Balflowesh Tent City – Week-of-Light, 5th Cycle, Thursday
Trade between Badchester and the Phantomon communities has been booming since the Rantington expedition, and we hitched a ride with a merchant caravan on its way to Balflowesh Tent City, a major Phantomon commercial hub. A team of fifty desert foxes pulled our covered wagon across the dunes of Pablik and for weeks we saw no signs of civilization, just sand as far as the eye could see in every direction. After experiencing the lifeless immensity of the desert, I found myself in awe of Shara for her perseverance and faith. The existence of habitable land beyond the Pablik was mere speculation before her famous journey last autumn. I believe I would have given up after only a few days under that punishing sun if I had not known what awaited me on the other side.
The desert ends abruptly, at the Ostrun River, one of three rivers that feed the Great Plains of Mak. The savannah seemed a lush Eden after our weeks in the desert. It is a flat, verdant landscape, blanketed with bushes and fruit trees. An intoxicating fragrance of fruit and flowers fills the air and the tall grasses seem to caress you as you walk through them. After the dry heat of the desert the air feels moist and heavy, a physical presence. I had a strong urge to throw off my clothes and run naked through the grass, letting the air envelope my dry, sunburned skin in its damp embrace.
The merchant couple who were our hosts explained that the Phantomon are a nomadic people and that Balflowesh Tent City moves from place to place with the seasons, but that Phantomon scouts would soon hear us and bring us to the city’s current location. Sure enough, by that evening a pair of Phantomon scouts approached us, welcomed us warmly and told us to follow them to the city.
Phantomons do not speak Common, and few Humans speak any Monueese, so we spoke in a rough Pekkish, the language of the Perrigog hills. I had never seen a Phantomon before in real life and I couldn’t stop myself from staring. I was fascinated by their elephant-like heads and legs. In particular, I found their sinuous trunks to be very beautiful.
Phantomons are a very large people, standing well over seven feet tall, but they move with a grace and delicacy that is difficult to describe. They have excellent hearing and the soles of their feet are very sensitive to vibration. The scouts explained that they were aware of our presence in their lands as soon as we crossed the Ostrun.
Balflowesh Tent City is a truly wondrous metropolis, a nearly overwhelming maelstrom of colour, scent and sound. I have neither the space nor the skill to describe the city’s many wonders here. I refer my readers to Dr. Rantington’s splendid account of her time among the Phantomon: The Peaceful Empire: First Contact with the Phantomon. For the purposes of this book I will focus on just one of the Phantomons’ cultural institutions: the massage tent.
The tradition of massage among the Phantomon is a very ancient one. It is believed that massage mimics the original act of creation, in which the elephant god Jerook took a lump of clay in his hands and formed it into the first primordial Phantomon. It is believed that massage is necessary, not just for good health, but to sustain life itself. It is a rejuvenating ritual, an infusion of that original creative energy that Jerook poured into the clay. The Phantomon believe that without regular massage, they will whither away and die. Sometimes friends will massage one another—this is particularly common among university students who don’t have a lot of money to spare—but the majority of Phantomons go to professional masseurs or masseuses. The massage tents are some of the largest and most opulent in Balflowesh Tent City and every neighbourhood has at least one.
Phantomon massage always begins and ends with orgasm, but the Phantomon use different words to describe these two orgasms, and there is a conceptual separation between them. The initial orgasm is meant to empty the client of energy and to put him or her into a passive, receptive state for the massage. My interviewees described this orgasm in terms of catharsis, relaxation, shedding of tension, letting go, and unwinding. They told me it was a fairly serious, even somber, experience. The second orgasm, on the other hand, is meant to fill the client back up with energy and strength. My interviewees described this second orgasm as joyful, celebratory, invigorating, passionate and somewhat funny. They reacted with incredulity when I told them that we do not distinguish between different types of orgasm in Common Tongue.
Illustration 4.1 – Click image to hide/show clothing
My primary subject for this chapter, Glagnire Moroth, is a masseur in the Grand Sun Tent, located in one of the city’s more upscale neighbourhoods. All massage tents are magnificent, but the Grand Sun Tent was the most impressive I saw during my time there. Decorative, brightly coloured silks hang from the ceiling and the scents of a thousand different massage oils waft through the air. Glagnire is immensely proud of his skill as a masseur, and when I asked if I might get a massage from him he agreed enthusiastically and said there would be no charge for such a distinguished visitor.
Massages are considered intimate experiences, but they are not private. Groups of friends often go to the massage tent together as a social event. I attracted much interest as I stripped naked and climbed onto the cushioned table.
Glagnire instructed me to lie on my back. He closed his hands around my thighs, raised and spread my legs and began stroking my labia and clitoris with the tip of his trunk. A Phantomon’s trunk is a truly extraordinary organ. It is extremely strong, but is also capable of exquisitely precise and delicate manipulation, as I discovered in the most pleasurable way. Both male and female Phantomons use their trunks as penetrative sex organs, but trunks are also penetrable themselves. They are essentially hollow tubes, and the “nostrils” can stretch and expand to receive a penis or even another trunk. Both the inside of the trunk, and the finger-like appendage at its tip, are extremely sensitive and a Phantomon can be brought to orgasm through trunk stimulation alone. Lovers and close friends will twine their trunks around one another as a sign of affection, similar to a Human kiss, and genital stimulation using the trunk is analogous to oral sex.
Within moments of the massage beginning I found myself gasping with pleasure. As I approached orgasm, Glagnire dipped his trunk into a bowl of massage oil and pushed the end firmly into my vaginal opening. Only afterwards did I consider the size of the thing that entered me—his trunk is at least four inches in diameter at its smallest point—but thanks to the combination of the slippery oil and my utter, gaping arousal I accepted it without pain. It moved inside me like a flexible, muscular phallus, touching and rubbing me in all the right places, filling me up and making me squirm with pleasure. He brought me to orgasm like that, holding my thighs tightly in his huge hands as I came.
Then he began the massage itself. He worked my muscles slowly and firmly, finding spots of deep tension and releasing that tension with the pressure of his huge fingers. He said he had adjusted his technique to accommodate my unusual physiology, but he made me promise to let him know if he ever pressed too hard. He never did. Occasionally his ministrations were painful, but it was always the delicious, decadent pain of muscles shedding their soreness.
As I lay there I felt like I was sinking into the firm cushions on which I lay. I felt all my worries leave me, and for a long while the sheer sensation of his hands and trunk on my body was all that existed. And then gradually, I felt arousal returning. I felt his hands on my breasts, his trunk against my clitoris once more, and I felt that arousal grow into a rising tide of energy. That second orgasm was a bright, noisy, colourful thing. I cried out in pleasure as it surged through me and then burst into laughter. I did indeed feel invigorated and full of passion afterwards, a feeling that lasted for the rest of that day.
I am certain this form of massage is the cultural practice to which Shara alluded before I left. I look forward to comparing notes on the experience with her.