My name is Asteria. With the autumn moon round and full, I am now twenty-five.
I am today’s sacrifice.
The matriarchs drape me in white. A slip beaded with glittering sea glass peeks out from under my skirt. The delicate lace lining the collar of the dress extends down my torso. The waves and droplets hide my nipples, which stiffen and rise as they rub against the rough netting. I lower my eyes and smile demurely as the matriarchs weave forget-me-nots into my jet-black hair and make the last adjustments to my ceremonial outfit. My eyelids have been dusted gold, my lips painted scarlet, my cheeks blushed with rouge.
The white of the dress is meant to symbolize my virginity. But I was no longer a virgin by the time I was eighteen. I’d tried to quench every desire myself, my hand thrust between my legs, fingers slick, hot, toying with my open cunt, my hips bucking, bolts of pleasure shooting through me as I grazed a nail against my clit. It was never enough. I needed another heart beating through mine, another person’s breaths to swallow.
It’s an open secret that only perhaps half of the chosen adhere to our virginity vows. I am one of the ones who don’t. I have found myself with the taste of the ocean against my lips as I looked up into another woman’s eyes, my tongue deep in her as she trembled against me and moaned. I’ve had a man’s cock buried to the hilt in me as he pressed my face into the cold stone of the cellar floor, keeping my hips high in the air for him to take. I’ve come as one man fucked me against a wall while another watched, his dark eyes smoldering in the midnight light; I’ve pressed hard against the solid crest of a person’s pubic bone as I fingered them, their lips full and flushed, their hole a dripping wet mess.
It’s easy to find someone to couple with. But I have wondered too, even while pleasure bites through me, whether the Minotaur will know that I haven broken my virginity vow.
“We are gathered here today…”
A censer swings, unfurling incense through the air. The sunlight softens as it slants through the smoke into a diffuse glow that gilds even the high-arched ceilings of the temple hall.
“…to pay our thanks to our dearest Asteria…”
The hierophant paints the tattooed mark on my forehead crimson as a pair of pages adjusts the laces on my cloven-footed shoes. A few people chance a look up through their veils, only to look away quickly, afraid to be caught staring. My resplendence is not meant for the villagers, who are expected to avert their gaze out of reverence.
“…for her honored sacrifice.”
The hierophant, pages, and matriarchs step away. Only the priestess remains beside me, intoning her blessings as I try my best to center myself and steady my racing heart.
“May the afterlife reward her well. May our lands be at peace.”
With my head held high, I step into the Minotaur’s maze.
This is what I know about the Minotaur.
The legend goes that, hundreds of years ago, the sea bequeathed upon the king a beautiful white bull to sacrifice for good fortune. But the king kept the bull and sacrificed an ordinary one instead. The queen fell in love with the bull, and from their unholy union came the Minotaur, full of the sea’s rage and whims, ready to channel that power into destroying the kingdom.
Summoned by news of the monster’s ruthlessness, the finest warriors across the land arrived to prove their prowess and slay the beast. Armed with swords, bows and arrows, pikes, glaives, harpoons, maces, hammers, axes, every myriad type of weapon, they charged into the Minotaur’s lair, ready to bring his head back as a trophy.
None of them returned alive.
Unable to placate the Minotaur, the king had no choice but to trap him inside a maze and provide sacrifices to sate his bloodlust. The choosing ceremony was passed down through generations to ensure a steady supply of sacrifices. Every spring, the kingdom gathers all newborns. A sheep is led to the altar, where it is slaughtered and its entrails read. The chosen children are tattooed on the centers of their foreheads with the mark of the sacrifice: twin crescents, turned outward like horns. The mark is a reminder to all that the sacrifice must remain illustrious, virgin, docile, and tame to placate the Minotaur. Only that way may everyone in the kingdom live peaceful lives.
For the most part, people honor and revere the chosen. We are living martyrs waiting our turn to die. I receive gifts on my doorstep: baskets full of pomegranates and oranges, bread still fresh and steaming, sausages slick with the light’s sheen. I take them inside before the sea breeze can encrust them with salt. It’s often the only food I have. Making a living as a person destined to be a sacrifice is difficult. We are said to harbor the spirit of death, and few want death to linger beneath their roofs.
Some, however, see the chosen as conquests. We are territory to be claimed.
The first boy I went to bed with was beautiful: raven-haired, dark-eyed, his skin warm and golden like a fawn’s. He’d seen my mark and grinned, lewd and hungry. There was something dangerous about the way his eyes glinted when he saw me from across the sun plaza.
I wanted that energy.
We slipped away from the bustling crowds and through a courtyard, then an alley, then through low brush and chaparral, until we found a clearing among the cypress trees lining the rocky coast.
“Is this your first time doing something like this?” he asked, pressing me up against a tree trunk, hands grabbing every part of me, squeezing as if to prove I was real.
“Yes,” I said between deep kisses, my own hands tracing their way down to his cock. He was already hard, warm and heavy in my palm.
“Good,” he said. “I want to be your first.”
So he was. It was quick and rough. He left his cum in me as if to prove he’d been there. I’d felt some pleasure, but it was over too fast for me to peak like I do when I fuck myself.
Only afterward did I discover that he and his friends had had a bet—five silver sycee to the first one who could tempt a chosen one to break their chastity vow.
I suppose I could have felt used, and I did, for a moment. But more than all, I craved equal conquest. I realized then that only my tongue could reveal whether I was a virgin or not. So long as I lied, I could be everyone’s first. If they could only see me as a person to fuck and never a person to love, then I would turn that into a power I could own. Soon, I lived off their worship. Whatever role they wanted me to play, whether the unspoiled virgin or the secret slut, I would.
The power to command desire gives me a heady thrill. Holding a person’s vitality, controlling that energy and arousal, knowing that I am both the cause and the end of it—I drink it all down.
And I will keep drinking until the day I’m given back to the sea.
After only a few turns, I’m lost in the maze. Even if I wanted to run out, I wouldn’t be able to find my way back. Entire sections have grown wild, thorny with brush and weeds, choked with wild grasses and creeping vines. There’s a taste of the sea on the breeze, but mostly the air smells of damp and decay, mixed with something deeply animal. I trace my fingers along the stonework of the walls when it shows through, telling myself that, so long as I keep turning in the same direction, I’ll reach the center.
But as I face dead end after dead end, I begin to have doubts.
The walls reach up to an open sky. I raise a hand to meet the light—about an hour until sundown. Wind-hewn stones embedded into the earth have been left in place, making the path uneven. Once it’s dark, I’ll hardly be able to see my steps.
Soon, the sky goes pink. Twilight washes over the world, dissolving the boundaries between objects, bleeding shadow into the light. My skin prickles with the chill of night. My outfit isn’t meant to shield me from the elements. I’m not expected to live long enough to need to weather them, after all.
Just as the heavens plunge into complete darkness, the masonry of the walls gives way to natural slabs of rock, signaling that I have entered the Minotaur’s cave in the mountains. The sea winds condense here, slicking every surface with the tang of ocean debris left to rot. Sound behaves differently within these walls, reverberating and resonating in on itself, masking some sounds, magnifying others. The heavy heels of my cloven-footed shoes clack against the smooth floor, echoing back like rainfall. A dank animal stink muffles the air. I pass a spot where the sharp odor of old urine knifes into my nose. Decomposition’s rancid stench replaces the earthy scent of foliage decaying. There are bones scattered throughout—human, oddly weightless as I kick them aside, their hollow clattering joining the other sounds whispering through the cave.
I don’t know what I expect the Minotaur to look like. His form changes slightly with every retelling. Even now, as I round the last of the turns, I wonder if the Minotaur is truly a beast. Perhaps the queen’s love for a bull gifted by the sea is nothing more than a metaphor for an illicit attraction, and the monster in the center is only human. Maybe the tale of the Minotaur isn’t even true; maybe our sacrificial rites were invented as a way to terrorize a kingdom for political gain. I half expect the center of the maze to be empty, and for me to die not from being gutted by a beast, but from thirst as I try to escape.
I round the last corner. Warm, flickering light licks the cavern walls. Fragrant smoke suffuses through the air as the crackling magnifies, echoing off the walls and the high ceiling. A low rattle undercuts every sound, steady, rising and falling.
As I step out of the final stretch of the maze, I realize that the rattling is the sound of the Minotaur breathing.
Clothed in a few tattered furs, he is a hulking figure, muscle and sinew limned copper by the roaring fire, skin brown until it meets the bull parts of him, where he becomes a ripple of coarse brown hair like a burl. The arc of his horns matches the crescents tattooed onto my forehead, but his are thick and rough, yellowed like old fingernails. Even from behind, with his broad and solid back to me, I can tell that his heavy, massive head isn’t shaped like a human’s. His fists are boulders, his cloven feet pillars. His thighs look as if they could crush galaxies.
He looks over his shoulder.
I freeze as our eyes meet. Some part of me was hoping that his eyes would be like a cow’s, richly brown, docile, heavily ringed with dark eyelashes. But he is no cow—he is hardly even a bull. His eyes are furious, laced red with capillaries, pupils constricted, bovine in size but human in the intensity of their anger. I can’t look away. I thought I’d have to look hard to find a soul in that sea of ire, but I tremble with the fullness of his soul on display. He bleeds rage. His soul breathes violence. His shoulders heave as he inhales, nostrils flaring, revealing a glint of gold: a ring pierced through his septum.
“H-hello,” I say, unsure of whether the Minotaur can even understand me. His nostrils flare again, as if he’s taking in the rosewater dabbed on my neck and wrists. Even as terror grips me, I find myself taking step after step toward to him, drawn in by his raw ferocity. Every grotesque detail of the Minotaur becomes clear. Warmed by the fire, every scent overpowers me. Still, there’s something attractive about the smells—concentrated musk, humid sweat, bright sage trapped in fallen cypress trunks, oxidized blood, rank waste that somehow makes me long for the dirty gutters of the village.
I have lived my whole life for this creature. It feels only just to take him all in.
“I’m… I’m yours to do as you wish,” I say.
The cave shakes with the weight of the Minotaur’s steps as he turns to face me. His chest, the only part of him that resembles a human, is thick with muscle that distorts his form, rendering the familiar alien.
I wonder whether his chest hides a human heart, engorged in its cage, cut ragged and raw with blades of coursing emotion. My blood, too, has been set aflame by fury before. In those moments, my skin is too tight over my body, like the peel of a persimmon about to burst. But the intensity of that energy lasts only a second, even if its undertow drags me into the dark. For the Minotaur to relentlessly embody that destructive power, taut like a bowstring forever drawn, ready to be fired and strike—I blink away the stinging in my eyes, wondering if his heart is a thin-skinned thing too, ready to burst.
Unsure of what to do, I take the traditional sacrificial pose: one hand behind the small of my back, one hand on my sternum, head bowed, nape of the neck exposed. I lick my lips and taste his next breaths, hot with the stench of wild, uncleaned teeth.
He moves strikingly fast for a creature of his size. The moment I take my eyes away from him, the cavern quakes with his strides. His massive palm closes around my arm. I yelp. His grip is tight—too tight. His fingertips grind my meat against my bones, leaving my skin white under their pressure. He hauls me up as if I weigh nothing more than a rat, bringing me level with his enormous, furious eyes, his pupils widening despite the firelight, devouring me in their endless black. This close, I can’t help but notice how his nose still looks velvety smooth like a cow’s. Before I realize what I’m doing, my free arm reaches out to stroke him and the metal through his flesh. I expect him to pull back or to fling me away, but instead, my fingertips touch him. Dwarfed by his mass, my knuckles look delicate as knobby twigs.
His lip curls back in a sneer. He lets go of my arm and grabs me by my thighs instead, spreading my legs wide. My skirt hikes up my hips. Despite my fear—or maybe because of it—I can’t help but to feel aroused. I know that he’ll fuck me. He is a creature born not just of fury, but of lust. I don’t resist when he tears the white lace of my undergarments, just enough to expose my pussy, leaving the unraveled lace still clinging to my hips and ass.
He doesn’t bother to set me down. As I scream, he tightens his hold on my thighs and lets me hang upside-down. My thighs ache in his fevered, unbridled grasp.
Something hot and wet nudges at the folds of my cunt. I gasp, startled by the familiar electricity awakening in me. I jerk up just in time to catch a glimpse of his tongue before it enters me, tawny and firm and strong, as thick as a cock itself. I groan at the entry. He withdraws to taste my lips, my clit, the juices dripping from my cunt, drawing cries from my throat.
I realize then when I’m wracked not just with terror, but also bliss, that there is no shame in enjoying this. If my entire life’s worth is based on my illusory virginity, then why should I see the death I’ve been raised for as yet another shame?
Desire is not shame. Shame is learned, then unlearned. So I relinquish all shame now and let myself feel without its presence interpreting every sensation for me.
The Minotaur runs his tongue along my cunt in broad strokes, the muscle heavy and firm, weighty like a limb. He pushes his nose between my legs. I flush as the warm metal of the ring in his septum presses up to my clit.
There’s no one to judge me but myself. I may as well feel pleasure while caught in the grasp of a beast.
As he inhales my every human scent and laps at my tart wetness, I rock against the polished metal adorning him, heat unfurling in me like a sunrise glazing the ocean’s waves gold. I moan and reach my first shuddering orgasm as he plunges his tongue into me again, the tip dragging along my pubic ridge as he withdraws. My heart’s already adrenaline-pumped with terror. The climax rips a scream from my throat. Around others, I have to be conscious of how loud I am—I can’t risk being discovered. But there are no consequences for discovery here. Liberating, the way it doesn’t matter if I howl like a bitch in heat, or if climax tugs ugly grunts from my lungs.
It’s better to face death unrestrained.
As I’m still trembling with the comedown of my orgasm, the Minotaur flings me into the air. Shrieking, my heart ready to burst from my chest, I plummet back into his waiting hand. He sets me on a slab of shining obsidian, darkly luminous as the night sky. Copper candle holders mottled with a patina of brown and blue surround the altar haphazardly, the wax in them no more than thin coatings. Whatever ritual once practiced here has gone with time. Now, the altar sees no use more profound than that of a butcher’s block. Parts of the obsidian are crusted over with dried blood, caked with desiccated viscera.
I’m level with the Minotaur’s waist now. I look up at him, expecting some kind of acknowledgement, perhaps—even cows can indicate their pleasure or displeasure. But the Minotaur remains silent except for animal grunts and snorts, none in response to my actions or words. He swats my knees apart, his furs pushed to one side, revealing his cock. I don’t know why I thought he’d have a human cock—maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part to make the beast more familiar. But his cock juts red and long from his loins, slim and tapered against the backdrop of his muscled body. It’s a couple inches in diameter, but its length needs to be described in feet.
“W-wait—” I stammer.
He pushes his cock into me, slowly, steadily, as if to test how much my quivering cunt can take. I cover my face and let my legs fall open as I whimper, spread deliciously open, his entrance an invasion I welcome, even as I gasp and squirm when he bottoms out with barely a third of his cock in me.
“Oh gods,” I breathe, not daring to shift for fear of being speared through. His cock isn’t much thicker than I’m used to, but the head is slimmer, more violating as it probes. I run my teeth over my lower lip and bite down, hoping the tender sting will distract from the sight and sensation of him buried in me. But he shifts his weight, hooves clattering, jostling his cock in me, wrenching a gasp from my throat. The feeling of a cock pressed hard against my cervix can be a punch that aches behind my navel, but it can also bring me shuddering ecstasy. His first blow is like having my heart yanked through my belly, bringing tears to my eyes as I cry out. He withdraws slightly, leaving me to catch my breath, one hand on my belly, his cock long and visible even over the crests of my breasts and belly.
He is horrifying, monstrous, grotesque.
And I want nothing more than to be destroyed by him.
He pays no mind to whether or not I experience pleasure as he works into a rhythm, thrusting shallowly into me, his stamping and snorts louder than my whimpers. Gods. There’s something thrilling about being treated like meat. The human body has disgusted me as much as it’s fascinated me. Even as the Minotaur ravages me, washing me in equal parts pain and pleasure with no one to hear my wails, I can’t help but notice the obscene way my cunt spills over with lust and want, salt and slick painting my thighs, glazing his cock, dripping down into the dip of my asshole.
The body and the mind are one. As much as I have calmed my body through my mind, I have also calmed my mind through my body. The overwhelming sensation renders my thoughts quiet as I’m lost in the bliss of the moment, the present tense. Reveling in the messy leak of my body, taking it for the meat it is, for the animal I am, arousal as instinct, I melt into the sweat and spit and slick, opening my sopping pussy to his conquest. He fucks me like I’m a rag doll, his cum thick and hot as it shoots onto me. He doesn’t break his stride with each load. Soon, I’m a milky wreck streaked with the both of us. I reach between my legs and play with my clit, moaning when I feel how slick it is, how it throbs with sex and adrenaline and endorphins, reacting to the merest touch. When I graze a fingernail against my clit, my hips buck up to meet the Minotaur’s next thrust, ramming his cock into a tightly coiled point deep in me.
The ferocity of my orgasm surprises me. My vision whites out from the sharp heat of a clitoral orgasm that makes my eyes squeeze shut. Then, the low buzz of the vaginal orgasm contracts through me, rich like an alto’s voice, leaving me quaking, my legs trembling as I try to squirm away from the Minotaur’s cock.
He holds me firmly in place. Once my eyes stop rolling back, I hazard a half-lidded, hazy gaze at him.
His fury hasn’t abated. If anything, he seems even more riled up now with brutal heat and lust. He withdraws, leaving me feeling hollow, sore, wrecked.
Even so, I know he’s not done with me. He dips a hand into a chalice, leaving it glistening and slippery. Anointing oil scented with sweet jasmine, though there’s a rancid undertone suggesting that the oil has been in his lair for some time. He hauls me up and flips me so I’m lying on my stomach. He props me up so my hips are high in the air, exposing my cunt to the warm fire and cool cave breeze.
“What are you—” I say, but choke on a low groan as he pries my ass open, his fingers thick and wanting, relentless as he stretches me. Oh, gods. I’ve had anal sex before; it actually feels best to me out of every kind of sex. But I’d only ever done it with my own fingers or a man’s cock. The Minotaur stretches me quickly and ruthlessly, leaving me keening and sobbing at the burn, even as my pussy throbs and continues to drip. He works his fingers in and out of me, leaving me slack and whimpering for the sensation to continue.
I groan as he thrusts his cock into my ass, his huge hands pulling my cheeks apart, exposing every part of me. The thought of all the fury and rage, all the raw emotion in his eyes focused on me makes me skin break out in goosebumps. A low, guttural moan escapes my throat as he presses deep—deeper than he could go in my cunt.
“Gods help me,” I hiss, my jaw going slack and my eyes falling closed as I let myself feel every inch of him. The depth is intense—I whine, sure I’ll be pierced through, but still my body makes space, the maze in me shaping itself around him. I sob into my arms, my body seizing with pleasure, my toes curling as his weight drives him deeper in me, turning me into nothing more than a hole for him. My hands scrabble for a hold as I gasp and keen. My whole body tingles, entered and full. As he thrusts into me, fast and relentless, I let myself go feral, clawing at the obsidian as I growl, flakes of dried blood gathering under my nails. Gods, how I love for him to desecrate me like this, reducing me to orgasm after shuddering orgasm.
The low rumble of an anal climax comes on differently than the others. When it strikes, I’m reduced to a sobbing mess, screaming as ecstasy seizes me.
“Fuck, keep fucking me,” I murmur, delirious with orgasm and still shaking. More breathy words tumble from my lips. “Fuck me like you know I’ve been marked for you.”
I get my wish. His stamina is unreal. He shoves his cock into every part of me, thrusts it as far down my throat as it’ll go, moves from one hole to another, leaving me slack and gaping and covered in his semen, sobbing with how sensitive I am, but unable to stop the next orgasm—unable, and unwilling to. My voice goes hoarse, then leaves me entirely, my cries turned into whistling wheezes. He rams his cock into my cervix again. This time, with my hand on my pelvis, I can practically feel his hardness bulging against me, forcing into my abdomen. Even as that winded sensation of being punched makes me clench down on his dragging cock, he tears climax after climax from me.
My pussy is soft and open, slack and so exquisitely aroused. The next time he withdraws from me, he replaces his cock with his hand, pushing one broad finger into me, then another. Soon, he has three massive fingers in me, stretching me so heavenly as he works in a fourth, as if to explore how pliable I’ll be for him. Gods, it’s so much more intense than his tongue or his cock, filling me divinely. His fists are too large to work past the knuckles into me, but gods does he try, the wall of pressure against my cunt euphoric, dragging a hoarse wail from my lungs as I come, climax building on itself into rapture like a fractal.
My mind goes blank for a solid few moments before I return to my body. The Minotaur withdraws his hand with a plop. It’s slicked with my cunt’s nectar. He grabs my hair with the same hand, smearing my scent into my tresses, laying waste to the forget-me-nots, leaving me disheveled as he throws me back down.
I don’t know how long he ravages me. After a while, I’m nothing more than a limp conduit awash with the buzz of attenuated sensation. I would protest another climax if only I had the energy to. Gods, everything within me is sore and aching, leaking with his cum. I lie there for an eternity just breathing, wondering if the Minotaur has taken mercy on me. When I summon the strength to crack an eye open, I see him standing beside the altar, his eyes dark with a different kind of fury.
It is that fury that makes me fall in love with the Minotaur. It is not a muted anger, nor a tame one. It is the fury of generations at a trauma that can no longer be undone by any one individual. It is the quiet rage of a tempest gathering on the horizon. Solemn, refined, ire bent into a weapon that questions the necessity of sacrifice.
He still doesn’t speak, but I don’t need him to. When he meets my gaze through my delirium, then bends his head ever so slightly to show me the tips of his horns, I understand.
I send a prayer up to the gods and set my heart as much at ease as I can.
He gores me quickly and cleanly. I can’t help but to look down at the horn speared through my navel. The pain hasn’t hit me yet, or perhaps it’s consumed me so thoroughly that I’ve tuned it out to protect myself. So I latch on to the tiny, curious sensations instead. The air, warm against my skin, is cool against my twitching intestines. Something so deep inside me exposed to the kiss of a breeze—I have no idea how to interpret the shock of the sensation but as pleasure.
My village buries people at sea, but that rite doesn’t extend to the chosen. The Minotaur yanks his horn out and begins to pick through my organs.
There won’t be anyone to recover my bones for a sea burial. Even so, as my vision goes dark and the last waves of bliss tug me into the undertow, I imagine falling into an endless sea.