Artemis 9: Part 8
Dr Sylvanus led the way as I kept asking questions in hopes of finding the real reason we were here, “How is she just now seeing her room if she was here before me?”
“Her highness refused to exit the craft until the very moment you landed,” the doctor said as we turned a corner, “she insisted we were trying to kill her so she crawled into an air duct and slept there. We assured her that we were not going to harm her but she didn’t budge until she felt your presence arrive.”
“Yeah she mentioned that. How can she feel comfort in my presence if she’s never met me before?” I asked as we walked past several wooden doors with strange names on them.
“Stars from the same seed are comparable to twin Earth humans of the same womb. With stars though, their relationship is often so mysteriously close that some believe they can see through each other’s eyes or even experience each other’s pain.”
“It can also be greatly beneficial to saving a desperate planet on the verge of annihilation from an invading enemy,” Sylvanus said and stopped in front of a set of double doors made of heavy oak.
Amethyst door handles. What the hell is with all the amethyst?
It’s supposed to help.
As the doors opened and my eyes adjusted to the new light, I felt like I’d fallen even further into a dream.
About a hundred candles flickered softly and gave the huge, marble room a warm, sensual glow.
In the center of the room was a great, crystal bath filled with steaming water. My nostrils filled with the smell of various scented oils and budding flowers that drifted atop the water’s surface.
All of it made the air thick with smells of rosemary, lavender, jasmine, and roses.
“Good gods these folks really love not being able to smell their own asses don’t they?” I said, cringing as I realized that I had said this aloud.
Dr Sylvanus smirked and replied, “Actually it’s YOUR asses we don’t desire to smell.”
Pleasantly surprised by her candor I quipped, “Fair enough. I smell like desert, space metal, and sweat. Flowers and oils should cover it.”
Sylvanus laughed, “Enough to tolerate the smell. Once you’ve bathed thoroughly, your majesty, the royal robes placed upon your bed would be most desirable to meet with your father.”
“Thanks, Doc,” I smiled, “Hey, Doc?”
“Yes, your highness?”
“What’s he like?…this guy we’re meeting, I mean.”
“If he’s anything like he was the last time, then he’s the greatest man I’ve ever known.”
“Oh. Sure. No pressure then, right?” I joked.
Dr Sylvanus smirked again and started to leave, “if you should need anything, your majesty, Astaria awaits just outside this door.”
As the doors closed behind her, I began to disrobe.
The room had blossoming vines hanging from the buttresses and an enormously plush bed that I really wanted to take a nap in.
The crystal bath sparkled in the light of the candle flames as I stepped into the hot, fragrant water.
The slight sting of the steaming water made my skin tingle as I submerged myself.
Oh gods this feels amazing.
I bathed for a while, enjoying the feeling of the water and the intoxicating smell of the oils.
Yeah, this is way better than the desert.
Are you enjoying yourself?
Well I was until I remembered you’re still in here.
As I stepped out of the bath I realized-
There’s no towel.
Yogal ensured me that your towel was on the bed.
I looked around and found nothing but the clean, delicate robes splayed upon the bed. I started to panic.
It’s not here.
Astaria opened the door and walked in holding a towel, “Yogal said she meant to leave it but forgot-“ they stopped in mid sentence when they saw me standing naked by the bed. Quickly, they tried to avert their eyes.
“You know, just barging in was probably a bad idea. Unless that’s what you wanted to do..” I said playfully as they turned away embarrassed, the towel outstretched.
I may be neither man nor woman but I know that my body isn’t bad looking, so I wasn’t embarrassed when Astaria saw me.
Reflecting now I think part of me wanted them to see me. I couldn’t really tell you at the time, all I knew then was that I hadn’t had sex in nearly three years and for the first time I was naked in front of an extremely attractive person. So I rolled with it.
“My most sincere apologies, your majesty,” Astaria said as they unconsciously glanced at me again, “I forgot you may be… uh-“
The water and oil mixture dripped down my soft skin, tracing my body slowly in the dancing light of the candles. I spoke gently, “Entirely naked? Yes, I’m sure the fact that I needed a towel for my bath caused quite some confusion.”
Astaria turned their head to hide a smirk but I saw their reflection in the water, “My most sincere apologies, your highness.”
I took the towel from their outstretched hand and wrapped it around myself, “Well next time if you plan on trying to peek at me, perhaps you shouldn’t make it so painfully obvious.”
Astaria’s ears turned red, “I wasn’t trying to-“
“You may go if you wish. I can dress myself,” I said as I looked at the strange clothing splayed on the bed, “I think…”
“Perhaps I should assist you. I don’t need to look. You can describe the clothes to me and I can guide you,” Astaria said as they turned further away, “If your majesty wishes.”
“Fine. I think this bit is just a robe so I can figure that out myself,” I said as I let the towel drop to the floor. I wasn’t trying to get Astaria to look at me again but I wouldn’t really have minded if they did.
I wouldn’t mind if they did a lot of things-
Uh, your majesty, I can still hear you.
Damn it! Don’t you ever mind your own business? Take Hank Williams’s advice!
I could hear Astaria chuckle as they kept their face to the far wall.
I put on a long, dark robe that was bedazzled with glittering stones in the form of the constellation Orion on the back. The robe split down the front, exposing my naked body to the air, “Is there an under piece to this or anything? I don’t see any buttons.”
“There should be a sash on the bed. Place the right side of the robe over the left side in front of you and then I can help you wrap the sash,” Astaria said, “There is a method in wrapping it properly.”
I closed the robe as they directed, “Come show me this method. I am a visual learner.”
As they turned I noticed their eyes had been looking at my reflection in the bath.
You just can’t help yourself or what?
Astaria blushed, took the sash from the bed, and held it to my right hip, “Hold this here.”
“As you wish,” I said softly while they wrapped their arms (and the sash) around my waist.
Please don’t get that reference, I begged.
“The sash is to be wrapped from the right and it goes snuggly around the waist thrice, then tied here,” they said, placing their finger on my left hip.
“Thank you,” I said as I looked into their eyes.
Those dazzling grey eyes..
They stepped closer to me. As they towered over me slightly, I could sense that they had bathed too. They smelled strongly of sandalwood, sweet oranges, and cinnamon.
Why is everything here so damn intoxicating?
We have to keep up with you.
I blushed and bit my lip as my heart rate began to quicken.
What’s unfair, your majesty?
No matter how much I try, I seem to be powerless against you. As if no matter what you asked of me, I would do it. I don’t trust it.
Then don’t. Perhaps your Earth doctors are right and none of this really exists save for in your mind.
They slowly moved their hands around my waist-
Perhaps you’re just laying in your hospital bed safe and alone. But if that is true, would it feel this real?
The feeling of their hands on my body sent waves of hot, tingling energy through me.
I don’t know. I don’t even think doctors know. All I know is that I don’t ever want you to stop touching me.
So they didn’t.
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