This is just a short story, not related to one of my novellas. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Warning: Explicit sex, without penetration.
Artemis, still a virgin
Her hands cupping beneath the cool water, she raised them slowly, watching mesmerized as the water fell in a cascade through her fingers, down her arms, and smoothly across the rise of her breasts. One droplet hung, frozen for a moment suspended from the very tip of her peaked, pale pink nipple. A summer sigh, not enough to even call a breeze, wafted from the summit of the trees which hid her secret spring, and hardened that same nipple. Her areola pebbled and she gasped with a blossoming pull down between her thighs. The droplet fell and the still water rippled outward, causing little waves to lap at the rocky edge of this paradise.
A sudden crackle, nothing more than the snap of a single twig, echoed like a crack of thunder through the grove and across the spring. A decidedly masculine groan followed, deep and rumbling. Artemis lifted her eyes to the sound and met his eyes, deep brown and as surprised as her own, from a thicket of just ripening blackberry bushes. Both reacted simultaneously, her arms rising to cover her exposed breasts, he standing tall and stepping from around the bush. She rose, too, and dropped a palm down to hide the light brown curls and her awakened sex. The calm waters of her sanctuary became a heaving tempest, not unlike her emotions, though only temporary at her awkward effort. Her maidenly urge to conceal herself made him smile, dimples appearing at the corners of his lush lips.
Far too handsome for a mere mortal, when he at last announced his presence formally, “Actaeon,” offering a slight bow before her, she understood why. A grandson of the divine-born Harmonia and her divine-favored mate, Cadmus. Of course, he would find her. She had heard of him, in fact, heard from him. Actaeon was one of the best hunters in this region. His pack of fifty dogs were known throughout Greece, their progeny filling the forests of all Greece with their baying. Before each day’s hunt, he routinely went to her local temple, really nothing but a stone altar beside the path which led to this forest, and offered her a prayer for luck on the trail. Yes, she had heard from him often.
“No man is supposed to see me in this state,” she whispered, her voice rising a bit at the end as a very warm blush suffused her entire body. His gaze fell to her feet and rose with the spread of the flush. It lingered, expectantly, at her hand between her legs and at the arm braced across her breasts.
“Perhaps. But, I am no mere man…” he paused and waited, for what, she wasn’t sure. The company of men was not her usual crowd. “You are Artemis, are you not?”
“I am goddess of this forest, yes.” At this statement, her voice was strong and certain. Yes, she was a goddess and he was a mortal. She could control this situation. As goddess, all obeyed her slightest command. “And, you are not welcome. Go, now, before my retinue of nymphs return. If they spot you here, in my presence, I will have no choice but to reward your curiosity with a severe punishment.”
His booming laugh shook the leaves in the trees, almost as if they joined in his mirth. “I think not, my goddess,” Actaeon spoke clearly, taking steps forward with each word, “your nymphs are far from here, playing with the newborn fawns. I spotted them earlier today. By now, I would guess they are all dozing soundlessly in the heat of the day tired from the hunt, like my hounds I dare say. You are all alone. Except for me.” She knew he spoke the truth, for the sun had not shifted much in the sky since she had begged her nymphs to leave her; their incessant chatter, though usually pleasant and welcoming, had begun to nag at her. So, after her nymphs had helped her lay down her arms and disrobe, and Crocale had gently and elaborately gathered the soft curls of her burnt chestnut hair atop her head, she had lovingly shooed her hand-maidens away. She had wanted solitude. She got it. Now, alone, she faced Actaeon.
He reached out with a sun-darkened arm, muscular and heavy with deep veins, and ran the tip of his calloused finger from the ledge of her collarbone, down, along the side of her ribs. Her body shook with the effort to maintain her resolve. She was the virgin goddess and she would not give up her designation of such to him. To no man.
His finger continued lower, skimming the dip of her waist and the rise of her hip. His eyes held hers, passion deepening the color from deep brown to nearly black. Actaeon took another step toward her, stepping down into the waters of the spring, the edge of his tunic just wetting. His other hand rose and grazed the arm across her chest, rising to slip behind her neck. His head tilted, his eyes dropped, and he leaned close into her. Her smell was intoxicating, like the balsam of the forest. She knew the kiss was imminent and closed her own eyes to deny it. But his lips hesitated, barely touching her own.
“I’ll still leave you a virgin, goddess. You have my promise.”
The pressure of his lips, then, so lush, so full, a complement to her own, ripped a harsh and lustful moan from her. She leaned in ever so slightly to deepen the kiss. And, he took full advantage. His tongue slipped out and gently lapped at the sweetness of her, coaxing her lips to part and let him taste her further. On a deep sigh, her body handed her over. Her passion-tinged lips, reddening with the rush of blood, opened on a quick intake of breath. But, it wasn’t air she needed more of, it was him. He responded as she needed, unknown to her how much, with a gentle thrust of his thick tongue to delve into her warm mouth. She tasted like the forest, with hints of night-blooming jasmine and honeysuckle. He quickly wanted more, of her, of her scent, of her flavor. He deepened the kiss more fully, stepping up tight against her, raising his hands to tilt her head to fit perfectly with his. She acquiesced easily, too overcome with sensation to form any more complaints or orders.
The hands that cupped her chin and circled her neck began to slide lower as Artemis countered his passion with her own. Her own arms had wrapped around his neck, her fingers tangling in the long dark hair at the nape of his neck. When she bound one curl around a finger and tugged, he ripped his mouth free of hers and pulled back an instant, seeing the depths of her arousal in her widening pupils as she stared up at him, startled by his abruptness. He didn’t give her time to speak, instead, lowered his mouth to the bottom lobe of her ear and sucked. Her harsh breathing ratcheted up. Her breasts heaved right into his large warm hand, which had traced a path down from her neck to her shoulder, across the toned muscles there. She sighed at the sensation of his finger circling her nipple, then grasping its peak and tugging it gently between his thumb and finger. His mouth lowered from her ear lobe, across the sharp curve of her jawline. Down further, his tongue licked at her pulse, then her throat. She stopped breathing.
His lips kissed their way across the length of her collarbone. His other hand traced down her spine, making her suck in her breath, then hiss it out between her teeth. He let it stay, tucked up against the small of her back where her spine curved seductively out to her full cheeks. As his lips found their way to the opposite breast and caught that nipple in the warmth of his mouth to suckle and pull, he dropped to his knees before the goddess. Artemis, at last, opened her eyes, feeling Actaeon’s presence lower in the water. Without him before her, Aelous’ breath of air flitting across the spring caused her body to shiver. Though, not even a moment later, she shivered again for a different reason. Her eyes had dropped to the top of Actaeon’s head – she admired his full, soft, dark hair –when suddenly she felt his middle finger slip between the crack of her cheeks and glide down. When he reached her bud, he traced around it again and again, his other fingers and tongue mimicking the movement on her pebbled and aching nipples. She felt the soft hairs at her nape tingle and a deep pulsing bloom between her legs. Her eyes closed on a moan and she felt her knees weaken.
Actaeon took her reaction to heart, a smile forming on the lips still tormenting her. He deepened his caress on her bud, pushing slightly in, the very tip of his middle finger pushing through her tightened hole. At this, her knees did collapse and he had to react quickly to catch her. He half-stood to grab her hips and control her slide back into the water. He came down with her, drenching his tunic. Actaeon stood quickly, once he had her settled, one fleeting perusal of her, wet and barely aware, driving his actions faster as he undid his belt and lifted his tunic over his head. Her awareness peaked when she peeked up at him, towering over her. Her eyes, at first, seemed unable to settle on any one particular part of him.
“Oh, my gods,” she said, barely audible, in complete amazement. Artemis, unaccustomed as she was to men, was unprepared for what she now saw. He was as gorgeous as her nymphs, though where they were soft, he was hard, and where they were curvy, he was all hard planes. She noticed his hair, the same dark color she admired earlier, now hiding his own nipples from her, now trailing down his sternum to the muscles of his abdomen, now all but disappearing further down, only to cushion an impressive erection. Her eyes refused to look anywhere else, drawn to his cock. She reached out to touch him, though, he moved to stop her. Her gaze darted to his and she thought to stare him down. She was, after all, still a goddess. What she wanted, she got. But, it wasn’t necessary, for he must have decided to let her have her way and dropped his hand from her wrist. He smirked at her, then. She didn’t notice.
Her finger just touched him, a whisper of sensation, on the tip of his cock, poised at his slit. He shut his eyes, willing her to grasp him hard and tug on him relentlessly. She didn’t do either. One finger was followed by another, then another until she had his thick length fully between her fist. With little pressure, she began to move her hand on his cock, letting it slide back and forth. She loved the feeling of him like this. When she touched his base, she felt his sack against her thumb. Curious, she leaned forward to look up between Actaeon’s legs. Then, followed her inquisitive look with her other hand, reaching up to grab him there. At this, she felt his body begin to shake. She stopped her ministrations to sit back and just watch him. His breathing slowed and he regained control of himself only to find Artemis smugly staring at him, her hands tucked demurely in her lap.
Relaxing down into the water of the spring, folding his legs up to rest between hers, he lifted first one leg over his shoulder, then the other. She slipped deeper into the water. Her back curved to accommodate the unusual position, spread wide and open to him. Her breasts floated on the top of the water enticingly. Unable to refrain from fulfilling his earlier promise, he reached forward just as she had done to his cock and tickled her nipple. His other hand glided beneath the water and along her slit. The truncated squeal from his goddess surprised him, and he stilled both fingers. The speed with which she enveloped his wrist underwater wit h her own hand was amazing, as was the flare of erupting climax building in the searing glare she gave him. He understood just how close she was, he wasn’t too far off himself. With her fist still around his wrist, he began to stroke her again, this time rougher, harder, and faster, building more pressure within her with each caress against her clit. Her squeal became a moan, then a shrill cry, at first silently, mouth opened wide and head thrown back. But, when Actaeon pressed his thumb against her hardened and engorged clit as he simultaneously plunged his middle finger into her welcoming, slick womb, she let loose and the cry echoed in the treetops. His one finger was followed by another and a third. He kept his thumb flicking her clit in counterpoint to the thrusts of his fingers. Artemis’ breasts caused ripples on the water’s surface as her body vibrated with her climbing climax. The shrill cry died slowly as her heart beat faster and her blood began to sing for her. She was so close!
Actaeon’s other hand seized his own cock and he began to pleasure himself with each stroke in tune with his thrusts into Artemis. Before long, both bodies were strung so tight, they had to break. Her orgasm struck her so hard, she lifted her body from the rock shelf she was sitting on and curled her body back into herself, wrenching Actaeon’s fingers from between her nether lips. Actaeon’s own body convulsed backward from her, slamming into the wall of smoothed rock he had been braced against, his cock seizing and spurting into the spring’s moistness.
Actaeon turned at the soft question, his voice stilling in his throat at the sight of seven barely covered nymphs, all with bows raised and arrows cocked. His heart, their target. Artemis raised her own eyes from behind dewy lids to see her huntresses waiting on her.
“Goddess… He is a man!” Crocale, hissed. Her expression was sure and harsh, not judging the goddess, but the man before her. At that moment, Artemis saw herself from their perspective. Of course, they wouldn’t believe that she had welcomed this man into her spring nor given herself so freely. Hunched over as she was, still recovering from the ecstasy coursing in her veins, it would appear she was injured. That Actaeon had tried to taken advantage of her relaxation and when she fought back, had attacked her. She could not have planned it better, actually.
“Hold back, maidens. I will handle this.” Artemis seized the confusion. He had kept his promise, she was still a virgin, and no one would know what had happened here. She sat back in the water and cupping her hands beneath the water, she lifted her hands to let the spring’s blessed liquid fall in a cascade down upon the head of Actaeon. His bewildered expression, part shock, part fading passion, washed away with the stream.
“Feel free to tell others of what you have accomplished today, hunter, seeing me like this. That is, if you can find the words.”
Right before their eyes, Artemis and her hunter-maids watched as Actaeon’s face elongated and narrowed. His forehead sprouted antlers. His ears stretched out and began twitching as he registered the sounds of other animals from the forest surrounding the her sacred spring. His neck grew and his shoulders rotated back, flattening against his ribs. He scrambled from the water as his legs started to itch and the hair there to grow and redden. On all fours, he tried to crawl away as his body and organ morphed. He emitted a sound not quite human, more bleating though still deep and masculine. The nymphs dropped their bows, their arrows falling to the soft grass of the glade. They stepped back as Actaeon came closer. He reached out with his hands, cloven hooves already splitting his fingers, for help. None came.
Standing a full six feet tall at the shoulder, his coat gleaming with a red-golden aura, his antlers seemed to reach the heavens and embrace it. Actaeon, the stag, was as impressive in this form as he was as a man. Artemis smiled at him.
“You better run, hunter. For if my nymphs have awakened, so have your hounds.”
* * *
Unused to his new limbs, Actaeon’s attempt to flee his hounds, either by speed or by cunning, was destined to fail. While his hounds had been far behind him, only just waking from their mid-day doze, they still outflanked their master easily. His panic and uncertainty made it a simple task for the hounds to drive him into a trap. The high rise of a cliff blocked his escape one direction, a deep fall into the river, the other direction. Fifty hounds, trained by him, spread out in the woods. Crouching, their bays became growls as they slunk closer and closer to their master. Actaeon fell to his knees, as it were, hunkered low to the ground, and swung his wordless head from side to side, groaning and begging his hounds to back off. He made noises which no human nor any stag has ever uttered. For no one has ever been this desperate in all the ages before or since.
The hounds did not care about the strange behavior of their prey or the curious noises. Closer and closer they came. It was his favored male who made the first injury, leaping and latching with strong jaws upon Actaeon’s neck. Next, his prized female, who slipped beneath him and reached up to bite without remorse or hesitation his flank. Crippled thus, his other dogs attacked as eagerly. They surrounded him on every side, sinking their jaws into his flesh, tearing free pieces of their master.
Hidden in the forest, dressed in her finest sheath, bow draped over her shoulder, a golden diadem resting on her dark chestnut hair, Artemis watched it all.