Koruna's kiss

by BRK

 Clem knows his birthmark sets him apart from the rest of the tribe, but it’s not until he starts his 25th year that he finds out why.

Added: Aug 2022 3,196 words 2,039 views 4.8 stars (4 votes) This story was commissioned via Patreon Vignette Party.

Similarly Named Stories: You might be looking for: “Gains4Gays” by King Dave; or “Green legacy” by JayPat.


Clem had always known that Koruna’s Kiss—the small, brown, heart-shaped birthmark low on the left side of his neck—meant he was special. No one else in the tribe had the Kiss. What it truly signified, though, he did not know. The elders would tell him only that it surfaced once in a generation; but no grown-up in all the valley had it, not even the oldest of the old, despite most tribesfolk reaching a hundred years or more before their passing. Still, the tribe and his clan seemed to treat him like any other youth, training him to hunt and skin and tend the lands; their only sign of deference was that when he turned 18 he was given his own small house, the House of the Kiss on the Mountainside edge of the village. This was a most propitious spot, as everyone knew, farthest from the southern horizon and the Black Chasm, beyond which lay the broken lands where scavenger-men still prowled the ancient ruins.

In later years, as he got older, he caught wind of how other young men his age secretly competed for a chance to spend a moon-night or two cuddling with him in the House of the Kiss, and it was on these nights he wondered if the location of the mark—on that one spot where another boy’s mouth and tongue and teeth felt so especially good—might not be a mere happenstance of birth, like his remarkable good looks or his seeming gift of unremitting health. One guest in particular liked to lick that spot, a handsome horse-tender named Ura, but Clem made sure not to be too preferential toward him and befriended all the young men who came to him. He wondered a little that his parents and grandparents weren’t pushing him to find a wife or husband, but he was in no rush. Anyway there was only one moon-night tryst he’d felt that kind of lifelong connection with, a raven-haired smirker from another village with a kind heart and a tireless cock; but he’d only stayed the one time, and Clem had not even learned his name.

In this way things progressed for several happy years, until the night of his twenty-fourth birthfire. After the clan-feast, and the requisite dance-reenactment of all his achievements in the past year (which set everyone laughing as always, even sour old Nyler), he found himself walking back to the House of the Kiss with First Elder Tren beside him. The night-sounds of the countryside blanketed the land under a cozy panoply of stars; Tren was silent, as if letting the crickets and owls have their way with the night, and Clem was content to do likewise.

When they got to his door, Tren asked if he might join him inside. Clem smiled. “You are still quite handsome, First Elder,” he said, “but don’t you think your wife, Elder Ora, might object?”

Tren seemed pleased. “She would understand,” he said, his gray eyes twinkling, “but perhaps it would be safer to speak my words here after all.” Then, while Clem’s cousins partied late by the embers of his birthfire, Tren, in calm, measured tones, revealed the age-old legend that was bound up with him, but which had been withheld from him his whole life: that all who bore the mark of the Kiss must, at the start of their twenty-fifth year, climb the Mountain of Ind, there to dwell with Koruna and share in the protection of the tribes below.

Clem felt his ruddy skin pale at this news. He knew Koruna took care of the tribes, ensuring health and plenty and pleasure, but to join him seemed no different from passing beyond the veil—a transition sometimes referred to among his people as joining Koruna. No wonder there were no elders who possessed the mark, he thought: they were all gone, forever. “I am to die then?” he asked meekly.

Tren shook his head and rested a paternal hand on Clem’s shoulder. “You are to live, more than any. You are to grow and become more. Most of all you are to do what you have always done: help ensure the strength and happiness of all you love and cherish.” He added playfully, “And of Nyler, too, if you wish.”

Clem laughed. Tren’s words rang true to him, and duty to the tribe was something he understood without question. Despite the butterflies in his belly he nodded. “So shall it be. I will set out at dawn.”

Tren smiled and spoke no further words. Instead he placed a brief kiss on Clem’s mark and departed, leaving Clem to contemplate his new and unexpected future.

True to his word, the next morning at first light Clem said goodbye to his family and set out on his journey. The first stage was uneventful as he wound up the ridges and foothills around the woody Mountain of Ind, giving him plenty of time to fret about what might lay ahead; so it was almost a relief when he got to the gentle slopes of the mountain itself and strange things started to happen.

The first check came when the path led him to the shores of a wide river—a river that he knew should not have been there, and yet there it was, its crystal-blue waters glittering gaily under the noontime sun. The banks to either side of the path were completely impassable, which meant that his only choices were to swim, or go back. Knowing his duty, and determined to do right by the village and all the tribes of the wide valley that already sprawled well below the altitude he had gained, Clem lashed his gear and supplies firmly to his back and dove into the mighty river.

At first he feared he would tire too soon, before he’d reached the far shore, and would be swept away downstream to wherever this mythical river went; but he did not falter, and was surprised to find his strength and endurance only seemed to build and magnify as he swam. When he climbed out he felt energized and powerful, and looking down he saw with surprise that he was swollen all over with hard, beautiful muscle.

He knew it to be a gift of Koruna, and the awe of it stirred his heart, but his hoots and crows of celebration still echoed through the woodlands. He could wrestle his cousin Moga now and win for sure—and Moga had the size and strength of a bear! Of course, he would likely never see Moga again, which gave his joy an iron edge. But then, all the joys of life had an iron edge, or so his mother had always taught him, and as a tribesman of the valley he knew it to be true. Smiling grimly, he squared his broadened shoulders and marched on.

On the following day Clem’s rising path led him into a dense fir forest, its piny redolence clean and sharp and oddly reassuring. As he climbed through the silence he thought he heard a keening sound from somewhere around him. Searching for what made it, his large axe in his hand, he soon discovered an injured wolfling hiding under a downed tree. It was maybe a year in age, and its foreleg seemed twisted or broken. Knowing these lands were stalked by powerful and implacable predators, Clem could not resist the urge to protect the vulnerable beast. Setting down the axe he carefully took it up into his arms, intending to carry it high enough up the mountain that it would be safe; his amplified strength meant that even a near-adult wolf was no more burden in his arms than a human baby would have been. No sooner had he got the wolfling cradled and safe, however, than he heard an ominous rustling. Straightening, he turned and saw a massive mountain lion stalking toward them, preparing to take on man and wolf alike.

Clem’s heart fell. His only chance was the axe—but he could not grab the axe and hold the wolf, and if he set down the wolf he knew the lion was clever enough to snatch it away at exactly the right moment, while Clem was busy defending himself. He must keep the wolf safe. Straightening to his largest silhouette he bared his teeth and faced down the lion, bracing himself for its pounce.

Then, as the lion stared at him, calculating its best move, Clem realized his hands were free after all, brushing against his thighs. He looked down sharply—but no, he still held the wolfling tightly against his heavy pecs with both arms to safeguard it from attack. But he also had his hands at his sides, ready to engage.

Clem didn’t question it. In a lightning move he reached down and snatched up the axe at the very second the lion sprang. Holding the wolf hard to his chest with both arms, he cut the axe in a vicious arc directly into the lion’s path, the strength of his blow nearly severing the predator’s head. He leapt aside as the massive lion crashed into the ground, seeming to make the earth shake, but gouts of its hot blood still gushed all over him and the wolf. He stepped back, staring in wonder first at the downed lion, then at the wolf safe in his arms, then at the gory axe gripped tightly in his third hand, the fourth flexing in sympathy on the other side.

He decided he would marvel at his new body-gift later. Instead he bent over his lupine charge. “You’re safe now,” he told it. The wolfling stared up at him, bold and unafraid, and Clem was touched by its trust and strength. “What shall I call you?” he mused. “You were whining when I first heard you,” he added teasingly. “Are you a ‘Nyler’?”

As he bent close, the wolfling leaned up and let out its long tongue to lick the side of Clem’s chin. “That settles it,” he said laughing. “You’re definitely an ‘Ura’!” True to his new name the wolf kept trying to lick his face and neck, and Clem was still laughing as he headed off to find a stream to bathe them in.

The next day Clem was still carrying Ura in his powerful arms as he continued on climbing up the mountain, keeping his axe ready in his third hand while using the fourth to push aside low-hanging branches. He was concerned about Ura’s leg—he knew a little healing lore, but not enough to be sure whether Ura’s foreleg would heal by itself, or if the wolf was at risk of being permanently maimed. As these thoughts turned in his head, he looked up the bole of the towering healer’s Spruce he was passing around and noticed its distinctive red-edged cones. Yes! he thought. If there was anything out here that could help Ura, it was a healer’s cone.

Reaching up with his free hand, he found that all of the cones were out of reach. He strained harder, even tried jumping up, but he couldn’t get his fingers onto any of the cones.

Gritting his teeth as he stretched his arm as far as it would go, he was considering what would have been a very prickly and uncomfortable climb when suddenly the spruce tree itself seemed to plunge downward into the earth, all at once bringing the needed cones directly in his reach—right in front of his face, in fact. Clem gasped. “Did you see that, Ura?” he said, looking down at his wolf friend in his arms, but as he did so he realized that the tree hadn’t sunk into the earth—rather, his head was now further away from the needle-covered ground. He now stood the height of a sapling, and twice the size of the Clem he’d been mere moments before!

He grinned. Moga wouldn’t even try his luck with him now! he thought. He collected several of the cones and then started a fire to brew the medicine that came from the healer’s cones. It did not take long, and soon he had a rag soaked in the reparative potion, which he wrapped gently around Ura’s injured leg. The wolfling whimpered at first, but Clem smiled at him, pouring his goodwill through the hand he had wrapped around the medicinal cloth. He thought he might be shifting real energy into Ura, not just good thoughts, though as with the swim across the river he only felt renewed, not drained. Then it was over. They rested and ate, and Clem’s latest gift was confirmed when Ura stood up after the meal and calmly trotted around the fire to curl up next to him, ready to sleep off his ordeals. Clem scratched his head and smiled. “We’ll meet Koruna tomorrow,” he said. “And then we can both thank him together.”

Clem gazed up at the sky as the stars emerged one by one, feeling an excited anticipation for the morrow. Given that most of his gifts involved enhancing his body, though with other benefits to the changes beside the physical, he couldn’t help wondering if Koruna appreciated the male form just as much as Clem did.

The morning of the last day dawned cool, bright and clear, the sky soon becoming a vivid cloudless azure as Clem mounted the last rise and beheld the broad, flat summit of the little mountain, Ura loping happily at his side. There was a comfy-looking square house set amidst a stand of trees not far from the center, large but simple and surrounded by bounteous gardens, with a strand of smoke rising from the chimney promising hot tea and a traveler’s welcome. Clem halted and drew in a breath. This was the moment he had journeyed here for. Feeling poised on the edge of a new life, he paused and turned to have one last look down from this place at what he had left behind. Gazing at the valley below as the cool mountain wind whipped appreciatively around him he gasped, amazed by what he saw.

The vista before him was stunning. From here he could see not only his own village but all the villages of the broad valley—the whole of the people. More than that, through some trick of perspective he could perceive everything in as much detail as he wished. Looking over his village he found his own house, closest to the mountain, and as he focused every aspect was visible to him, minute but perfect even at this great distance. The sun glinting on glass, the red door, the broken edge of the porch-stone—everything was laid bare to him. He saw his cousins at work in the fields or tending the horses and sheep in the paddocks. The blacksmith and his burly apprentice, Moga, were hard at work in the smithy a little away from the market space. He saw his parents at the home of the First Elders, Tren and Ora, and—was his mother waving up to him, a final goodbye to the son whose fate had taken him far from home? She blew him a fond kiss, a tiny figure he could see clear as day, and Clem felt a knot in his throat.

“It is bittersweet, this life,” said a friendly voice next to him. “But it has its rewards.”

Clem turned in surprise to find a man crouching next to him at the cliff’s edge, ruffling Ura’s fur. The man smiled up at him and made to straighten. Knowing how much he had grown Clem expected to find himself towering over the man, but as he stood the dark-haired man kept rising and rising until he was looking Clem straight in the eye, his strong, augmented form much like Clem’s in seemingly every respect.

Suddenly Clem recognized him. “I know you,” he said to the raven-haired man, a smile breaking over his face.

“And I know you,” Koruna said, offering him a crooked smirk. He took Clem’s hand, his touch warm and strong, and Clem felt an interested stirring in his loins. “Come,” Koruna said, pulling him toward the cozy house, his bright eyes twinkling mischievously. “There is one final challenge.”

Clem grinned, and, pausing only to tell Ura sternly to enjoy the view for a while, he went with Koruna, already feeling the beginnings of his final gift and knowing just how he planned to share it with the sexy guardian of the valley.

Clem woke contented. From the rug by the fireside he heard Ura gnawing happily at bones. Birds twittered in the knot of trees by the house, and a ray of morning sun gleamed from between the gauzy curtains.

He did not look around for Koruna. The raven-haired man had shared himself with Clem, and now he was a part of him. Clem—Koruna, he told himself—was alone, and yet so not alone. He felt within him the love and strength and playful delectation of all the Korunas before him, and of all the people of the valley, too. He was them—their protector, their brother, their lover. His was to ensure the safety, the comfort, and the pleasure of all his people. What better life could there be?

He got up and strode out of his cabin, Ura leaping up to trot beside him, and then he was in the eastern village, walking the ferry-road behind a grinding ox-cart with a passel of laughing young men in it. A few noticed him, seeing only a handsome stranger with his trusty sheepdog and not their true forms. They gave him appreciative looks and even a catcall or two. Koruna laughed and waved to them, and then he was in the highland hamlet, then the rivertown, and then his own village, drinking in the sights he knew so well. The settlement was happy and thriving, like the others, and Koruna felt a deep gratitude to all his predecessors for protecting and cherishing this place.

He passed a home just as the sudden wail of a newborn child broke out. Coming to the door, Koruna saw the midwife holding up the newly bathed child for its kin to see. On the infant’s neck he spotted a tiny brown mark in the shape of a heart, and he smiled. Old Nyler was there, a happy grandfather at last, and he beamed when the swaddled child was placed in his arms.

“You’re in for an interesting life,” he told the child from the doorway, speaking softly for his ears alone. Then he walked away with his wolfling, filled with plans and ideas for his beloved people, with plenty of room for his own rewards along the way.

Similarly Named Stories: You might be looking for: “Gains4Gays” by King Dave; or “Green legacy” by JayPat.

More Like This

 Looking for stories 

Got one you want to share? Send it in.

 Commissions are open 

Want a BRK story? Find out more.