spreads the renown of the House of the Green Dragon all the way to the feet of the Shengchang of Hainan.”
I knew nothing of the governor of our island province and cared even less, but the Chujen slapped me for my pouting insolence and continued.
“The Shengchang has been put into a quandary, and he has come to me for a solution. This is an opportunity of generations. And you could not be more honored if your chenchieh could be renewed every spring for the highest bidder. In fact, with the favoring of the Shengchang, the bidding on you should go up now, although I will have to do some fast training and preparation of another for the spring festival.”
I opened my newly rouged lips to speak, but, seeing the expression on my face, the Chujen slapped me again, sending clouds of white powder into the air and a flurry of house servants scurrying about to repair the damage to their hours of work on my face. As luck had it, I still was naked in the wake of the powdering. I would have had better luck if I already had been wound into my red robes. Chujen wouldn’t have dared ruin those with the spray of white powder. As it was, he was wasting a fortune. The intoxicating, yangchu-hardening powder was a dear commodity.
“If you are successful, I may send you to Haikou, to the Shengchang, who has made certain requests. He is the one who selected you for this assignation. If not, I will turn you out into the streets of Xinzhou, where the fishermen of the town will know what to do with you.”
I remained unimpressed. He often threatened me with the randy fisherman of the town below our cliff. He had invested too much in me for that to be a real threat. At the worst, he would sell me to some dried-up ancient with no seed, flatulence, and a limp yangchu.
“We are to provide delay,” Chujen informed me. “You are to make the Kueilo who appears for you to dally as long as possible. the Shengchang does not know if the vessel is a shangchu’an or a chunch’an, a merchant ship or a war ship. There have been rumors of these Kueilo appearing at the fringes of the Central Kingdom, but never here. In either case, they must be made to turn away or go down to the depths of the sea. The Shengchang has sent queries to the emperor, but the situation is momentous; he must know if he can simply kill them or not.”
I adopted my humblest look and kowtowed at the Chujen’s feet. “But I don’t understand, Chujen. Why are they coming here to Xinzhou? We are simply the pleasure resort for Haikou. What do we have to do with such momentous affairs?”
The Chujen patiently tried to explain, which in itself made me worry. Such reasonableness was not in keeping with the Chujen’s nature. “Panicked for delaying tactics, the Shengchang saw the eyes of the Kueilo’s Ch’uanchu, ship’s captain, light up at the offer of a respite of clouds and rain. And he chose the House of the Green Dragon over other pleasures. And the Shengchang insisted on purity—in short, our spring offerings for the seed sowing ceremony—you and Bao.”
Still I did not believe the Chujen. Still I thought this was some sort of conditioning joke he was having. That it was all part of the ritual. What did the outer world have to do with our small pleasure house high on the cliffs over the Xinzhou lagoon?
But later that afternoon, as I reclined on pillows on the veranda of poker oyna the Vermilion Pavilion overlooking the sea, trying my best not to transfer any of the enticement powder to the red brocade of my ceremonial robes, I began to believe. I could not believe what I was seeing at first. A giant sea bird slowly appeared from around the eastern point of rocks and glided toward the lagoon, guided in by a red barge of the Shengchang that I recognized from his earlier visits to the House of the Green Dragon. A towering, black-wood vessel driven by billowing clouds of white gossamer.
Bao was by my side, in robes of darkest emerald blue. He shrank from the sight of the giant, floating bird and began to breathe heavily. But I was mesmerized by the sight. And aroused. I had always been scolded for my fantasies and attraction to danger, but these were the same traits that had me here, at the pinnacle of empowerment. There was no more luxurious life or power over powerful men than the life of a clouds and rain master.
As Bao’s nervousness grew with the far-off vision of figures in strange, black, close-fitting clothing roping down into the House of the Green Dragon launch that had been sent out to their vessel to fetch them, my interest and curiosity grew.
For what seemed to be hours but was only a short time, we could hear the Kueilo being ceremoniously welcomed in the reception rooms below us. We heard the wheedling, smooth tones of the Chujen, covered by a raucous cacophony of hard, guttural sounds from the Kueilo. It was obvious that neither understood the other, but as the voices of the foreign ghosts grew louder and their speech slurred, we understood that the Chujen had managed to place them under the spell of our special wine, spiced to loosen nerves and cares and enervate the yangchu.
And then two of them were there in the entrance to the Vermilion Pavilion, one on each side of the Chujen, and with a semicircle of slack-jawed and murmuring tunic-clad house servants behind them.
They were both monstrous. The taller of the two, quite evidently the Chu’anchu, was a Hungmao, a red-haired devil. I had read of such in the classics, but they were monsters from beyond the pale. He stood there, a full head taller than the Chujen. And such a head it was. Fully encircled with bright red, curly hair—on top and down the sides and under his chin and his nose. Broad shouldered and thin waisted, he was swathed in clinging sweat-soaked, rough black coat, under coat, and leggings and heavy black, shiny boots, which were not just exotic, but they also must be stifling in the heat of our subtropical island province. I could smell him from here. A meat eater. Underneath the hair and clothing, I could see that the man was of palest hue, the source of the name that had been given to these recent interlopers on our world—THE world: ghost.
The other man, not much taller than the Chujen, but much thicker, all hard muscle, in the body and similarly clothed to the other Kueilo, stood beside and slightly back from the Hungmao, another signal of who was the most important. This second foreign ghost had hair of the tawniest gold, not an auspicious color. We had legends of other such golden-haired men visiting from the outside side, across the deserts to the west, in times past. But they had been famous for their cruelty, and we had absorbed and destroyed them as they deserved. This Kueilo standing before us, one step back from his Chu’anchu, exuded this sense of cruelty. He had a gold ring in one ear and a black patch over one eye, and a leering stare that bore right through Bao and me.
Bao shrank against me, but I looked out at the Kueilo with disdain and with a haughtiness that I had been taught drove some men wild with wanting. I felt all tingly, ready for the challenge of my Shengchang. But the men smelled to high heaven. Before I could stomach even pleasuring either one of them in a kiss of the yangchu act, they would have to be cleaned. And I told the Chujen so in no uncertain terms. His eyes flashed, but he realized, I am sure, that there were limits to what I could do with an unwashed meat eater. Besides, as I was soon to find out, he had already anticipated that need.
As soon as I had spoken, the eyes of both Kueilo focused on me and both smiled that smile I had already seen a hundred times at the House of the Green Dragon. They both wanted me. But it was the pale blue eyes of the Hungmao Ch’uanchu that I met with mine, and I knew in an instant the pairings were settled.
If I had known beforehand what happened then, I would have acted differently. But the future, even the immediate future, is not for solitary Chungkuojen—Chinese man—like me to know—this is knowledge reserved to the emperor or at least one of no lower in the order than the Shengchang.
The Chujen motioned for Bao and me to rise and part. I was waved toward the eastern chamber off the Vermilion Pavilion and Bao toward the western chamber. The Chujen nudged canlı poker oyna the Hungmao toward the east and the golden Kueilo toward the west, which they both immediately acknowledged and acceded to. The house servants split behind the Chujen, one half gliding toward the eastern chamber and the other half toward the western chamber.
I heard Bao mutter a cut-off exclamation as he and the golden Kueilo both reached the entrance to the western chamber. This was unheard of—for a clouds and rain master to say anything at this stage of the act—and my head snapped around at the sound. The golden Kueilo had already laid hands on Bao. When Bao involuntarily shrank away from him, the golden Kueilo backhanded him across the cheek with such a mighty blow that Bao was propelled through the entrance of the eastern chamber. The golden Kueilo turned and gave the house servants moving in his direction a menacing look that stopped them dead in their tracks and they retreated, backing away from him and bowing low at the waist.
My eyes went to the Chujen for reaction. Under normal circumstances, he would have used his martial arts skills to neutralize such a crass and out-of-control patron. But, though I could see that Chujen’s jaw was set and his body tensed on the edge, he did nothing. That’s when I knew this was a reality. That all he had said about the directive from the Shengchang and the importance of delaying the Kueilo’s return to Haikou was true. True and necessary. Important. Perhaps vital to maintaining civilization as we knew it.
The sounds from the western chamber were rending. The tearing of cloth—which I could see was tearing equally at the Chujen, something I could well understand, knowing the price of a spring ceremonial robe—the crude gruntings of the Kueilo in immediate and full rut, and the cries of Bao, cries that were unthinkable in the House of the Green Dragon, told me in no uncertain terms that the clouds and rain had already started in the western chamber and that Bao’ chenchieh—his chastity—was as good as undone already. I knew that any delay was now entirely mine to provide.
At the doorway to the eastern chamber, I turned and looked up into the pale blue eyes of the Hungmao and tried to convey with every fiber of my being that he would have me but not in the way and at the pace that the golden Kueilo was having Bao. He seemed to understand, and I was heartened to get the impression that he took his pleasures at a much more easy pace than his compatriot did.
At the interior end of the eastern chamber was a bathing tub with steaming water in it. At the open end overlooking the Xinzhou lagoon was a pallet of red silk with mountains of red silk pillow cushions, the home of the clouds and rain, where I would lose my chenchieh.
The Hungmao stood in the center of the room, an amused look on his face, and his arms outstretched and legs in a wide stance, as the house servants slowly but methodically figured out how to unclothe him. The Chujen stood in the doorway from the Vermilion Pavilion, watching the Hungmao being disrobed. He would stand there and observe until the completion of the first clouds and rain. It was his duty to do so—to observe and record the time and place of my loss of chenchieh. It would be marked in vermilion ink, the highest honor—at the pleasure of the Shengchang. Even higher than a link to the spring festival seed sowing ceremony would have been. It added stacks of hsienchien, cash, to my worth for each subsequent clouds and rain assignation.
The Chujen obviously could not observe the moment for Bao, which, from the sounds from the other chamber had already taken place and was moving into a second taking, but the Chujen was a modern jen of practicality. He would simply record what he hadn’t actually seen and he knew that I would not naysay him, even though it was my duty to do so; he knew that I would not subject Bao to that dishonor and loss of future status.
My eyes were also on those of the Hungmao. His eyes were focused on me. He wanted to see my reaction to his nakedness. And, trained as I was, I was already prepared to respond with embarrassment and awe. I was trained to do this for a eunuch or castrati, if faced with that in this situation and they had been given access to me by the Chujen. I needed no training to fall back on, though. The Hungmao was huge in ways I had never seen before. His body was well formed and hard and bulging in muscles, obviously from hard, honest work. He was covered in red, curly hair everywhere. And his yangchu was the heaviest and longest I’d ever seen.
I gulped and my eyes went wide open and my jaw slack—all movements I’d been trained in but movements that came naturally under these circumstances. And my reaction pleased the Hungmao, which I could readily see as his yangchu rose parallel with the matting under us and filled out impossibly larger.
He went into the bath with the help of the house servants. A couple of these internet casino carried off his clothing, undoubtedly to be double boiled, and the other house servants began scrubbing him in earnest. The past year’s spring festival master, Wangan, glided into the room with willowy stride and knelt beside the tub. His hands went into the soapy water, and I watched the Hungmao’s eyes slit and the pleasure fan out across his face as Wangan enclosed his hands around the Hungmao’s yangchu and began to stroke.
It was my time then. I stood there, between the tub and the sea, between the Hungmao and the pallet of my chenchieh farewell and untied my obi and began to slowly unwind my red ceremonial robe and the deep purple under robe. I took a long time doing this, and the Hungmao’s eyes were glued to my form the entire time. I could hear him sighing from where I stood from the ministrations of Wangan’s delicate, expert hands and fingers on the Kueilo’s yangchu. Almost as if not realizing what he was doing, the Hungmao had one hand searching inside the folds of Wangan’s robes, where he obviously found what he was looking for and was stroking it. His other hand was lifted above his head and had snaked into the tunic of one of the house servants scrubbing at him and had exposed and was tweaking a nipple.
After a slow, orchestrated, long-practiced performance of revealing myself, I stood there before him, the folds of the red and purple robes swirling around my feet, my hands on my hips and swaying ever so imperceptively from side to side. I was perhaps half his size. Lithe and willowy, but muscle hard from years of ever-higher-level tai chi practice. Naked and completely shaved. The pert little yangchu and ball sac that Chungkuojen so highly prized in their clouds and rain masters. I worried briefly if this would please a Kueilo as well, but the look he cast on my revealed body left no doubt that he did. As was wanted in a spring festival master, I had the years of an adult but the body of a youth.
The Kueilo lost all interest in Wangan and the house servant and, indeed, in his bath, although, happily he had been scrubbed sufficiently already. He rose up and stepped out of the tub. Wangan had done well. That and the effect of my own disrobing had caused the Hungmao’s yangchu to rise and fill out to rival the most virile of the stud horses in the House of the Green Dragon’s stables.
I moved breathlessly to him, kneeling before him and gently enclosing the base of his yangchu in my small fists, one above the other, and still leaving more than I thought my mouth could accommodate. In a rustle of naked feet and soft silk, I sensed more than heard Wangan and the house servants evaporate beyond the bamboo screens.
For the next several minutes, as the Hungmao sighed and growled and rocked back and forth on the pads of his gigantic feet and breathed heavily and noisily, he moved my head between his enormous paws while I entertained him with everything I had learned in the art of the kiss of the yangchu.
He was getting bigger and bigger and was pumping ever more rapidly with his yangchu inside my mouth. My hands went to his heavy orbs. I could hardly enclose them in my hands, they were so large and tightly balled. None that I had handled before now were anything like this size. The Kueilo was a monster of a man, and I was wondering if he was typical of his people or a monster among them as well as I felt his bulbous knob pressing against the back of my throat.
I lightly squeezed on the orbs, wanting him to drain himself now, before the clouds and rain, to delay that. Every moment of delay was precious time. I understood that now.
But, with a roar, the Hungmao, pulled me up and off his throbbing yangchu. He turned me and pushed me down on all fours, and I understood that he was going to invade me right there and then.
That could not be, though. Our customs and rules were quite explicit. I must lose my chenchieh on the red pallet across the chamber. I heard Chujen quietly exclaim, obviously making the same point. But I didn’t need him to remind me of the ceremony requirements. I had been studying these for four season cycles.
I broke free somehow and half crawled and half scuttled toward the red pallet. The Hungmao misinterpreted, assuming, I’m sure, that he had frightened me too much and that I was trying to escape. The renewed cries from the other chamber across the Vermilion Pavilion only added credence to this thought. Bao was being plowed hard and rough now, as he was loudly and plaintively complaining of—just like a stable boy, completely wiping away his dignity and social status. I could only hope that only the Chujen and I remained to hear of his dishonoring—that the house servants were well beyond hearing. But I knew that was hopeless thought. All that comforted me was knowing that any house servant heard gossiping about this night would lose his tongue—and maybe his yangchu as well.
The Hungmao reached me and toppled me down on my belly in a cloud of white powder as I reached the red silk pallet. I did, manage, however to pull up onto the pallet on my hands and knees as the Hungmao encased my hips between his strong knees.
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