The Sacred Passage (Mound of Gaia Vol. 4)

Anne Stagg
6 mins read
Published about 3 years ago
Chapter 1

The Sacred Passage (Part 1)

There is a world just beyond our own where ancient beings of myth and magic live and breathe. Vera Desailliers, a powerful sorceress, and her lovers, Sam and Evander, must balance their love for each other with their roles as leaders of the Mound of Gaia, the order that has sworn to protect both our world and the Beyond.

Part ONEAn Imposter in the Fold

The Mound of Gaia was an ancient Order. The first High Votaress was appointed by Gaia herself when the ancient ones saw their time passing, and fled the mortal world. They created the Sacred Passage through which only the initiated could travelthose faithful humans who were willing to live among the older gods in the Beyond. The women and men who went kept the old ways alive. The Olympians followed and soon mortals ceased to listen to the earth and her elements, but just because the uninitiated did not have ears to hear the songs of rock, water, wind, and flame did not mean the singing had stopped. Those chosen to serve the Mound of Gaia still listened. They guarded the Sacred Passage with their lives, creating balance between the uninitiated world and the Beyond, and woe to those who threatened the worlds they protected.

Among the devoted servants of the Mound of Gaia were Oracles. Three women who saw what was, is, and is to come. They soared on the winds of time like eagles, diving and arching along its currents. Theirs was a life of seclusion. Their home, The Sanctuary of the Oracles, was a small rotunda perched among the black pines and cedars on the lip of a gorge that looked down on the Lousios River, where Rhea had first bathed the infant Zeus after his birth.  

Millennia had passed since the first Oracles were chosen. Since then, thousands of women have accepted the cloistered life and served the Mound of Gaia with their visions until old age or illness led them past the veil of death. In all that time, down through the ages, their sight had never failed to identify a threat. 

Until now.

Vera Desailliers stared down into the gorge at the thin blue strip of the Lousios river far below. The sound of rushing water echoed off the rocks and she allowed the song to fill her mind, lulling her into a state of peace. It was a welcome respite, strengthening her resolve to complete the task that had brought her to the Sanctuary of Oracles. It had been less than a day in the uninitiated world since Vera and her lovers had fought off an attempt on Vera’s life, but there in the Beyond four days had already passed. Her bones ached with fatigue, but as the High Votaress of the Order, she could not allow a challenge to the Mound of Gaia’s power to go unanswered.

The sun was bright but there was a chill in the air that pinked the skin of her cheeks and the tip of her nose. She nestled down into the wool scarf wound around her neck and gave thought to how she would address the failure of the Oracles. A massive wolf-hound bounded to her side, the threads of ebony in his silver-grey coat glinting in the sun like polished obsidian. He pushed at her hand with his muzzle and she scratched behind his ear. The dog sniffed around near Vera’s feet and raced off along the cliff’s edge. Vera watched him run, his powerful legs gobbling up distance until he was a speck. She let out a frustrated sigh and jammed her hands back into her pockets, looking back toward the Sanctuary. 

Sofia, the Temple Keeper, emerged from the building and joined Vera at the edge of the gorge. Her face was aged, with lines around her eyes and mouth that had been wrought by both sorrow and joy. She had been appointed Temple Keeper when Vera was a child and, much to Vera’s chagrin, clung to the formality of days long past.  

“My lady, they are ready to receive you,” Sofia bowed with a deference that prompted an eye roll from Vera.

“Someday, I will get you to call me Vera.”

“Perhaps, my lady, but not today.” Sofia’s lips turned upward with a ghost of a smile. 

Vera whistled and the hound came bounding out from among the pines, the air around the animal rippling like a great heat was rising from the ground. The being before them changed midstride, from a beast to a man. A mighty crack split the air and Sam stepped to his place at Vera’s side. The smile Vera offered her Familiar was fond; she loved the delight that he took in the nature of his magic. Sofia was unamused. 

“They say the water of the Lousios is the coldest in the world, but I imagine it would feel like bathing in a hot spring compared to the chill in your eyes, mistress Keeper,” Sam said with a bow and a wink. 

“I am merely unimpressed by your theatrics, master Familiar.” 

Vera clasped her hands together, as if in prayer, “Not today, you two. I’m begging, here. Have a little mercy on me and save the sniping for after we’ve dealt with this shit show?” 

Sam laughed and kissed Vera’s cheek. 

Sofia shook her head, bemused, “Of course, my lady.” 

They entered the Sanctuary together, passing through the outer door into an alcove which served as a receiving area for those seeking the wisdom of the Oracles. A rope of braided gold and green hung by the entrance to the inner chamber. Sofia pulled it and Vera heard the muffled tinkling of chimes coming from somewhere deep within the Sanctuary. Several minutes later there was the sound of soft-soled shoes whispering across the marble floor and the door to the inner chamber opened. The woman who greeted them was at the height of her beauty, her skin was unblemished and her body was lush, the curves of her breasts and hips rounded like ripened fruit.

“My lady, to what do we owe the honor of your presence.” 

“Sister Delphina, there is a matter of great importance that we need to discuss. Please gather your Sisters and meet us in the inner chamber at once,” 

Sister Delphina heard the urgency in Vera’s order and left to fetch the other two Oracles. Sam sensed Vera’s apprehension and slid his palm into hers for a moment, squeezing her hand. A peacefulness radiated from where they were connected and she felt her agitation being channeled from her body to Sam’s. 

“Thank you,” she whispered and led Sam and Sofia into the inner chamber without delay.

The inner room that lay at the heart of the Sanctuary was a bare, circular chamber. Sconces on the walls glowed with Gaia’s everlasting flame; this place was never dark, as a tribute to the constancy of time. The floor was a mosaic of concentric circles radiating outward from the center, in a series of blues and greens. The small squares of marble were polished to a high shine and the colors rippled like water in the lamplight. Sam took in the room, shifting into his hound-form and back without ceremony. The only evidence of his change was the faint scent of caramel and peat smoke that hung in the air. 

“Anything?” Vera said, keeping her voice low.

Sam returned to her side, “No enchantments on the Sanctuary itself.”  

“Sofia,” Vera pointed to the chamber door and Sofia took her place there. The spot gave the Temple Keeper a complete view of the room.

Minutes later Delphina entered, followed by two women, each as voluptuous as the next, and clothed in a simple gown of emerald wool. 

“Sister Alessandra,” Vera tipped her head to the tallest of the three, who bowed low, “And Sister Kata.” The third was a tiny woman, with quick, sharp eyes that set Vera on edge.

She saw no point in prolonging the inquiry and started at once, “There is a plot to challenge the Mound of Gaia’s control of the Sacred Passage.” 

Sister Alessandra shook her head in disbelief, “My lady, that is impossible. There have been no signs of any plot against the Order.” 

“Nevertheless, it exists,” The three Oracles began to speak and Vera silenced them with a stern glare. She reached beneath her cloak and pulled out a jade ampoule. A prickling of warning rushed along Vera’s limbs and she stepped back just as Kata grabbed the little jade phial and dashed it to pieces on the floor of the inner chamber. Precious liquid, red as blood, splattered on the floor at Vera’s feet, and flooded the room with the heady, sweet scent of almond and vanilla. 

A mad cackle rose from Kata’s throat. It was an ancient and dry sound, like the rasping of dead leaves being swept along the ground by the east wind. Her face contorted, the once youthful features changing before their eyes to that of a withered crone. 

“You are weaklings and fools.” 

Vera’s voice shook with shock and fury, “Where is our Sister Kata?”

“Where indeed? Lost in a wood, poor lamb. She’s all alone among the night blooms, but not for long.”    

“Enough,” Vera commanded, but the old woman laughed and clapped her hands. Delphina and Alessandra dropped to the floor, asleep. Sam shifted to his hound-form. He leapt in front of Vera and bared his teeth, a vicious snarl rumbling in his chest. Sofia hurried forward to see to the two women who had fallen unconscious.

The interloper began to chant, her voice barely above a whisper. Sam lunged forward to attack and she jumped, moving upwards with tremendous speed, her body a juddering blur that transformed from human to bat between breaths, then disappeared. 

“I should have been there,” Evander said and prowled the perimeter of their bedroom. The sun was setting over the Valley of Gortyna. The rocks and trees were painted in dusky hues from primrose blush to the deepest plum.

“I’m fine,” Vera waved off his concern and pulled him down on the bed to sit beside her.

“Have Delphina and Alessandra woken up?” Evander asked.

“No, but the Healers are sure they’ll be able to break the enchantment.” 

“What about Kata?” 

“Sam sent three of our best Scouts into the gorge, but they haven’t found anything yet. We don’t even know how long–” Vera’s eyes brimmed with tears. It took her several deep breaths to master her emotion, “We don’t know how long she’s been missing. Sam took a group of Scouts and Guardians to search for the imposter.”

Evander smoothed her hair away from her face and kissed her cheeks, her forehead, the tip of her nose, and ended by brushing his lips against hers. Vera shivered, burying her face in the crook of his neck, and breathing him in; his skin smelled of safety and home, redolent with fragrance of pepper and clary sage, sweet rum and leather.  

“We found Iris, we’ll find Kata, too. Now, you need to rest.” Evander nestled into the pillows at the head of the bed, pulling Vera with him. She followed without resistance, snuggling into his side. His hand threaded through her hair and she lifted her face, taking his lips with her own. The kiss was chaste, at first, a brush of skin meant to comfort more than ignite, but Vera needed to feel his presence, and the strength of his body moving against her own. She used the web that connected their minds to project the warmth and comfort of Evander’s kisses to Sam and received a rush of love from him in return. Vera poured both Sam’s love and her own into their kiss. 

She arched her body against Evander’s, her tongue darting forward along the seam of his lips, begging entrance. He opened to her like a leaf unfurling in the spring. Evander rolled them both and hovered above her. She spread her legs and he fell between her thighs, grinding his erection against her. Vera’s stomach summersaulted and she felt the wetness of her sex soaking her panties as they moved together. It was glorious to have his calloused hands gliding beneath the t-shirt she had changed into when they returned from the Sanctuary. He palmed her breasts, feeling their weight. 

“I want your mouth on me,” she panted and Evander grabbed the neck of her shirt and tore it open. She moaned when he raked her bra down beneath her full breasts and took a nipple in his mouth. He alternated nipping at the hardened nub and soothing the jolts of pain with quick kitten-licks from his tongue. Vera’s hands fluttered like wild doves, reaching to pull his clothes off. The tenor of their love-making shifted and Vera became desperate to feel his bare skin against her own. They pulled at each other’s clothes until they were both naked and Evander was spreading the folds of Vera’s womanhood, spearing her with two fingers. 

“Gaia, yes,” she moaned, undulating her hips and riding his hand while he stroked the velvet walls of her channel. She was desperate to be possessed and loved.

“Harder. I need to feel you,” she groaned. 

Evander reared back and Vera closed her hand around his prick, spreading the wetness from the tip down his length, and guiding it to her opening. She rubbed the ruddy head against her, whimpering with each pass over the delicate pearl of her clit. Vera looked up into his eyes, her body was alight with desire and she writhed beneath him. 

“Quiet now, my Vera,” he said and sunk into her body, gasping at the tight, wet heat. It did not matter how many times they made love, to Evander, Vera’s body was always a revelation, a homecoming. He hitched her legs up around his waist and began to move, a slow dance, the muscles of his thighs and back tight with restraint. Evander wanted nothing more than to pound into her body, fill her with his rod and seed, affirm that she was alive beneath him, this miraculous woman who held a piece of his heart, just as sure as Sam held the other. 

Vera was in constant motion, like the surface of the Aegean Sea, rocking against him until they were moving together. Their focus only on each other as they climbed toward completion. She reached between their bodies and fingered her clit in tight circles, a torturous sweet pressure building in her center.  

They kissed again and Evander’s hips stuttered in their rhythm. He slammed into her, shouting with pleasure as he let go of his restraint. The sight of his abandon pushed Vera over the edge and she came, her thighs shaking and her back arching, chasing the shocks of delight that flared outward from her core. She reveled in the sensation as another wave of orgasm shook her.

“I love you, I love you, I love you,” she chanted and peppered Evander’s face with kisses until they both succumbed to sleep.