A/N - April, you are the bright sunshiny spots of my day. Your humor uplifts and your talent astounds. I celebrate you and our friendship, for you are CHERISHED.

Thanks to Vi for your beta magic. You kept us all in line and inspired. Bless you.

Love's Absolution

by

RowanMoon

The commune of Delphi slumbered soundly as the Apollonian Priest Aro stole across the dimly lit courtyard like a thief in the night. Crouching in the shadows he made his way to the Oracle's sleeping quarters. His greed in furthering his own political means had escalated to a point where he could not leave the poor virgin Alis any peace, waking her at all hours of the night, keeping her in a drug-induced stupor so she was forced to use her gifts to further his Machiavellian machinations. No Oracle, each also referred to as The Pythoness, before Alis was more accurate in her visions and proclamations, and Aro made it his mission to make sure they were used to his advantage.

Creeping past the dozing guards, Tzaspr and Emet, Aro pulled back the gauzy veils surrounding the Pythoness's bed. The young ebony haired woman was curled around the array of silken pillows, her waifish frame rising and falling with the mechanics of a body deep in slumber. He gathered her in his arms like a small child and carried her stealthily to the Chamber of Visions.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tzaspr opened one eye, his entire body tensing as he realized the creepy old bastard was up to it again. This had to stop, but the old priest was too powerful, too slippery to corner. Tzaspr had been the Oracle Alis's guard for a few months now, and was surprised at the murder that raged through his veins when he thought of that slimy son of a bitch taking advantage of his... love. He loved this woman. But it would never be. She was forbidden. An Oracle. In order for her to remain the Oracle, she needed to remain a virgin. She would not remain a virgin long if she was his.

He waited until Aro had made his way to the Chamber before he followed, pressing himself along the cave wall so as not to be seen. He needed to make sure she was safe... that he didn't overdose her. Again.

A few weeks ago the evil priest had given her too much of the opiates, and she had nearly died in the baths. Her attendant Rozali had slipped out with Emet for an intimate encounter, while the dazed and innured Alis was bathing in the sulphuric springs. When Tzaspr showed up after his rounds of the property, she was face down floating in the water like a drowned dryad. Her black hair was floating in serpentine strands, the only life evident in her motionless, prone form. Her skin, a white luminescent shell in the aquamarine blue haze of the water, made his breath hitch. She was beautiful even as she teetered on the edges of Oblivion. Tzaspr lept into the pool, the thick churns of water around his legs punctuating the agony of not being able to move swiftly through the shallow body of water to get to her sooner. His heart pounded in his throat as he pulled her to rock ledge of the grotto, his mind panicking that it was too late as he postitioned her airway to breath life into her body.

Sputters and shudders wracked her form as water spewed from her blue lips. Terrified eyes locked on his, softening with the realization she was saved.

"Tzaspr."

Her blessed, delicate voice uttering his name, the blackened hollows of her eyes showing trust and relief, snatched his cold warrior heart by the roots and tugged, leaving him breathless and staggered.

He removed his cloak to wrap around her as she coughed and shivered against him. Anger welled hot and furious at the way this innocent angelic creature was treated. She was a gift, a direct conduit to the Gods themselves, yet she was being used as nothing more than a tool. Treated as a non-entity.

This was a woman who deserved to be worshipped. Not enslaved and drugged.

He needed to get her away from this place.

*~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *

"I need to get away from this place" was her first thought when Alis found herself sitting on the tripod seat, staring into the navel, the omphalos of the earth. Peering into the swirling noxious fumes that existed deep within the bowels of the cavern, Alis cleared her mind to prepare for the onslaught the visions brought unto her. There were times the gases below were red and angry, their messages landing with a venomous bite to her mind, weakening her will and strength to keep from going insane. Nearly all of the Pythonesses before her went mad. Walking the tightrope of Time can weaken the mind's sense of reality. Are we but shadows on the wall Plato proposed. Or will propose. I can' remember which. Does it matter?

Fear threatened her again and she exhaled slowly, snaking a quick glance to the rock ledge below, where Aro awaited her proclamations with an eager quill. The madness in his eyes was resolute and a chill went through her spine. He gained from her the knowledge of where new civilizations would be built, what wars would be won and how. Powerful information to ransom to men of power and wealth. She shut out the images of her Keeper with visions of her Protector, her love, Tzaspr.

She pictured Tzaspr as Apollo, about to slay the demon serpent Python on this very spot, eons ago. Lunging and bobbing with the hellish creature, the young beautiful god slew the beast, throwing it down the fissure that led to the center of the earth. It is said the gases the Pythoness inhaled which swirled in irridescent multicolored mists were emitted from Python's eternally decomposing body at the bottom of the world.

Her stomach lurched and she tried not to vomit the partially digested remains of her supper into the sacred site. Recovering quickly she caught a glimpse of Tzaspr crouching along the walls of the cave. She gave herself over to the vision, knowing Apollo would protect her on the Astral plane while Tzaspr protected her on the Corporeal.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Tzaspr was unable to stomach his love and adulation in the sway of forced prophecy. Sneaking back to his post he was relieved and dismayed to see Emet had not stirred. Slipping beside him, he feigned sleep when he heard the approaching footsteps of Aro carrying Alis.

After listening to the rustle of silk as the spider placed the fly back into her nest, Tzaspr gathered his strength to stay put until the fiend had disappeared into the blackness of night. With nary a sound, he stole into the sleeping quarters of the fragile Pythoness, biting back the urge to wrap his body around her to protect and shelter her in the most possessive way possible. He knelt beside her in reverence. He burned with the need to take this woman as his, but felt too unworthy to do so. She was a blessed virgin. The Oracle. She was sacred.

He breathed in her scent of cinnamon and cloves, vanilla notes rising as he inched closer to her skin, unable to resist. Concentrating on keeping his eyes from rolling into the back of his head, he peered intently into hers when, to the surprise of them both, they fluttered open.

The mercurial haze of green and gold in his eyes was at first startled, then concern deepened them as she observed him silently. He is so close. Tzaspr is here. I am safe. She sighed deeply and reached for him, brushing a limp finger gently across his strong jawline.

"My protector. My love."

Her light touch, coupled with whispered sacred oaths of love sparked and kindled Tzaspr's body into a flaming fury of need. As her fingers traced feathery trails along the battle scars slicing across the skin of his forearms and chest, he barely managed to suppress a light shiver. Sinking down into her soft nest of brightly colored pillows she smiled lazily as she wrapped warm languid arms around his back. She simply melted into him becoming liquid need, a flash flood of drowning desire rushed over his skin as he nuzzled and nipped the delicate aromatic skin at her neck.

"I knew you would come to me eventually," Alis sighed as she nuzzled into his love bites. This portent of their joining was not a vision, but a knowing she felt within her body. She felt it that day he pulled her from the water, saving her from drowning. He made her feel life again. Hope. There was a powerful hum in the air when this man was near her. She would not forsake him in this moment of lust and need, she would join in gladly; losing then finding herself in his touch. How she had longed for his touch.

His weight pushed against her, insistant, rippling with urgency to be near her, to cover her, pull her close. Tzaspr wanted to touch every inch of her skin with his hands, his lips, his tongue. Pulling the tender lobe of her ear gently between his teeth he whispered huskily,

"Come away with me."

"Yes," she whispered back. Threading her hands into his curly blonde locks, she found his lips and kissed him deeply, sealing their bond. She would leave this place with him. Be his. Bear his children. Live a life she never thought possible for her. A tear of happiness trickled down her cheek, he wiped it away with a calloused thumb.

"Are you sure?" his voice held concern yet his eyes were full of hope and need for her to come with him.

"I have uttered thousands of prophecies. Words I feel in my very bones to be true. Kings have lost and won continents over the visions I am given by Apollo. I have never been more sure of something in all my life. I belong with you."

Crushing her to him, his heart soared with happiness never known to him before this moment. He covered her in kisses, her body warm and pliant beneath him.

"Take me, Tzaspr. I want be relieved of my maidenhead before I go with you. If I am no longer a virgin, I am no longer Apollo's vessel. I will be free, leaving it all behind me."

Pain flashed across his eyes for a brief moment as he realized the severity of the gift she was giving to him. Gathering Alis in his strong arms, he sighed across her heated skin,

"As you wish."

His fingers trembled as he caressed her. His nerves threatened to overtake him rendering him unable to perform. He desperately wanted this moment to be perfect. Painless for her. She reached for him, wrapped her fingers around his and brought them to her silken sex.

"It's as it should be. I know you will not harm me."

With a groan he slid a finger slowly into her. She gasped and writhed beneath him, rocking her hips to encourage his infiltration of her body. Pumping in and out of her with deliciously slow careful thrusts, he increased to two fingers and curled inwards. A violent turn of her head as she bit down on a pillow to stifle her screams of ecstasy made him feel a throb of satisfaction deep in his gut knowing he had brought her over the edge.

Tzaspr insinuated his thick muscular thigh between her legs to spread her wider and settled over Alis's body, careful to keep his weight off her. The strength and heat of this large muscle between her legs made Alis flush with flame pulsing from her center. Their hearts pounded in their chest as the length of his hard sex pushed against her. Every cell in their bodies screamed to be joined. Pressed together in the love bond of male and female. Knife and Cup. Earth and Sky. God and Goddess.

Sliding ever so gently into her wet tight embrace, Tzaspr sobbed with the relief and splendor of his body joined to hers. Deepening his drive into her soft body she pulled him tightly against her and breathed against his chest,

"Beautiful."

Pushing until he reached her barrier, he increased the pressure until her bonds were broken. A sharp ache of pain blossomed then morphed into pleasure as she focused on him moaning his devotion and revelry of her flesh. She blissfully gave in to the rhythmic increase in urgency of his thrust. A tidal wave of euphoria washed over her body as he brought her again to climax, their bodies gliding and sliding against each other in a primal dance. His hips jerked eratically against her as he came, plunging her depths to the hilt, he wanted to lose himself in her, in this perfect moment of love and fulfillment.

Withdrawing carefully from her he rolled over to the side, positioning himself snugly against her spent body. Against his better judgement, knowing they should flee before they were caught, he allowed them an hour to bask in the afterglow of their lovemaking. He assured her he would protect her and show her a beautiful life.

Before the fingers of dawn breaking crept across the floor of her quarters, they were gone, the empty space they left behind filled with the howling rage of Aro.

~Fin~