She descends the white stairs, perfumed and adored. She makes the men whirl, the women a-whore. She brings us enjoyment, She brings us delight.

For She is Lust and perfect in every way.

“O Sakrisan, O Priest of the Temple of E-ana I call for you. O holy Inanna does call for the Sakrisan of my Temple. Come unto me O faithful man of mine.”

His cheek crushed against the rough stone floor; the Sakrisan E-Azad-kutu-ana opened his eyes a crack. At first there was nothing; then a blur of orange and red. Slowly his vision focused and through the heat and the haze of the flame he could see the outline of a woman stood at the East entrance. She was short, tanned and had long black hair, all else was obscured by the flames between them. Grunting, he closed his eyes. Drool began to accumulate and rivulets of saliva fled from his mouth.

“O E-Azad-kutu-ana, I call for you; your Goddess Inanna calls for you. For She is most lonesome and alone. The Holy Inanna is lonesome and in need of your sweet company.

His eyes flicked open at the mention of his name. The figure beyond the fire was leaning back against the wall of the entrance; arms raised high and head writhing. Another large stone fell from the ceiling and shattered on the floor sending debris flying and forcing a wracked cough from Azad’s lungs. A fine layer of dust settled like snow over his face. It was peaceful once more. Sleep beckoned.

“Look unto me O Sakrisan of my temple; look unto your Queen Inanna. For the moon herself would bless our union. For Nanna herself lends her light to our lust.”

Grumbling an incoherent murmur from cracked and dusty lips, Azad groggily looked to the East once more. There, in the doorway stood the woman. She was formed like a star, with arms and legs wide apart. Her head was tilted back into the gaze of a full moon, giving her face the visage of a silver landscape. Her beautiful face. Wide clear eyes of brown, small nose and chin with a twisted smile that invited further attention.

He tried to raise himself; arms weakened and choking, with soot and dust streaked face he looked again at the woman. She was dressed in strands of gold, a dagger on her waist, the pommel shaped like an ibex leaping. She looked at him and stooping to a crouch, beckoned with her index finger and sang sweetly:

“O mortal man, crawl unto your Queen. O Inanna needs your flesh by her flesh; needs your flesh by her flesh and sweat and tears to mingle. O come unto the holy Inanna, for the Heavens await.”

Azad choked again on the smoke, it was rapidly filling the Temple. Flame crept up the walls, blackening the stone. Huge beams of oak chopped and lovingly carved into the great supports of the upper floors were alight. The blaze was everywhere, yet the Sakrisan sat within a circle of safety where no flame had entered. He dragged himself forward, his legs and feet numb and useless. Grasping the gaps between the floor stones, he pulled himself toward the edge of the circle of flame. He would need to stand to reach the woman. On trying to rise up, his lame legs gave way and sent him crashing against the floor, splintering a tooth as his face collided with unyielding stone.

The woman laughed gaily as a songbird. She sang once more for her troubled and embattled love:

“O joy of my heart, O heat in my thighs; you must come to your holy Queen, for she needs you now.”

Grunting he pulled himself back onto his front and crawled through the flame. The agony was unbearable for the flame licked and consumed him; searing flesh and burning hair. Beyond the circle, Azad felt strength return to his limbs and rose. The woman was a wonder of wonders, dancing in the moonlight with the doorway framing her splendour. She looked to Azad and smiled; slowly untying a strand of gold and letting it slide away revealing a sliver of thigh around which was tied a red cloth strip. The strand of golden weave fluttered to the floor and hissed before disintegrating to ash. Behind him, a stone crashed once more to the floor but he was unaware, caught within the trap of her beauty and sensuality.

In a trance state he stumbled towards her, arms hanging limply by his sides, his glorious robes of office relegated to tattered artefacts of another life. She laughed once more at the sight of her love, the sight of his will to meet for their blessed tryst.

“O my lord and lad what battles you have fought in; in what battles you have slain many to come unto me dressed so. O my sweet Sakrisan, your clothes are unbecoming; your clothes are unbecoming of your holy Queen.”

She turned from him. He cried aloud and raised his strength-less arms. He tried to shout for her to look back. The woman peered back over her shoulder and with drowsy eyes, untied another strand revealing a glance of back and further more. With a guttural moan he stumbled forwards to the entrance of the Temple; a beam fell and struck a blow to his shoulder, sending him sprawling not five strides from the archway. She turned to him and crouched once more, blowing her aromatic breath to him. It smelt of pomegranate and plum, he could taste the sweet fruit. Her finger beckoned him once more, with long nails and rings. Bangles of metal on her arms striking together in harmonious rapture.

Azad rose and walked once more, his pilgrimage almost complete. She looked to him and smiles alluringly as he approached. The chaos of the Temple behind him, flames wild in their hunger as they tore through the holy enclosure. Rock melted as the heat soared from his hunger for her. The tinkling of her laughter resounded once more.

To Chapter Seventy-Two – For She is Glory and Perfect in Every Way

Cover: The Hindu Goddess Rati Divu
From: Pinterest