Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Star Talker: Part 36: Demon Spawn

The server returned carrying a platter of kofta, ful medames, couscous, and more pita bread. I piled a bit of each onto my plate, feeling a bit more settled after listening to Rha’han’s history.

“How did you end up on Lo’Rah, then?” I said, taking a bite of kofta. It was both familiar and not. I had had kofta before, but this was likely made from the meat of a native animal rather than any animal I knew.

Rha’han filled his own plate before continuing. “When I was born, I was hailed as an incarnation of a god called Vishnu because of my four arms and gold dusted skin.” 

I nodded. “I’m familiar with Vishnu.”

He took a bite of food. “Right. Well, Lo’Rahni babies don’t look much different from human ones at birth, aside from the extra arms. Lo’Rahni also aren’t well known outside of the diplomatic summits, or weren’t, anyway. My mother was hailed as the bearer of a god.” He gestured broadly with his hands, affecting an imperious tone. 

“We were given a nice house and all the material goods we might need. Much of my early childhood was spent being taught by priests and listening to my mother tell stories about my father, the great Raja from beyond the stars who gifted her with a child. I think she believed my father was an avatar of Vishnu.” He took a bite of his food, a slight frown creasing his brow. 

“When I was about seven, I suppose, my horns started growing in. It concerned the priests. They began to think I was a demon’s spawn instead of a godchild. They wanted to kill me.” A sadness creeped into his eyes then, as if it were something he had not thought about in a long time. “So she left to find a way to contact her old employer. By the time she found him, my horns had grown in enough that it was obvious enough who had fathered me. The diplomat knew I was neither god nor demon, just the simple byblow of a careless prince who gave little thought for the women he used.”

He snorted. “It’s a wonder really, that I’m the only one. I assume I’m the only one, anyway. I think he usually dallies with women he can’t actually breed with.” He stabbed at the kofta with a fork. “The diplomat got in contact with the embassy here, trying to get a hold of my father to, you know, let him know I existed. He...did not want to have anything to do with me, his marriage being somewhat strained as it was. But Amrach was there when he received the news...and the photos. Hard to deny me when I looked identical to Amrach as a child.”

He looked up at me with a sad smile. “I am here by the grace of my uncle and whatever god you believe is watching. Ta’riima has never quite gotten over the fact that I’m Ashrad’s first born, even if I am illegitimate. She has never wanted to so much as look at me. I was basically kept out of sight with the servants and slaves until I was old enough to put in the barracks for military schooling.”

“And your name?”

“Oh, that. It was changed when I was registered as a Klotharan citizen to be more...well...Klotharan. It wasn’t too hard to get used to. They aren’t that different.” 

He seemed not to care about it, but I wondered if that was true. I had also been ripped away from everything I knew at a young age, by the same man, even. But he hadn’t taken my name from me. I had the faintest memory of him trying, but a boy named Ka’iir, my only real friend on the ship, had said he liked my name, and Ashrad had dropped the subject. 

“Do you know anyone named Ka’iir?” I asked, wondering what had become of the boy I’d once known. 

Rha’han stiffened, the cup of tea freezing halfway to his lips. “I do,” he said carefully. “Why do you ask?”

“You talking about your name change just made me remember my time on the ship. Ka’iir and I used to play together when we managed to hide from the tutors.” I noticed his jaw tense up, as if he were grinding his teeth.

He carefully set his cup down, licking his lips with seeming reluctance. “Ka’iir is my eldest younger brother.” 

“Oh! That’s good. I can see how he’s doing then. I’ve never had brothers before. Perhaps I can steal yours.” I flashed him a benign smile. He relaxed noticeably, but I could still see a bit of tension in his jaw. 

I took a bite of the kofta, watching him carefully as I chewed. “So, your mother tongue is Hindi?”

He blinked, seemingly surprised by the change of subject. “Um, no. Bengali, actually.”

“Really? I don’t speak that one. Can you teach me?”

His eyebrows rose. “Uh, I really haven’t had much reason to speak it for the last few decades, so I’m sure I’m a bit rusty. I do have a few books in my study written in it though, so I suppose I could attempt to walk you through them.”

“Wonderful!” I said, genuinely excited. “It’s been a couple years since I’ve had the opportunity to play with a new language.”

Rha’han opened his mouth to speak, but his words were cut off by the sudden sound of music filling the restaurant.

Wicked Wednesday

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Star Talker: Part 35: Rohan

Khan El Khalili

Zeinab dragged me enthusiastically down the promenade, my short legs struggling to keep up with her. Rha’han strode casually after us, smiling slightly at my frantic glances back at him. Soon enough, I was pulled through a curiously familiar archway into the depths of the Khan el Khalili restaurant. Much like its proprietor, the interior was a colorful assault on the eyes. Colored glass lanterns hung from the ceiling, filling the room with warm red and green and blue light. The walls were seemingly made of polished limestone bricks. Intricately carved archways characteristic of ancient Islamic architecture separated the various dining rooms. The tables were low to the ground, set with shining, golden plates on runners of rich fabrics. Lining the walls were bits and baubles one might see at such a market. Egyptian tent fabric, tapestries, arrays of glittering jewelry, and swathes of delicately woven scarves hung in artfully arranged stalls. I half wondered if they were actually for sale.

Zeinab brought us to a smaller table near an open space in the floor and bid us sit on the poofy cushions arranged around the table. The centerpiece was a simple polished metal plate filled with sand with three lit pillar candles sitting in the center. I peered at the flickering flames with fascination, waving my fingers over them to feel the ambient heat. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen a real candle, open flames having been forbidden on the Centauri stations. 

“A front row seat for the show!” Zeinab said, waving at the table enthusiastically. “You are lucky,” she said, looking down at me. “I have had all the traditional spices brought from Al-Gizah Al-Jadida. It is not quite the same, perhaps, but it is a taste of home.” She clasped her hands together with excitement and jingled away in a swirl of colorful silk.

I continued to idly play with the candlelight as I looked around, taking in all the details of the room around me. Rha’han stared at me with his intense golden gaze, an unreadable look on his face. 

“You’ll burn yourself if you’re not careful,” he said, a slight smile tugging at his lips. 

I lowered my fingers closer to the fire and wiggled my fingers through the flame, arching an eyebrow. 

“Like fire, do you?”

I shrugged, pulling my hand back into my lap, the light burn seeping into my skin. “Maybe.”

His eyes flashed with heat. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

A server in a royal blue galabeya approached the table with a pitcher and cups on a tray. She knelt down on a narrow cushion and placed a cup in front of each of us. She took the pitcher and poured each of us a drink before setting it between us and floating away. 

I picked up the cup and held it up to my nose. The crisp scent of mint hit me with surprise. I took a sip, nearly moaning at the taste of sweet mint tea. It tasted as if someone had dropped a sweet peppermint into the tea. I almost inhaled the first glass before carefully pouring another. 

Rha’han chuckled, looking at me with amusement over the rim of his cup. “Thirsty?”

“Yes, actually,” I said, suddenly feeling parched. “I did argue with your uncle for a few hours.”

His smile faded and his brow furrowed. “Yes. I will say, I am not a fan of your plan.” 

I took a long gulp of tea. “You’ll be less of a fan tomorrow, I expect. But let’s not worry about it right now.” 

His eyes narrowed with suspicion. “Should I be concerned?”

“I suppose you’ll have to find out tomorrow. Oh look! Food.” I took another nervous gulp as the same server approached with a bowl of hummus and a plate of triangles of pita bread and a selection of julienned Lo’Rahni vegetables.  

I plucked an unfamiliar purplish vegetable from the plate, examining it briefly before dipping it in the hummus and taking an experimental bite. It was crisp and slightly sweet, an unfamiliar but not entirely unpleasant flavor. I peered at it again.

“What is this?”

“Chariin. It’s a root vegetable. I prefer it cooked, personally.” He looked over the plate. “These are all root vegetables, actually. Chariin is the purple. This pale one is gudeshi, and the yellow is drakh. I don’t know what this orange one is.”

I picked up one of the orange sticks and took a bite. “Oh! It’s a carrot. We were growing these in Bassir.”

The bite of carrot turned sour in my mouth as I thought of the facility and Guillaume, the botanist, whose dead body I’d seen on the cameras not yet three days ago. I put the carrot down, and spit the partially chewed bite into a napkin. Swallowing down a rush of bile in the back of my throat, I took a few deep breaths and a sip of the mint tea, to force back the sudden nausea.

Rha’han wordlessly scooped up the pile of carrots and stashed them away somewhere out of sight. “My mother was Terran, you know,” he said quickly, but in a casual tone. 

“What?” I said, taking another long gulp of tea. 

“I’m half Terran. My mother’s name was Radhika. My father was...well, is, a promiscuous sort. He had many women of various races over the years. When he married Ta’riima, he wasn’t prepared to give that up. I imagine he still hasn’t. My mother was a servant of one of the other diplomats, not well off, by any means, but well-provided for by her employer.” He set the plate of pita bread in front of me and refilled my glass of tea. I took a piece and nibbled on it, trying to calm my stomach. 

“Being of a lower caste, she thought the attentions of a Fahim would eventually elevate her, but my father was already married when they met. She didn’t know that, of course. He always kept Ta’riima fairly isolated when she was with him on the ship. Ta’riima eventually found out about the affair and made a huge fuss about it. She got her entire family involved. My father was recalled, and my mother was left pregnant with me.” 

“So you weren’t born on Lo’Rah?”

Rha’han chuckled a bit. “No. I didn’t even learn to speak Klotharan until I was about nine. I was born in some hovel on a planet called Sudarshan somewhere in the Terran Expansion. Her employer had dismissed her when he found out she was pregnant and unwed. She named me Rohan.”

Wicked Wednesday

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Star Talker: Part 34: Zeinab

Photo by
Desert Winds Photography
The atmosphere on this tier couldn’t have been more different than the one we had just left. People milled about, laughing and talking. The clothes were of similar cuts, but lacked the excessive gaudy ornamentation. There were more uniforms and tool belts. Men had shorter hair or had their braids pulled back into queues or thicker braids. Several of the women had shorter dresses with fitted trousers beneath them, their hair tied up into fashionable knots with colorful ribbons woven through them. There were far fewer Lo’Rahni women on this tier. Or fewer who weren’t obviously mixed species. Branded women of various humanoid species moved in and out of shops and other businesses, escorted by male relatives or a slave walking a subtle number of steps behind them. 

No one here avoided Rha’han or threw him dirty looks. Several men stopped to greet him, and even a few women. The men didn’t acknowledge my presence until Rha’han introduced her. The women eyed me curiously. One stopped to greet him, but once she saw the brand on my chest she squealed and scurried off back the way she came. 

A few minutes later, the distinct sound of jingling announced a new figure walking quickly forward. I could only assume the magnificent woman before me was Zeinab. She was a full head taller than me, her stark brown eyes alight with delight. She wore a flowing caftan in a riot of color with traditional Islamic designs embroidered in gold on the silky fabric. Her hair was wrapped in an emerald tarheel scarf, topped with a headdress of golden payal bells. Large crescent moons stamped with calligraphy dangled from her ears, forcing her to keep her head lifted, emphasizing her elegant posture. Around her neck, she wore a traditional kirdan dowry necklace, with little coins draping from the downward turned crescents. Her wrists were heavy with jewel-encrusted bangles, and her caftan was just short enough to reveal the thick kholkhal of a married woman around her ankles above her soft gold-embroidered slippers that were the same color as her head scarf. 

Photo by Issam Barhoumi
She stopped abruptly in front of them, a small female slave of some species I’d never seen before standing a handful of paces behind her. Her gaze lit upon me and she squealed happily, catching me by the shoulders and pulling me into a hug. 

“Yes, yes!” She said in thickly accented Klotharan, kissing my cheek. “Sufiya said Rha’han had taken a wife! I did not believe her, you see. We feared he would be alone forever. We are very happy for him. You are very beautiful. He has done good with you.”

I blinked, a bit overwhelmed by her effusiveness. 

“Hello, Zeinab,” Rha’han said flatly. 

“Rha’han!” She said sharply, smacking his shoulder lightly with the back of her hand. “Why you not tell us about her?”

“I…” he started a bit helplessly.

Because he only met me two days ago,” I said in Arabic. 

“Two days? What did you do? Buy her at a market?” Suddenly, Zeinab seemed to realize that I hadn’t spoken Klotharan and her gaze whipped back to me in surprise. “You are Masriyat?”

I smiled. “Aiwa.”

Her smile widened, if that were possible, as she looked me up and down and back to Rha’han. “Beautiful and Masriyat?” She smacked his shoulder again. “Il-hamdu lilleh! You have outdone yourself, Rha’han.”

She snatched up my hands and pulled me in the direction from which she had come. “Come! Come, habibti! I shall give you a wedding feast!”   

Wicked Wednesday

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

In Which my Demi Ass Finds a Woman Attractive

I've been talking a lot about sexuality, or sexual orientation, recently. More than I ever have in the past on this blog. Although, I suppose I never had a reason to, having considered myself exclusively straight for most of my life, aside from the brief period when I first joined the kink community where I received a lot of outside pressure to be bisexual. 

Even though I have discovered the ace spectrum and the demisexual label, I still feel a lot of conflict when entering those spaces, because I am heteroromantic. I always feel a touch of that impostor syndrome, like at any moment, a hoard of rabid rainbows are gonna charge in and throw me out the door. 

But the more I think about my sexuality, the more I start to pick out pieces that seem to deviate from societal norms. I mean, I've been kinky for as long as I've been sexually aware, so I guess I've always deviated from the norm. 

Aside from the bi peer pressure early on, I've never felt any real attraction aesthetic or otherwise towards women. I mean, I can recognize physical beauty, but more in the way one appreciates a nice piece of art. A platonic sort of beauty. Because, when it comes down to it, my aesthetic attraction is fully centered on the masculine. I often say I have a hypermasculinity kink. I like those traditionally masculine characteristics. Beards, height, superior strength, body hair. The social characteristics traditionally attributed to the masculine gender. Protectiveness, dominance, confident strength. It's really hard to describe, because obviously these aren't exclusively masculine traits, but I'm not exactly sure how to describe it.

With that said, it makes sense that I've never been interested in a woman as a potential romantic partner. I enjoy participating in femininity, but it doesn't excite me romantically or sexually. I've never really vibed with most female doms. There is an inherent difference in feminine versus masculine dominance in my mind. I have always found myself put off by more feminine styles of dominance and never really understood why. 

This weekend, I was able to finally binge The Mandalorian, and I found myself intrigued by the character of Cara Dune. I remember initially thinking I liked how...I don't know, sturdy? she looked. She has a very strong build, and it's not something I've seen in many shows. By the end of season two, I'm like, yeah, no, I think she's attractive. Which I can't say is a thought I've really had before about a woman, except maybe Xena back in my "everyone says you're bi" days. 

I looked up the actress, and found out she is a mixed martial artist. Okay, yeah. Yep. That makes sense. I've always had a thing for fighters. I also found out she's apparently a MAGAt and a covidiot, so that's exceptionally disappointing. So I'll have to contain my appreciation to the character and not the actress, but it was strange to have the "they're attractive" thought about a woman when I haven't before.

Of course, here's where the ace brain pops up. I have a complicated relationship with genitalia. Sexually speaking, I'm mildly repulsed by both sets of genitalia. My attraction has never actually been attached to bits. I think at this point, my heteroromantic nature is largely attached to the fact that I find dicks somewhat less repulsive sexually than vulvae. 

Which is odd, because I'm more comfortable looking at random vulvae than penises, but I attribute that mostly to the fact that I personally have a vulva. But when it comes down to it, even though I don't like oral sex in the first place, I am for some reason more willing to have a penis in my mouth than a vulva. 

Basically, sexuality is weird. 

And apparently the character of Cara Dune in Mandalorian fits my rubric for aesthetic attraction. 

What a weird way to turn 30. 


Wicked Wednesday

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Ace Until Proven Guilty

 This year has been a weird one on the sexuality front for me. I've never really had cause to question my sexuality, aside from my first days in the kink community as a young newbie submissive, when every dom I talked to tried to convince me I was bisexual. Newsfash, I'm not. Of course, at the time and for most of my life, I've considered myself to be straight, despite my general ambivalence and sometimes distaste for the male sexual organ. 

I didn't have my first sexual encounter until I was deep into 19, which involved kink and sexual activities, although not sex itself. I didn't have sex for the first time until a week before my 20th birthday. And, well, it was pretty awful, if I can be completely honest. But, as a virgin who'd never even dated, I didn't really know what to expect beyond the unrealistic fantasies of my romance novels, which my first relationship spectacularly failed to live up to. 

Last year, I began to realize that I was most likely demisexual, an idea suggested by some of my friends in the sex blogging community based on how I described sexual fantasies. i.e. my masturbatory musings never include actual people. They are always about sexual acts with faceless actors or scenarios between characters I have written. It explained a lot. My utter inability to engage in casual sex. My painfully monogamous nature. The fact that I never dated or found anyone I even wanted to date in high school. The fact that I've only had 3 sexual partners ever.

Although, I wasn't aware at the time that I initially took on this label that it was on the asexual spectrum. Asexuality never really occurred to me, because I have a libido. I like reading about sex, writing about sex, and I mostly enjoy having sex. 

I know I am capable of experiencing sexual attraction. I did with my second partner. But, it didn't really occur to me until after I ended my most recent relationship, that my previous partner was the only partner I'd experienced actual sexual attraction to. 

I had never really noticed because it's sometimes rather difficult to separate sexual and romantic attraction. Trying to parse my first relationship is all but impossible due to the emotionally abusive nature of it. 

It wasn't until my most recent relationship that I began to really consider the asexual aspect. I liked him. I found him visually appealing. I was comfortable enough to engage in sex with him, although that emotional bond never really took hold. But I found myself no longer enjoying sex (although part of it was physical incompatibility). In fact, I was almost dreading it. When we did have sex, I was never really able to be in the moment. I often found my mind wandering to completely random shit, or just general navel gazing. I felt bad about this. It feels rude to not be able to focus on your partner while engaging in intimacy. 

So, I hopped into the asexual subreddits to try and figure some of this shit out. Because, maybe I was more asexual than I thought?

But how could I be ace? I mean, I like sex. I think. Well, I like all the stuff that leads up to sex. I can write sex like a boss. I get horny. I know I like men. I mean, I can only really say I've experienced true sexual attraction twice in my life (meaning with two men, not two specific instances).

Oh, sexual and romantic attraction are different? 



So now the concept of a heteroromantic demisexual starts to form. But what does that really mean?  It was a comic post on r/lgballt that really hit it home for me. I can't find it right now or I'd share it but it basically explained demisexuality as being asexual until you develop a strong emotional bond. Which I mean, is basically just the definition of demisexual, but I'd never really seen it put in those terms before. Ace terms. 

I am romantically attracted to men, and romantic attraction is so intertwined with sexual attraction for me, that the rare instances I experience sexual attraction will be toward men, because I won't develop a romantic bond with a woman. But the vast majority of the time, I'm not attracted to anyone. 

And now that we've had that revelation, so many things make sense now. I'm not picky. I'm not a prude. I'm not broken. I'm just fucking asexual 95% of the time.