'Hold. Help me up, I . . .' Li was wheezing from the climb up the lower reaches of Paradise Mountain - Tien Tang Shan - with little faith that he could climb as far up the challenging path as the parting stones. He had reached out for the arm folds of Junjie's scarlet-red silk robe, but the youth skittered away from him, farther up the rising stone path, anxious to reach his destination, focused on his own goal.
Li almost slipped and went down on the moist, moss-covered stepping stones, but his young servant, Zhong, was there right behind him and placed a strong hand under the arm of the man he called his revered teacher, and gently supported him while his master took another shuffling step of ascent.
'I have you, Hsien Sheng,' Zhong murmured. 'I shall not let you fall.'
Off course Zhong wouldn't let his master fall. That went without saying. In fact, most of what Zhong did for Li went without acknowledgment.
'Where . . . Where are you, Junjie?' Li cried out, looking frantically up the path, not wanting to lose sight for the one he loved deeply too soon. Tien Tang Shan and the monks of the Yung Yuan Hsi Lo monastery would be snatching Junjie from Li soon enough. Li wanted to savor these last precious moments with him.
'Are you coming, Lao Jen? Are you coming or not, Old Man,' Junjie called down from just beyond the bend up there in the densely packed pine forest they had entered. 'If you can't keep up, I will move on ahead. Can you see the monastery, Old Man? They told me it was covered in gold. He told me that it was worthy of my service.'
'I come as I am able, Junjie,' Li called out. 'If I have not caught up, wait for me at the parting stones. I cannot go farther than that by monastery decree. But I must have a proper parting.' The last came out in almost a moan.
But there was no answer. Junjie had already gone ahead.
Li began to shudder, his whole world coming down around him. He looked up the mountain, trying to pick out the accursed monastery, but unable to do so through the tops of the pine trees and the swirling blanket of misty clouds sitting upon the summit of Tien Tang Shan. That evil company of men who had lured his beloved Junjie - well named, both handsome and an outstanding example of ripened youth - who had lured him with their honeyed words of how coddled and honored he'd be if he joined them at the Eternal Joy monastery.
'Here, lean on me, Hsien Sheng,' the servant Zhong whispered to him. 'We can move faster if I take your weight upon me.'
And without a word, Li let Zhong put a strong arm under his and lift him and thus shuffle at a quicker and more steady pace up the ever-sharpening angle of ascent.
This was not meant to be, Li was agonizing as Zhong, resolute and steady on the slippery stepping stones, carried him up the steep path. Junjie had come to him young. Li had been training and cultivating him for several years, preparing the young man to be the perfect consort. Everything that Li possessed - which was considerable - had been dedicated to making Junjie his when he came of age. And now that he had done so, those brazen monks from the Yung Yuan Hsi Lo monastery had slithered down their mountain and taken it all away.
Nothing had been spared for Junjie. He had been given everything Li had to offer. But with just a few honeyed words from a strong, handsome monk in black brocade about how happy and revered Junjie would be in the golden temple on the mountain, Junjie's head had been turned. From that point, Junjie didn't even see Li when he looked his way. All he saw was all he had been promised if he gave himself to the monastery.
Li, supported in the strong arms of Zhong, reached the parting stones, a small stone terrace, surrounded by stone benches, bordered by lacy-leafed maple trees sighing in the breeze floating up from the base of the Tien Tang Shan. A stone path led up farther from here, straight up for a few feet and then taking a sharp turn to the right and disappearing behind closely planted pine trees. The mists of the early morning dipped down at this point to make a low ceiling to the small stone terrace. Beyond this point no one was sanctioned to go who was not initiated in - or about to be initiated into - the Eternal Joy monastery.
Li gave a little gasp of exhaustion and a low cry of consternation as Zhong settled him down on one of the stone benches. Junjie wasn't here. There wasn't even a hint of his scarlet robes disappearing up the path beyond the parting stones as the boundary terrace came into sight. He hadn't waited, even to say farewell to his benefactor, the one who worshipped him, Li, the wealthy merchant prince of Kueilin. The headstrong Junjie had just forged ahead to his initiation into the monastery. After this Li would not see him for years, if ever.
Li sank down on the stone bench. Zhong crouched nearby, ready to lend any aid to his master that he was asked to provide. Li sobbed openly, unashamedly, letting all of his grief pour out of him. He had given Junjie everything, everything in preparation for the day when Junjie would come into his bed and become his. And Junjie had taken. He had wanted to be wanted and to look delectable and to dress expensively and immaculately - and he'd been coquettish with Li. He had never said that he had anything in mind other than what Li had in mind. When Li had stroked and kissed and fondled him, Junjie had let him do so. When Li had spoken of what they would do when Junjie was fully manned, Junjie had smiled indulgently.
And now Junjie was fully manned and he had answered the call of the Yung Yuan Hsi Lo monks at their very whisper of interest - and he could not even wait at the parting stones to say good-bye to the one who loved him so dearly and who had done so much for him.
Li's blubbering was reduced to sighs punctuated with occasional sobs. His loyal servant Zhong crouched nearby, every fiber of his being focused on his master - the man whom he loved above all others and would serve faithfully no matter what was asked of him. The cold of the morning mists cut to Zhong's bones - he wasn't warmly robed as both Li and Junjie were - There was only one layer of thin cotton in his robe - but he remained there, poised, heedless of the cool breeze, ready to help his master in any way he was needed.
As Li grew silent, he heard it. The sound of lilting music, not just the breeze playing through the leaves of the pines and the lacey-leafed maples, but a haunting tune on some sort of flute. It was coming from farther up the mountainside, beyond the partying stone, the barrier mere mortals were not supposed to breach.
Li struggled to his feet and shuffled toward the pathway leading up from the parting stone terrace.
'What is it, Hsien Sheng?' Zhong asked in a low, throaty voice. 'I hear music. Is that what you hear? Do you intend to mount the Tien Tang Shan farther. We are not permitted . . . oh, here, give me your arm. If you wish to climb farther, I was support you. I'll take you wherever you want to go.'
Li gave no indication that he even heard Zhong, but he leant on the young man's arm quickly enough regardless and let the strong, well-muscled, well-formed servant carry more than support him on the upward, steeper climb into the mists of the morning.
They had almost reached another, larger stone terrace, nearly fully shrouded in clumps of white, wispy clouds, when they distinctly heard the flute playing - and the low beat of a drum - and also heard the rustling and slapping of many sets of bare feet, scurry across a parallel pathway around the near summit of the mountain that intersected with the upward path at this stone terrace.
Li and Zhong instinctively drew back and crouched down into the dewy patch of ferns within a thickly planted copse of pine, where they could see up to the stone terrace but, with luck, could not be seen. Legend had it that no one who journeyed beyond the parting stones who was not of the monastery or being initiated into it returned to the valley alive. So, intoxicated and driven Li and loyal-to-the-death Zhong had continued their upward journey with great fear and trembling.
As they crouched, Li had to rub his eyes between looking three times to his right along the parallel path leading into the stone terrace. How could this possibly be, he asked himself. What was a brightly colored, undulating, long-tailed dragon doing up here near the summit of the Tien Tang Shan.
It was wending its way, slithering along with the motion of a ship upon a stormy sea, through the forest of pines, never seen in whole but in bits and pieces between the closely set trees of the pine copse. The dragon was snorting, and its undulating progress was what was being accompanied by the low drum beat and the playing of the flute. The dragon was twisting and turning and advancing upon the stone terrace in rhythm to the drum and flute.
And there was the beat of feet, many bare feet, and the humming of men - an almost human dragon. A sight to behold, one that Li thought no one from the valley below, in the markets of Kueilin, would believe should he live to tell of what he saw and heard.
And when the dragon entered into the stone terrace and made a quick turn to the right, up the path toward the summit of the Tien Tang Shan, Li realized what it was. Nothing more than one of the ceremonial dragons that wended the streets of Kueilin marking the Chinese New Year. A long, shiny-cloth costume, in brilliant yellows and blues and greens and white, slung over the bodies of many men, undulating around and twisting and turning through the streets of Kueilin, and, in this case, around the summit of the Tien Tang Shan, and now up, up, up toward the Yung Yuan Hsi Lo monastery that now, as the mists above them began to be burned off by the morning sun, Li could see what was perched at the very apex of the mountain. White marble columns rising from pavilion platforms to high-peaked roofs covered with fish-scale shaped golden tiles that gleamed in the bright sunshine there at the top of the world above the clouds separating the world of the monks from the common valley dwellers.
And there, suspended from chain links high above his head, his cheek pressed into a marble column at the edge of one of the pavilion platforms, the rich folds of the scarlet silk robe Li had given him lapping at his feet, hung Li's protégé and erstwhile lover. Junjie - naked and magnificent of body against the pristine backing of the mountaintop temple.
Shocked at the sight of his shackled love, Li rose up onto his feet in the bed of ferns and opened his mouth to cry out to Junjie. He was stopped, however, by the tug on his sleeve by his servant, Zhong. Li remembered where he was and that it was death to be discovered there, and what he had started to call out to Junjie stuck in his throat and came out as no more than a low gurgle.
Those of the dancing dragon did not hear Li's cut-off exclamation or see him rise in the fern patch. They were turning their attention upward now, upward toward the new initiate, the handsome, desirable Junjie.
Li collapsed back down into the bed of ferns and watched, in frustration and horror, as the undulating dragon, powered by a myriad of beefy, well-muscled, naked thighs wound and wove its way up the last flight of stone stairs to the base of the Eternal Joy monastery platforms, weaving its way, like an inevitable wave toward the ripe youth chained to the monastery pillar.
Li let out a low, guttural moan as the dragon head reached Junjie and reared up, revealing the naked body of the lead monk under the dragon covering as he embraced the shackled Junjie from behind with one arm and wrapped the other around Junjie's belly, pulling Junjie's hips back in presentation to a hard, thick, ready cock.
Li nearly fainted back into Zhong's arms with a sob, as he helplessly watched the first thrusting entrance of the initiation ceremony by the lead monk under the dancing dragon pelt between the thrust-back, plump buttocks cheeks of Junjie, the one who Li had been cultivating and saving for himself.
The merchant prince shuddered as Junjie lifted his head and howled up into the heavens as he was taken for the first time in his initiation into the Eternal Joy monastery.
Spent within a short time, the lead monk, his head and upper torso still inside the dragon head, shook that head from side to side in obvious approval and ecstasy, pulled his spent yang chu out of Junjie, and wove around to the side of him to provide place for the second set of legs under the dragon cloak to approach and the dragon cloth lift to reveal yet another young, vigorous, ready monk, who mounted Junjie like a dog for the second taking. There were no fewer than seven more sets of legs covered by the dancing dragon, pounding up and down on the platform terrace, shuffling noisily to the sound of the drum and flute, anxiously waiting for their turn in the initiation of the new monk convert.
Li found that he had collapsed back into Zhong's arms. He was sobbing and shivering as he watched his whole world - all of his well-laid plans - being devoured by the lustful dragon. Junjie was screaming out over the heightened sound of the flute and drum, but he must have been drugged or very well convinced that this was the life he wanted, because his cries were ones of joy and passion and encouragement - a lust for male attention that he'd never revealed to Li. His body writhed against the pillar as, one after another, the monks under the dragon covering approached him from the rear, revealed their well-toned and wanting bodies under the dragon cloak, lifted his hips in strong hands, and set his pelvis down on their eager, engorged cocks. With a howl of victory, each succeeding monk thrust a hard yang chu inside Junjie's now gaping, flowing hole, and fucked him to their utter satiation.
Zhong was humming and rocking his master like a baby, doing all he could to sooth and calm the man he worshipped and had served since a child but who had never so much as taken a glance at him, who had only had eyes for Junjie.
As Li watched Junjie being taken time and time again, lustily, by strong, young, vigorous monks, writhing away under the undulating dancing dragon, who, when spent, continued on, dancing and weaving, as the dragon slowly wound its way around the swaying body of the fully taken Junjie, Li became aware that he himself was aroused. His yang chu, his cock, was hard and throbbing. And he became aware, as he lay there in Zhong's lap, being rocked and listening to Zhong's low, soothing humming, that Zhong's yang chu was hard too.
For the first time in years, Li became aware of his servant Zhong. He turned his face to Zhong to discover, to his amazement, that he no longer was the small boy who had scurried around delivering and fetching. He had grown into a young man. And a beautiful, well-formed, heavily muscled young man as well.
Why, he was every bit as handsome and alluring as Junjie was.
And certainly just as ripe and much more willing than Junjie had ever proven to be. His yang chu was standing straight up, proud and thick and long. And his thin robe had fallen away from his chest, which was massive and hard and his nipples stood out, puckered and rock hard. And Zhong was giving Li that look of total loyalty and wanting and submission.
Without even knowing he had done it, Li took Zhong's lips in his and kissed him deeply. In just the way he had imagined he would be doing with Junjie. Junjie had let Li kiss him before, but nothing as deep and breathtaking as this. And nothing as sweet tasting.
Li rolled to one side in the bed of ferns and scrabbled at his sash and opened his robe off of his body. Zhong knelt in front of his master and took Li's yang chu deep into his mouth and made love to the master's cock, as Li looked back up to the monastery platform. Junjie was a mere rag doll now, exhausted and flopping around as yet another dragon-covered monk pumped his plump buttocks cheeks up and down an angry-red, curved cock.
Li could view this with a sense of detachment now. He had been so attentive to Junjie, and dreamed so much of his own taking of Junjie, that he hadn't seen the real prize under his eyes. Junjie had permitted Li to play the flute game with his yang chu from time to time - but only briefly. What he had gotten from Junjie - indeed, anything that he could hope ever to get from Junjie - paled at the symphony Zhong was playing on his own cock.
At length Li could take no more; with every ounce of strength he had, he lifted Zhong up and set him down in his lap, facing him, on his throbbing cock. Li sighed and Zhong groaned, as the warm, moist tightness of Zhong descended slowly on Li's throbbing love tool. And then Li was crying softly to himself in joy and fulfilled desire as Zhong gathered his masters face into his chest, where Li sucked on Zhong's hard nubs, while Zhong used his strong calf and thigh muscles to ascend and descend on Li's cock, sending the merchant prince into ever greater waves of paradise.
When Li and Zhong were both spent, they turned their attention toward the monastery pavilions. Zhong was still skewered in Li's lap, both men enjoying the ebbing of Li's manhood deep inside Zhong, both savoring how they had moved as one and come as one, master and servant, but equal as lovers.
The dancing dragon was gone now, and Junjie was being unshackled by one of the monks, a hulking brute with a still-commanding cock jutting up and out of the center of him. The monk turned Junjie, who just hung there, whimpering but with a big smile on his face, to his back against the pillar, lifted his torso with big beefy hands under his thighs, spread his legs and turned his pelvis up, and thrust his bulging cock up into him in a swift, deep piercing. Junjie moaned and the monk grunted and groaned as he moved Junjie's back up and down on the pillar by the power of his pistoning cock.
Both Li and Zhong felt life returning to the center of Li at the observation of Junjie's renewed taking, something that no longer bothered Li in the least, and Zhong turned in Li's lap facing away from him and once more began rising and falling on Li's rejuvenated yang chu, while Li kissed him in the hollow of his neck, thumbed his hard nipples with one hand, and pumped on his young, hard cock with the other hand.
When all were finished this time, the monk left Junjie in a heap on the silken scarlet robe Li had provided him from what was now a long-ago and fading past.
'Do you want me to go and see if Junjie wants to come back, Hsien Sheng?' Zhong asked in a low whisper. 'Ask him whether he already has had enough of the world of the monks and wishes to come home?'
Li turned Zhong's face to his and looked deeply in his young servants eyes. Yes, he could see that Zhong would do even that for him. He even would bring Junjie back into their lives and recede again into the shadows, being willing to forget that they had ever had this coupling, if it would please Li. How blind Li had been. The love Li thought he had been bestowing on Junjie and was offering him was nothing like the love that Zhong had been giving Li all along.
'No, I think not, little one,' Li murmured. 'Junjie made his choice. Probably much longer ago than I ever realized. His bed is made. Leave him. Help me back down the mountain and into my - no, into our - bed.'
The look Zhong gave Li was worth ten thousand looks Junjie had ever given him. Nary a sound reached the panting, moaning heap on the monastery platform as the two figures retreated into the morning mists beyond the fern bed in the pine copse and moved as one down from Paradise Mountain to their own future of paradise in the valley below.