It was late in the evening when Syrus' new Cocoon Master arrived at Koris' house. He wasn't impressed; earlier in the day he'd walked -- all by himself, with no divine minions to aid him -- to the edge of the forest and back. If it took the child that long... well, he supposed all heroes had to start somewhere.

In the mean time, he'd been looking for anything he could on the subject of the sleeping sickness that had taken the town, the curse of the Onibubu. What little he'd been able to find would just send the child-- Levant, his name was-- deeper into the forest. He hoped this new cocoon master was able to think on his feet.

Night was truly falling as he and Levant talked about the mysterious awakening powder mentioned in his books, and he saw also Levant look enviously at the food set out on his table -- simple stew and tortillas, but if he had spent the entire day fighting his way through the spirits of the forest, he was certain to be tired and hungry.

"It grows late," he said after speaking of the Calabas herb, "the minions in the forest will be alert even in the dark -- it would be wise for you to stay here tonight." The child -- Levant, he reminded himself, even if he was less than half his age he was no child, not if he could travel through the forest -- mumbled out some hesitant polite phrases, but Koris simply folded his arms across his chest: "You're in no condition to start the hike back to Syrus, boy. If you are to be any sort of Cocoon Master, you must know your limits and not hesitate to ask for aid when you reach them."

Levant looked almost hurt by that, taken aback, but simply nodded and followed Koris as he poured him a bowl of stew and slid a few tortillas on a plate. They ate in silence, Koris lost in thought and Levant occasionally staring up at Koris, jerking his head back down to his food after a half-second of wide-eyed staring.

The forest was almost dark already, only the dim lamps inside Koris' house bringing light. He pulled a sleeping roll and a few blankets from an alcove in the small room, spreading them across the floor and tossing a stiff pillow on top. "You can sleep here," he said, then motioned upwards to the loft above, "I will be up there." Levant nodded, again staring at Koris as he unbuttoned his tunic, the heavy fabric falling open to reveal thin strips of his chest and stomach, his muscles hard and covered thickly with bushy hair, medium-blond, the same as his long, lank hair. He climbed the ladder up to his loft, Levant making bustling noises as he prepared his sleeping space.

"Douse the lamp before you sleep," Koris called down, pinging the wick of the lamp hung at the top of the ladder as he stepped onto the loft space, shrugging out of his shirt as he untied his pants. He let them drop to the ground and stepped out of them, leaving him clad only in a coiled strip of dull fabric, wound around his waist and between his legs. He removed that too, dropping the long strip of fabric to the floor in a long line. After a moment, Levant snuffed the other lamp and the small house fell into darkness; the only light that of the stars and moon, streaming in through a high window.

Koris slid into bed, thinking of the sounds of the forest. After living here for years he was used to them, but tonight he had a new awareness of them, knowing how unaccustomed Levant must be-- the rustling of the leaves, the sharp creaking of the trees, the faint, distant sounds for forest minions growling and roaring through the night. Those would keep the boy awake long into the night, perhaps. All he knew, however, was that the sounds of Levant downstairs, shifting and turning between the heavy sheets kept him awake longer than he'd like.

He reminded him so much of Riketz, back when they were both boys. They often snuck out of town into the forest, thrilled by the danger of it all. The forest noises at twilight had terrified them, although neither wanted to admit it. And, he and Riketz had started fooling around even younger than Levant was now, childlike fumbling turning into heavy, sweaty rutting as they grew older. After all the years, the thoughts of Riketz still got him hard.

They'd made tentative inroads: grinding against each other, cocks hard had turned into jerking each other off, grunting and groaning in each other's faces. He'd always wanted Riketz to close the distance, push their panting mouths together in a rough kiss. The day he had been the one to do it-- they'd fought, the night before, and he'd landed a blow solidly across his mouth. It was red and swollen, puffy, and he was still angry when Riketz had tried to mend things. When they kissed, it was just as much to hurt him as to bring them together.

His cock stiffened, heavy and thick across his stomach as he thought back. He took it in hand, stroking it slowly as he thought of the angry, pained groan he'd made against Riketz's lips, the memory of it still enough to send a surge of arousal across his body.

He'd opened himself up before Riketz fucked him, first with his fingers. He'd fucked himself lewdly as Riketz looked on, moaning and shuddering. Then he'd used a wooden dildo, stiff and blunt inside him, pushing oddly and new. Riketz had looked him with lust, his eyes hooded and his mouth open, lips still shining with their spit as Koris groaned and gasped, fucking himself. He'd been sprawled out on Riketz' bed, his legs raised up, his half-hard cock drooling out precome against his stomach as he fucked himself. Riketz had been staring from the foot of the bed, cock jutting out rock hard from his body.

He'd come suddenly and explosively, not even knowing he was close until the feeling swept over him in a rush. He'd arched up, groaning long and low, his dick only half-hard but pouring out heavy slugs of come across his stomach, drooling out from his loose foreskin.

Riketz fucked him, rushing forward to yank the dildo from Koris' ass, replacing it with his cock, hilting himself inside instantly. He hadn't lasted more than a few thrusts, spilling his seed inside him only seconds later, gasping out his name. He'd leaned up, to kiss him painfully as he came, then sprawled out on the bed, Riketz between his thighs, come spurting across his thighs as he slipped out.

They'd fucked again not ten minutes later, both hard again. Riketz fucked him again and again, both coming until they ran dry, cocks aching and red.

He stroked faster, then, thinking not only of their first time but of everything they'd done over the years, in a blur of skin and sweat. The scratchy scruff of their beards scraping across their skin, Riketz kissing down his back, his cock stiff and huge sliding down his legs. Koris fucking his mouth, lips rough and red, Riketz's hair dark and sweaty, tousled further by his hand as he pulled him back and forth, Riketz slurping on his dick.

He came hard, biting down on his pillow to stifle his moan. He spurted out in white streamers across his hairy chest, cock pumping as he thrust through his fist, hips thumping down repeatedly on the heavy mattress, a constant staccato thump to match each spurt of come.

He stroked his cock a final time, squeezing the flushed red tip between his thumb and forefinger, biting down on his lip as a low groan tore from his mouth.

He sprawled out on his mattress, sheet pushed down past his feet, entire body bare to the night air, sweat and come slowly drying on his skin. His cock was heavy and softening across his hips. He skimmed his fingers through the thick lines of come across his chest, strings of it enmeshed in his hair, and sunk back, exhaling in a long sigh.

Morning came early, as it always did. Koris opened his eyes, still drowsy after the last night's disturbed sleep. He squinted at the sharp rays of light pouring inside, shining directly in his eyes -- it was a little earlier than he usually woke, but he might as well make the most of it and get up, unless he wanted to oversleep. He practically rolled out of bed, scratching his bare stomach, fingers scraping across the dried, flaking mess of come. He wrapped a clean length of fabric around himself, covering his morning wood with the soft white cloth, pulling it under his legs and winding it into a cord, wrapping it around his waist until it was secured, his cock creating a heavy bulge in the thin cloth.

He climbed down the ladder, sparing a glance down at Levant, still asleep on the floor, blankets wrapped in a tangle around his legs. He moved quietly past him, to the barred back door that let out into a small clearing, rain barrel near the door. This was where he did his morning exercises, keeping himself in shape for when he had to fight the minions that came too close to his house.

His routine was a simple one, and he fell into it with the ease of long routine-- various slow stretches, to wake himself up from his sleep, followed by some more active exercises to exercise his entire body. The whole set took over an hour, a long set of continuous motion that always left him breathless and sweaty, his hair tangled and matted against his face and neck. He was mostly finished with it, running through the motions of fighting-- hooking out with his leg as he dropped to a crouch, swinging as if he was tripping someone-- when he felt Levant's gaze on him, the boy visible from the corner of his eye, staring at him from the back door, the top half still swung open like he had left it. With the ease of routine, he continued with his exercise even distracted by that, until he could focus again and continue, finishing up the last motions in the next few minutes.

He finally did finish, straightening up in the center of the clearing, sweat pouring down across his body, breath coming faster but still steady and measured. He turned and headed back to his house, Levant ducking back from the inside as he turned in what was probably an attempt to hide his staring from Koris, as if he hadn't already noticed.

He stopped at the rain barrel and dunked his bucket into it, then brought it up high and upended it above his head, the water flowing down his body and washing away his sweat. He paused, breathing sharply from the cold water, then did it again.

His hair was dripping wet, a dark blond now as he pulled it back to flow down his back, reaching just below his shoulders. Drops twisted through his short beard, dropping out to splatter back into the barrel. His body hair, too, was plastered to his body, several shades darker now with thin lines of water still winding down his chest and back, droplets of water forming on his stiff nipples and soaking through the light fabric of his undergarment.

He shrugged and shook his head, water flying from his head and shoulders, then headed inside. Levant had scuttled away from the door the second he thought Koris might notice him, but once he entered the house, latching the door behind him, Levant stared at him nonstop. His eyes raked up and down Koris' body, staring wide-eyed at his thick thighs; his turgid dick, jutting out against his soaked-through underwear, his heavy balls behind it; his muscular, hairy chest, dripping with water.

"You should return to the village," Koris said simply, looking at Levant as he kept staring at him. "You are the new cocoon master of Syrus, and you have important tasks set before you. Remember: the Calabas herb, owned by Kikinak in the Dragonfly forest."

Levant nodded absentmindedly, his staring slightly less overt but still pronounced. Still, he left Koris' house willingly enough, setting off on the path back to the village with only a single, lingering backwards glance. Koris snorted as he finally rounded the bend, out of sight -- Levant was apparently just like his father, always thinking with his dick. It had gotten Riketz in trouble, too.

It was a few days before Levant returned. Koris was inside, wiping clean the dishes from his evening meal, and as soon as he heard the knock he knew it could only be Levant.

He looked a little different -- he'd clipped his hair a little, so that it would be less likely to get in his eyes, and his skin was a darker shade of tan, his forearms covered with shallow, scabbed-over scratches from brambles. His muscles, even, were a little more pronounced, and he carried himself less like an awkward youth unaware of the ways of the forest and closer to that of a hunter.

"Levant," Koris said flatly, already knowing what this was about.

"I spoke to Kikinak, of the Dragonfly Forest," Levant said, eagerly, like he was waiting for Koris to praise him for his efforts. "I received the Calabas powder, and it is being used to wake some of the townsfolk."

"Come in," he said, standing aside to allow Levant to pass inside. Out of long habit, he closed and locked the door as soon as Levant had entered, then turned to look at him. "Levant," he said, although he doubted his attention had ever wavered from him. He was still looking up at him with eyes full of lust, staring at his upper arm, where his tunic pulled back a little every time he moved his arms. "We cocoon masters have a duty we must uphold," he said, recalling the bitter memories of when had parted with Riketz. "And you have allowed yourself to become distracted."

Levant looked at him, confused, but with his guilt shown as plainly as it had been written across his face.

"You have come here, seeking..." and here Koris paused, his tact rusty from such a long time in the forest. "...certain things," he finally ventured, although from Levant's expression he might have well have said what they both knew he meant. "and you have forgotten that your duty lies with the village, and not with some forgotten old cocoon master."

Levant shook his head, and opened his mouth to disagree, but Koris held up a hand and he stopped with his mouth hanging open.

"What you desire..." Koris said, and he felt a certain humor in seeing Levant flush, "consumes you, now. You ought to be thinking of those in the village stricken by the Onibubu, and of your task to save them." He took a step closer, and Levant craned his head higher to keep looking at his face. "Instead you think only of me."

Levant blushed darker at that, but he at last found the resolve to speak, even with Koris looking at him in disapproval. "Is it wrong?" he said, his voice awkward and choked. "I-i want this," he continued, voice easing as he hit his stride. "I want this... from you. Koris. Ever since I saw you, t-that morning, I can't stop..." he said, and trailed off, face beet red.

"I know," Koris said, and stepped forward again, so that they were almost touching. "You're so like your father," he said with a sigh. "You want me, but... you have a job to do."

Levant stared at him, face flushed, his whole body tense and trembling.

Koris sighed. "Your father never could look past what he wanted to see his duties, either," Until he had, and that had been the hardest thing he'd ever done, letting Riketz go.

"Levant. ...and you a child, anyway. I'm sure there are others, in the village..." Koris shook his head. "Someone more your own age." He thought back to him and Riketz again, their days spent in the forests and their nights in bed.

Levant looked aside, guilty. "Well... I suppose. But I can't stop thinking about..." he said, and trailed off, hand outstretched like he wanted to tough him but didn't quite have the courage to actually place his hand on his body.

Koris grabbed his hand, frozen in place, trembling slightly, and pressed it against his chest. "Levant. You can never have me in the way you want... but I suppose I can't have you getting distracted even more." He thought of after they had parted, how he had been almost killed a half-dozen times by minions in the forest in the months immediately after Riketz had left him.

Levant almost looked confused as Koris stepped aside and headed to the ladder to the loft. "Follow me," he said as he stepped onto the lowest rung, and after a second he heard Levant follow.

Koris felt the tension inside him knot up in tangles as he climbed, the sound of Levant clattering up the latter behind him drowning out the sound of his own footfalls on the ladder slats. The boy was so young, but he was the same age he and Riketz had been, back then. And he was Riketz's son. But the ladder wasn't long enough for him to agonize over all his scruples, and soon he was standing above, on the loft, with Levant scrambling up the final rungs. He was blushing and didn't seem to know what to do with his hands once he got to his feet. He stood there awkwardly, unable to meet Koris' gaze.

"Levant," he said, and his head whipped up, his hands clenching into fists at his sides. "Come here." They were only a few steps away, and not a step behind Koris was his bed, but Levant stepped forward anyway until their bodies were almost touching.

"You need to understand," Koris started, not entirely sure how to say it and make Levant know it was important. "You are the cocoon master now. The village needs you. It is not a task you can finish, something you can work hard at and complete. You need to spend your days, every day, making sure Syrus can survive, and then you need to get up in the morning and do it again, over and over. That is what it means to be the cocoon master: to spend the rest of your life striving so that others can live."

"It's not fair," came Levant's voice, weak and cracking in the middle.

Koris shook his head and pulled Levant into a hug. "No, it's not. But it's what you have to do, because if you falter then the village will fall and the forest will take their bones. And if you don't do it, they will find someone else. You can desert your duty, but it will fall on someone else to take it up." This was what Riketz had told him, finally, in the end. He could leave, but another would step into his place. If he lived free it would mean dooming someone else to take it for him. Ironic that it was him repeating the same thing now to his son. He had left, and Riketz had left, and now the burden had fallen onto Levant. If Levant knew... it wouldn't matter. They'd both made their choices.

"You can't let yourself go astray like this, Levant. I am... useless to you. I can't help you in your struggles, and time is always short. You can't come to me like this." Levant's grip around him tightened, then fell away. "I know how you think of me," Koris said with a slight smile, "and it's... flattering. But I can't be with you like that, either. You need to think of the village only, not... not some old hermit like myself."

Levant stepped back, out of his embrace, and Koris let him go. He was still flushing bright red but he held his gaze now. "So...," he said, and his voice cracked again as he said it.

Koris shook his head and smiled. "So, you have already wasted your time. It is late, and more dangerous fiends prowl the forest. Even though you have grown stronger you're still a novice, and I would be far remiss to let you travel back until dawn." He spread his arms slightly and looked down across his body. "So, this once, you can get what you want."

Levant stammered something out, awkward and unsteady, and Koris clasped his hands, pulling them so Levant touched his chest, fingers splayed, palms spread flat. Levant fell silent as they stood there together, until after what felt like an hour Levant moved his hands. He nervously looked up at Koris, like he wasn't sure this was what he should be doing, and Koris nodded back at him slightly, as if to grant him permission.

Levant felt across Koris' chest, staring at his hands, aware of the weight of Koris' gaze on him. Koris' tunic was a simple affair, obviously hand-stitched, and he could feel Koris though it, the solidity of his body, the heat of his skin. Koris was muscled all over, not powerfully or excessively, just the kind of muscle one developed from use; shoulders and chest rounded from lifting and carrying, stomach hard but not defined, back layers of muscle overlapping.

Levant had stepped closer to touch the slope of Koris' back, his fingers sliding down to the small of his back in a touch that seemed more intimate than what they were doing -- but Koris smiled inwardly; what they were doing was at times intimate and at times perfunctory and he wasn't sure if either of them knew which it was now -- and Levant seemed to catch himself, stepping back, still looking away.

Koris raised his arm, wrapping it lightly around Levant's upper arm, and Levant's fingers stilled, brushing against Koris' stomach. "No," Koris said. "Keep going, if you want."

So Levant stepped forward again, his blush fading, slowly, even as he touched the small of Koris' back, hands moving down to finally touch skin, under his tunic, just above the waist of his pants. He looked right at Koris' face as he slid his hand lower, across his ass, and then between his thighs, sliding with the lightest of touches across the outer curve of his thigh, to the bulge of his dick.

"Go on," Koris said, and Levant's fingers closed, sliding over the taut, heated bulge, gripping tighter, touching and coaxing his cock, making it larger and larger. It swelled huger, becoming a thick lump, and Levant slid up to the waist of his pants again, rubbing his palms against Koris' stomach. He shoved one hand up, grinding across the hair on his belly, all the way up between his pectorals. He reached down with the other, picking at Koris' rope belt, until he had to raise his hands and undo it for him. Levant ran his fingers up and down the length of Koris' fly. His cock distended it, the shape clearly defined, the laces drawn taut.

Levant pinched one of his nipples, drawing out a surprised breath, and Levant's gaze jerked up from his cock, taking in his pushed-up tunic and flushed face. He stepped towards him, slowly pulling them both to the ground, kneeling there. Koris' legs were spread wide, the lump of his cock inviting Levant's touch, and he stroked and rubbed the trapped length.

He finally tugged at the laces, parting the fabric and letting Koris' cock out. The length flopped out, erect and jutting straight out. The skin along his cock was slightly darker than was across his paler thighs, and his shaft curved upwards slightly. His hair was a thick tangle of dark blond hairs, all around his cock and traveling up into his tunic, draped down over his stomach.

Levant stared at it, and finally hesitantly reached out and touched it, fingers just barely clasping around its girth as he stroked it, rolling Koris' heavy foreskin back and forth over the head. Koris groaned, a wet spurt of fluid seeping from the tip and spreading across his cockhead as Levant stroked him.

Koris slowly reached out to Levant, resting his large, broad hands over Levant's hips, and slowly slid them down, over the bulge of his own cock, trapped inside his pants. Levant flushed, lips parted as he stared down at Koris' hands, slowly but easily unlacing his pants and letting his cock stick up, small and light enough that it stuck straight up across his belly, pale and hard. His foreskin was partly retracted over the head, just the tip of his cock revealed, a dark red, with a pearl of precome clasped at the tip, rippling and sliding down to the rim of his foreskin as Levant's cock twitched in Koris' grip.

Levant released Koris' cock and grabbed at the hem of his tunic, dragging it up and over his head, leaving him bare-chested. The thick line of his pubes traveled up his stomach and dispersed into a wide fan of lightly bond hairs across his chest, spread all across his muscled pectorals.

Levant tugged at the waist of Koris' pants, and he obligingly shuffled out of them, revealing his low-hanging balls and muscled thighs, tapering to his rough-skinned knees before swelling out into muscled calves.

"Uh," Levant said, lips parted, mouth dry. He licked his lips and swallowed. He lurched forward, pressing his body against Koris' front, his dick pressing against Koris' heavy, lengthy cock. "Would you... turn around?" he said, again looking aside as Koris looked down at him.

Koris twisted around, Levant's cock streaking a line of precome over the ridge of his hip, back over the curve of his muscled ass. Levant slid his fingers between Koris' thighs, tracing the ridges and hollows his muscles made, and then thrust forward, sliding his cock between, the head just barely nuzzling his low-hanging balls as he thrust all the way in. His breath hitched and he pulled back and did it again, slowly starting a rhythm as he thrust between Koris' clenched thighs.

Levant's body shuddered with his thrusts, his cock eagerly leaking precome, smearing across the back of Koris' balls. Levant reached forward and stroked Koris' cock, hands wrapping around his much larger shaft, thick and heavy and soft to the touch with a core so hard it might as well be rock. Koris groaned and ran his hands across Levant's wrists, holding his hands over Levant's as the boy stroked him off.

Levant came almost embarrassingly quickly, moaning sharply as his sprayed his come across Koris' thighs, spurting up over his balls, quickly working the glistening threads of come into a dull smear as he kept thrusting slowly.

He slowed, coming to a rest with his body pressed up against Koris', his cock sticky and tacky between his thighs. "I want you to..." Levant mumbled against Koris' neck, looking away when Koris twisted around to look at him.

Koris rolled onto his back and pulled Levant astride him, his erect cock slid up against Levant's softening one, sticky with come, and he pulled Levant down, until he was lying on top of him. He tugged Levant's trousers down, and pushed his tunic up, baring his naked body from mid-thigh to his chest. He shifted, angling slightly until his cock popped up between Levant's thighs, rubbing against his balls and the base of his shaft. The slight curve of his shaft made his cockhead nudge against the swell of Levant's ass, and as he started thrusting, slowly, he dimpled Levant's pale, soft skin.

Levant remained on top of him, his cock slowly stirring to life between them as Koris kept his pace of slow, steady thrusts, dragging his cock back and forth between his legs, moisture slowly gathering from his precome and their wet, until he slid smoothly. Koris pulled them together, his broad hands spread across Levant's ass, grinding the boy's body down against him, his cock sliding through the tight tunnel between his legs.

Levant's cock stirred, erect between them, and as Koris thrust Levant reached down, stroking himself off and coming in a sudden rush, a few pearly white spurts of fluid splattering between them, mussing the hair across Koris' stomach.

Koris kept the same slow rolling thrusts the entire way through. His orgasm built slowly, slowly ratcheting up and up until with a groan he came, his ejaculation spurting up into the air and streaking heavy lines across Levant's back, following the curve of his back to the swell of his ass. They slowly stilled, Levant flushed and breathing hard astride Koris. Their sweat cooled as they lay there; Koris' cock slowly went flaccid between Levant's thighs, still slick with his come.

Eventually Levant stood, his legs shaking, and Koris sat up. "Um," Levant said, looking away, tucking his mussed hair back behind one ear. "Thank you."

Koris sighed. "I'm sorry I can't be there for you. As Cocoon Master, there are certain things only you can do."

Levant shrugged and looked away, already grasping his clothes and pulling them back on. "I know," he said, lowly, almost a whisper.

Koris lightly touched his bare hip. "Stay the night. Cocoon Master though you may be, the fiends that wake now are far beyond your ability." Levant stilled, one leg of his pants on, pulled almost up to the shiny smear along his inner thighs. "I know I cannot be what you want, but I can still be something for you, for now," Koris said, and Levant slowly let his clothes drop.

Koris kissed him again and slowly drew him down, holding him loosely in his arms as the final light of day faded from the forest.