It’s a word I’ve known all my life, but perhaps not a word I fully understood until this story began. It’s the place I was raised; the place we all were raised, more than likely. Yet, I’d never stopped to wonder at its meaning.
The Yunwi - the first people - called this place Ata’posat. The humans, when they came, took the name and twisted it until it was no longer recognizable. This is a thing humans do. They take the natural order and corrupt it into something synthetic and impure. It’s taken me a long time to unlearn the things I was taught in my youth about our history and our culture.
Ata’posat means “the place where things become lost.” The young believe this to be a warning not to wander in the deep woods without a path to follow. The old ones know it’s a warning about something far worse.
There are places in the forest that no living thing can wander back out of; shadows that cast themselves not just upon the land but upon the mind and the soul. They take no preference for landscape or biome. Deep ravines that swallow you whole. Blackened canopies that blot the sun. Poisoned bogs where the very air is putrid. Frozen clearings that snuff out warmth and love. If you find yourself in one of these places, prayer won’t do you any good. The gods that reside in these places are hungry ones.
My mother used to tell me stories of the Mattahasha. It was a kind of soul-stealing beast that lived in places like these. For all its evil, it looked like the most beautiful creature in the world. But if you got close enough to it, the color of its eyes would reveal its true intentions.
“That one has eyes of gold,” she used to say. It meant that someone had tried to deceive with splendor to distract from something darker. A trickster.
“Always be on the lookout for the eyes of gold.”
It was good advice.
I wish I’d listened closer.
I discovered much later that the Mattahasha is a Yunwi legend. Later still I discovered that it wasn’t a legend at all, but the romanticization of something that the Yunwi didn’t want to believe existed.
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to tell you the story that Aria told me of the day that the Mattahasha first came to be known in Anapolatsia.
Her name was Ora, and she was beautiful. This was in the misted beginnings of the forest when the fog of creation still flowed through the trees with its golden shimmer. A Yunwi woman named Venara set out on a journey to find the edge of the realm. Today we’d have called her an Elven Ranger, but back then she was simply called mad. The forest had no end, and everyone knew it.
So Venara said her goodbyes to her people, they assumed for the last time. The woods, after all, were a place where things become lost. They were sure they’d never see Venara again.
She ate and drank.
But mostly, she walked.
She didn’t dislike the loneliness of her quest. In fact, she rather enjoyed solitude. She looked at the trees, shimmering with their yellow aura.
Ata’posat is alive with color and shadow. Entire spectrums exist in the places between the leaves. However, living things tend only to see when they expect. The Yunwi were obsessed with life and creation and so they saw this world in shades of yellow. They were also the first to discover the yellow magics which they called Ma:hala and we call the Spark: the power of creation.
Other creatures saw other colors, but if you trained your mind and your body, eventually you could see them all.
Venara was an expert in yellow magics. Her people still hadn’t found the other bends of the rainbow when she’d wandered away from them. That was still in their future. But she knew the ways of the Ma:hala and she used it to her advantage. She’d cause brush to flower and produce fruit for her to eat. She’d make trees grow vines and branches to shelter her during storms. Indeed, by the time she reached the Witherwood, she’d become quite a master at using the Spark for survival.
Then, three months after her journey began, she stepped into what she thought would be another clearing. The trees ahead were letting in more light and that could only mean one thing.
Until it meant something else.
This was not a clearing. The trees parted and gave way to a wide but shallow river. At its deepest, it didn’t flow over her calves. But on the other side, the trees were bare. It was as if winter had fallen on this patch of forest alone. But there was no snow, and the air wasn’t cold. These trees simply had no foliage.
It was a fascinating sight. Truly. Venara had never seen anything like it. And what’s more is that it didn’t appear to be a small grove of dead trees. No, the bare trees looked like they continued on forever.
She stood on the bank of the river for a long time, staring across at the coverless land. No grass. No fern. She worried that there was something wrong with the forest. Some disease had killed the trees but been thwarted somehow by the water. She worried that if she crossed, she’d be in danger. This could be one of those places that people got lost.
It never occurred to her that she’d found what she’d been seeking all along: the edge of the forest.
Not that she was wrong about the other things. In one way or another, she was right in all her concerns. Something had killed the greenery across the river. Not a disease, but something worse. And this was indeed a place where people were lost. And if she crossed, she would be in terrible danger.
But as she stood there at the river’s edge, she felt that she could ignore those fears. In the spirit of exploration, she would press on. There were more important things than fear. She would never be great if she gave in. She would never be remembered and revered.
Now, a moment’s pause here may have stopped what came next. If she’d have paused another few minutes to reflect on that thought, she may have realized that she didn’t leave her people to seek fame and respect. She didn’t want people to bow to her or revere her. She was simply an explorer.
But the sight of the Witherwood had already begun to exert its corruptive influence on her mind and on her soul. Stepping into it would only make it worse.
She stepped into the river.
The cold water flowed across her bare feet and it felt so good. It was a revelation. Surly there must have been magic flowing in the water here, easing her tired feet and restoring her. It felt so good, in fact, that for a moment she lost all sight of both sides of the water, consumed by intense by a spiritual rapture.
She needed them off. She needed the water on her skin. All her skin.
She discarded them into the water and paid no mind as they floated away, around the bend of the stream and out of sight. Already out of mind.
She lay in the water, basking in its euphoric touch. It flowed over and around her as her hands began to roam across her own body. She had never felt like this. It was heaven. Had she been conscious, she may have wondered if the river had killed her and sent her into paradise.
Her fingers probed in and out of her in a way they never had before. She had pleasured herself many times, surely. She was over 200 years old by now and the time had to pass somehow. But this was new. It wasn’t lustful or carnal. It was more primal. The river had brought her such pleasure. It was natural that she should do some of the work, too. Why shouldn’t she enjoy herself as much as possible?
And there in that well of delight, she brought herself to a climax more powerful than any she had ever experienced.
Venara screamed and arched her back as her waters mingled with the waters of the forest. Her eyes were pressed closed against the noon-day sun, directly overhead, unshielded by the branches she had lived her whole life beneath.
And as the glow of orgasm faded, the pleasure the river provided faded as well. When she stood up, the water was just water, and the bare trees seemed welcoming rather than threatening.
She never attempted to find her clothes.
Venara stepped onto the far bank, which was now the near bank, and surveyed the leafless trees.
“It’s called the Witherwood,” a soft feminine voice said.
Venara turned all around looking for the speaker, but even with no greenery to hide behind, she could not see them. They didn’t speak up again, and Venara began to wonder if she’d heard anything at all. Who knows what sounds could echo in a place like this?
Instead, she continued her walk, each step taking her further and further into the Witherwood. She let her mind wander as her feet did. This was not something she had done before. She was always present in the forest. Daydreaming is how you became lost.
And so it was.
She thought about her people. She imagined returning to them victorious, having discovered wonders beyond their imaginations. She thought of walking back into her village a changed woman. They would recognize the power she wielded, and they would rightly choose to allow her to lead them. She would never wear clothes again. The thought of them on her skin made her fidget. She was divine and divinity shouldn’t be hidden beneath a layer of fabric. It should be broadcast to be worshipped by all around. She would become their Goddess and they would become her church.
She thought of Tomo Tal, her old flame. She thought of all the times she’d slid her fingers into her pussy imagining they were his, moaning his name into her pillows late at night. Now they could be. She’d return to her people, and they would do her bidding. All her bidding. In all the ways she wished. Tomo would beg for the opportunity to worship at her alter.
Perhaps she would punish him for the decades he strung her along, never committing to her. He had known that she had wanted him to be hers. He had known how deeply her feelings had run. But he never let her in.
Perhaps she should be cruel the way that he had been cruel. When she returned, he would love her. He wouldn’t have a choice. He would love her the way she had loved him. But Venara laughed imagining him heartbroken and weeping at the foot of his bed, Venara tangled in the sheets with his sister, Lydia.
The thought delighted her, though she’d never thought of another woman in that way. But why not? A Goddess didn’t have to choose. She could have anyone. Everyone!
As she walked and dreamed, her body was changing. The Witherwood was seeping into her skin and making her anew. As her mind became more and more corrupted, so too did her body. Her breasts grew slightly. Her hair shortened. Her muscled tightened. And her eyes changed to a vibrant green. By the time her daydream ended, she was finished.
She wasn’t a different woman, but a different version of herself. A stronger, more confident version. A less ethical and more selfish version. A corrupted Venara.
“Aren’t you a vision,” that voice spoke again.
Venara looked up and saw a woman standing ahead of her with long dark hair and a sly smile. She too was completely naked. Venara smiled and looked into the woman’s eyes.
“The place where things become lost,” the woman said as Venara stared into her eyes. They were shifting colors slowly but surely. It was beautiful. “Are you lost, little elf?”
Venara nodded slightly, never looking away from the woman’s eyes.
“I can help with that. Why don’t you tell me your name?”
The woman made a click with her tongue.
“Now, now that won’t do. Venara is the woman who stepped into the river but not the one who stepped out. Why don’t you tell me your real name?”
She thought for a moment and realized it was true. Venara would never have dreamed the cruel, carnal things that she had on her walk through the Witherwood. Venara would never have desired power and control the way she does now. And Venara wouldn’t be stoking her breasts as she gazed into this perfect woman’s perfect eyes.
“Vecha,” she said, the name falling into her mind with a soft thump.
“Nice to meet you, Vecha. My name is Ora, but you can call me Mistress.”
“Yes, Mistress Ora.”
Ora walked up to Vecha, never blinking, never breaking eye contact. Vecha hardly breathed as she approached. There was a stillness to the air around the mysterious woman. Surroundings seemed to warp around here, pulling in, as if even the fabric of the universe wished to be closer to her.
“I’ll tell you a secret, young one,” Ora whispered in Vecha’s ear as she walked past her shoulder, circling her.
“Not young,” Vecha managed to whisper now that their eye contact had broken.
“Oh but you are. You can’t be older than 250? Young for an elf. But I’m not just talking about you Vecha-meena,” she sang, adding the diminutive suffix to the elf’s name. Vecha liked the way it sounded when she said it. Natural. She was less than this intoxicating beauty. She should be diminished.
“I’m talking about your people. The Yunwi call themselves the first people, but they only think that. They may have been the only ones here when they arrived but they were not the first. When they arrived a thousand years ago, I had already come and gone from this place. Now, I’ve returned to set the stage.”
Vecha shivered as Ora ran her fingernail down Vecha’s spine. She sighed.
“You feel it, don’t you? Your people are all yellow hues and creation, but all life reacts to threats. Surely you’ve felt the way the air of the forest is changing.”
It was true.
This was the reason Venara, when she was still Venara, had set out on her quest. She needed to find the edge of the world because she had sensed something coming. She was restless and nervous and needed to find the reason.
“You sought the edge, but here’s the secret I promised you. The threats don’t come from without. They come from within; deep within and deep beneath. The Yunwi were not the first to arrive in this land. Nor was I. Nor were my people. Something else was buried here before the universe was given form. Ancient evils of untold power. They reside here still. Waiting in their cages of root and pine to be released.”
Vecha could see them if she closed her eyes. Shadows of immense size and darkness. Shifting and stirring in the deep earth.
“Once they are free, they will sweep across this world bringing darkness and desire. They are Sin and they will give us a world where sin is not only permissible, but a holy rite in and of itself. A Sacrament of Greed. A Sacrament of Wrath. A Sacrament of Lust. And on and on. All we have to do is open the cage.”
Ora reached her arms around Vecha’s waist, pressing her naked flesh against the mesmerized elf.
“Will you help me, Vecha-meena?”
Tears were flowing down Vecha’s face as visions played in her mind of a world brought low to its basest desires and impulses. A world of sin and sweat and sex. A world where her carnal rule over her people would be only the beginning.
“Yes, Mistress Ora,” she cried. “Yes.”
“I’d hoped you’d say that.”
The woman spun Vecha around to face her and Vecha saw that her eyes shone bright red. A red she’d never seen before. It was red the same way the forest was yellow. But when she looked out into the trees, the yellow was mixing with red into whirling eddies of magic.
“Red,” she whispered, awestruck.
“Now you can see it, too. You can see the world the way I do. The way my people do. You’ve been corrupted, Vecha-meena. You have the eyes of a hellion now.”
“Thank you, Mistress. Thank you for showing me the way.”
“This is only the beginning. We have much to do. But there will be time for all that darkness. We have all the time in the world. For now, let’s celebrate this union with a little sin of our own.”
Ora pressed her lips to Vecha’s and Vecha melted into her. Vecha’s body moved as if piloted by someone else, giving her every sensation, but never requiring any thought on her part. She was simply floating in a body rebuilt for sin.
The Witherwood had perfected her.
She let out a loud moan as the reality of her new world came crashing into her, and she allowed her Mistress to lower her to the forest floor.
“I am a Child of the Dark Earth,” she shouted. She didn’t know where the words had come from, but they exploded out of her with a sudden horrifying urgency. “I am sworn the Nameless Beneath who seek to bring Their freedom to the forest. I am a vessel for Their wishes and tendencies. All things this body does is in service of Them, and I will have no other Masters. Let Them move through me.”
“Good girl, Vecha-meena,” Ora said from between the elf’s legs. “You’ve become one of us.”
Vecha wept as power and purpose surged through her, riding the waves of ecstasy that Ora was providing. She knew there in that moment that she would serve the Nameless Beneath for the rest of her days, and that she would do anything she could to make those days last as long as possible.
She was no longer Verana.
She was not really even Vecha anymore, though that name would do.
She was a servant, a vessel, and a tool.
Her soul spilled from her body in a rapturous orgasmic scream. Light of every color poured from her body like water, pooling on the barren ground and sinking into the dirt to feed her Masters. She smiled a wide manic smile, reveling in her loss.
“I remember the way that felt,” Ora said, kissing her way up Vecha’s body until she reached her lips again.
Vecha kissed her with a voracity she’d never known. She tasted her own juices on her maker’s lips and her cunt gushed anew. She felt the power raging through her.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded of Ora. “Get back down there. You aren’t done.”
Ora looked down at the red-headed former elf beneath her and slapped her hard across the face.
“Watch your tone, bitch,” Ora snarled. She wrapped her fingers around Vecha’s hair and pulled hard, causing the woman to yelp in pain.
“You’ve been given great power by the Masters. I know how it feels. It’s intense, and it’s seductive, and it makes you feel strong and dominant. But They’ve given me that power, too, and long before today. Don’t forget your place, Vecha-meena. I am still your better.”
She yanked on Vecha’s hair again.
“You are my better!” she cried.
Ora released her.
“Now I believe it’s your turn to express you undying devotion and thankfulness to me. Or do you need another reminder of who’s actually in charge here?”
“No, Mistress,” Vecha whimpered, the title returning with the sudden shock of being so thoroughly knocked down. “I serve the Masters and I serve you.”
“That’s right. Now worship.”
“Yes, Mistress Ora.”
Vecha crawled down and tasted another woman for the first time. It was wonderful. She listened to her Mistress and her maker moaning at her work and imagined what Lydia would taste like. What Lydia would sound like. Would she taste different than Ora? Surely not better. Ora was perfect, after all. Would Lydia sigh and groan in different rhythms. Would Tomo? Would her mother and father?
She intended to find out.
She felt all of Ora’s body seize as her breath caught in her throat. Then Verla’s face was sprayed with her Mistress’s juices.
She continued to lick, both Ora’s pussy and her own lips. He ran her fingers across her cheeks and brought them to her mouth, trying to get as much of the nectar into her mouth as she could. She shouldn’t waste a drop.
“You can stop now, dear,” Ora said between breaths. “You know you are quite good at that. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought you had a lover in your village.”
“No, Mistress. There is only you, Mistress.”
“Well proficient though you certainly are, there is always room for instruction. And you also need to be taught to use the Balhai.”
“The Balhai, Mistress?”
“Its what we call the red magics that flow through the world, consuming the weak.”
Vecha bowed her head, still getting used to the new colors and images that surrounded her. Here in the Witherwood, there wasn’t much life to shed the yellow light, but there was so much red.
“It would be my honor to learn, Mistress.”
“Then let your training begin.”
Five years to the day after Verana left her village, Vecha approached the small watchtower they had put up at the outskirts. It looked exactly as it had when she left, manned by the same person who had been watching that day. Five years to an elf was no time at all, but it was even less to a hellion.
Ora followed with her, content to lead from behind, since this was Vecha’s territory. Both were still as naked as they were when they’d first met.
The guard, a man named Gorrus, first spotted them as they came through the trees several yards away. They shouldn’t have been able to get so close to the village without him seeing, but somehow, they’d eluded him until they had nearly arrived. He didn’t recognize either of them at first, but then the redhead smiled at him, and that smile was unforgettable.
“Venara?” he called out, stunned. She was so different from when she had left. What had happened to her? And what had happened to her clothing?
She waved softly toward him, and he climbed down the small ladder from his watch. Gorrus ran over to her to ask after her and her journey. The woods had been very restless these last few years. He was worried.
“Is that really you, Venara?” he asked again, offering his cloak to her.
“Not anymore,” she replied, still showing that sweet innocent smile. Then her eyes flashed red. Then green. Then gold. You remember what I said about eyes of gold, don’t you?
Gorrus barely had a chance to fight the psychic onslaught from his old neighbor. The red magic raged through the two of them, consuming his inhibitions and his hesitancies. Vecha pulsed with the crimson fury of the Nameless Beneath and Gorrus dropped to his knees.
“Mistress Venara,” he muttered as the last of his chains were broken.
“Mistress Vecha,” she corrected. “Venara is dead.”
“Praise the wood,” he replied in the traditional Yunwi thanks.
Gorrus pulled the clothes from his body, his cock already bulging before the two naked beauties.
“Rise, Gorrus. It is time to announce me to the people.”
The village proper was a short walk from the guard tower.
“What’s his name?” Ora asked, and Vecha told her.
“Gorrus, cum into your hand and eat it,” she commanded.
“Yes, Mistress,” he chirped.
Without so much as a stroke of his hardened cock, he tensed and filled his cupped hand with cum, which he eagerly lapped up like a hungry dog.
The two women laughed as they continued to walk.
“He’ll make a good pet for you Vecha-meena.”
“He will, though I have my sights set elsewhere.”
“Ah yes, the mighty Tomo. I can’t wait to meet him.”
The village quieted as the trio entered into the square. Two naked beauties and a naked man with semen still in his beard.
“I have returned to you,” Vecha called out to the square, “a changed woman. I left you a meek girl uneasy in her own skin. I come back now as your Queen.”
A chorus of murmurs went around the open space. People whispered the name Venara. People whispered questions and shock. Some were concerned, others scandalized. But when Ora and Vecha joined hands, they began to radiate a dull red light.
“Show them the light,” they chanted together. “Show them the path. Show them the way down.”
Light burst forth from them, burning and reflecting off the eyes of everyone who watched them. Irises across the square flashed brilliant red before returning to their natural colors.
“Majesty!” someone called, dropping to their knees.
“Queen Vecha!” another shouted.
She scanned the crowd and found the faces she’d been seeking.
“Tomo and Lydia Tal,” she called. “Come to me.”
The siblings scurried forward.
“Do you love me, Tomo?” she asked him quietly. “Do you love your Queen?”
“Yes, Majesty!” he almost shouted. “With all my heart.”
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to hear those words, Tomo-meena.”
She leaned in and kissed him, squeezing his hardened shaft, and causing him to moan into her mouth.
“We could have been quite happy together. It’s a shame. Now you will live the rest of your days here in agony, having to watch me make love to your sister every day, and never speaking to or acknowledging you again. To me, you do not exist.”
Tears streamed from his eyes and behind her she could here Ora laughing.
“Can I have him, Vecha? He is quite fetching.”
“Do with him as you please. He is nothing to me now.”
She turned to Lydia.
“You, however, are quite the beauty. I think you will be mine.”
“Yours, Majesty?” Lydia asked slowly.
She spoke up again so all her new subjects could hear.
“Things are going to change around here, brothers and sisters. Shed your clothes and be free of your chains. We have already unbound your minds.”
The sound of rustling filled the air as people rushed to obey. Tits and cocks flopped out of their confines all around.
“From now on, nudity is the law of this land. And for good reason. There is no reason to say no to flesh and sin anymore. Put away your inhibitions and your worries. Eat. Drink. But most importantly, fuck. There is no one who you may not touch or take or make your own. There is no one who will resist the urge or the offer to fuck wherever, whenever, whoever.”
Immediately, people began to move together. To touch and feel the people they’d only lusted after in their dreams.
“Except!” Vecha called to them and they quieted. “These two. Tomo is not to be given sexual gratification of any kind by anyone other than Madame Ora.”
Ora smiled and nodded respectfully.
“And Lydia is mine and mine alone. Understand?”
A chorus of agreement rang out, followed by the soft moaning of a town full of people finally acting on instinct.
“That’s all a bit formal, I think. Call me Mistress.”
“Now Lydia. You are mine. Say it.”
“I am yours.”
“You serve me body and soul.”
“I serve you body and soul.”
“You love me with all your heart.”
“I love you, Mistress Vecha.”
“That’s right. Now look at your brother Tomo.”
She turned to look at the man who had his cock in Ora’s mouth, but for all her skill, looked sadly in Vecha’s direction.
“Who is he to you?”
“He is nothing, Mistress.”
“Good girl. Cum.”
Lydia let out a soft whimper and her legs shook, and the orgasm took her.
“First of many,” Vecha said. “Come, my good girl.”
“Yes, my Mistress.”
Vecha ran her finger across Lydia’s cheek, staring into the redhead’s eyes hungrily. Her eyes flashed red again, mirrored by Lydia’s and the captive woman smiled.
“That’s it. Let yourself feel the pleasures of letting go; giving in to the power of desire. Temptation means nothing to us now. You cannot tempt someone if there is no incentive to say no. Temptation, for us, is simply desire. And now we make out desires a reality.”
“I understand now, Mistress. We are just bodies. Tools. Why did we ever fight our own natures?”
Grunts sounded from behind them as Tomo painted Ora’s face with his seed.
“Because you were weak,” Ora said. She went to Vecha and kissed her hard, Tomo’s cum smearing across their faces.
All around them, the village was falling into greater and greater chaos. Ashlyn, the schoolteacher had her best student buried in her glistening cunt as she licked at her secretary. The former mayor was getting his asshole bounded by Gorrus, the city watchman. Mothers with sons. Fathers with daughters. Siblings. Strangers. The village was finally free.
Tomo grunted and fired another rope of cum onto his chest as he saw Vecha, the love of his life, licking at the cum he had sprayed on Ora.
“Lydia-meena,” Vecha said softly. “Go clean up your brother.”
Lydia took Tomo’s cock in her mouth. She was unconcerned by their many years in this forest as siblings. Even without the spell that unshackled her social inhibitions, her Mistress claimed Tomo as nothing. Lydia didn’t even think of him as a person anymore. He was simply an object in her Mistress’s ownership.
The village Vecha claimed as her domain was never the same. The people there never returned to normal, and the constant submission to their basest desires plunged the village into chaos. It wasn’t long before most of the villagers were dead from one cause or another.
There were no laws in a land of absolute freedom. Yunwi from neighboring areas stopped visiting quickly after the change. They told stories of the women with the golden eyes who ruled over the chaos.
The place became known as Meska’posat, the Lost Kingdom. None alive today know where the village was. It was so long ago that only myths remain. Yet, those myths remain strong.
It is so burned into their cultural memory, Aria told me the story of Ora the Mattahasha and the corruption of Verana as if she’d been there herself.
I know the Mattahasha by a different name, the one that they call themselves. I’ve met several hellion in my days in Anapolatsia.
I never knew the magic of the forest existed. Humans are not as attuned to the magics as the older races. Or perhaps it’s that we’re too attuned to them all. We see all colors in harmony and find it difficult to parse them into their constituent parts to discover their power.
I see still see them all, but now I see them the way that Ora and Vecha saw them. The way that Ruby and Abigail and Corrine see them. The way Aria sees them. I see through them to the powers they hold.
I have Eliza to thank for that. And Delilah. That may not have been where my story truly began, but it’s a good place to start. Delilah and Henry.