Theo tugged at his crotch through his trousers as he stomped with unbridled purpose through the dark forest. Barely a fortnight had passed since the last time he set out on this same journey, and the itch was already almost unbearable.
From her lofty perch on one of the highest branches of her favourite tree, Ivy heard him the imp before she saw him. She rolled over onto her stomach, lying flush with the tree’s gnarliest branch, and peered through their leaves. Ivy winced and held her breath in anticipation, only releasing her exhale when the imp crossed the threshold without trampling any of her fungi friends on the ground level.
The moment Theo stepped over that invisible line into Gort’s Glade, he felt it. The now-familiar tingle that promised a very special relief. He breathed in deep, planted his knobbly walking stick in the ground, and let our a preemptive sigh of satisfaction.
The first time, he came here by accident. The second time, he came with intent. This third time, he was going to come because he felt he had no choice.
“But you always have a choice, my dear Theolof,” Ivy said. She let her dangling leg swing in slow, lazy circles while her gaze followed the imp making his way over the soft grass into the moonlit centre of her sacred ring.
“We knew he was never going to heed the warnings nor resist the urges,” the tree whispered. “He is an imp, after all.”
Ivy blew air through her lips. The tree was never wrong, but it didn’t change how much it annoyed her when they were quite right. “He isn’t going to make a very attractive mushroom,” she moaned back at them.
“We can always feed him to that particularly cantankerous badger who lives in nearby, at Muin’s Moor.” When the tree’s little giggle drifted past Ivy on the nighttime breeze, she couldn’t help laugh with them.
In the middle of the glade was a long-forgotten altar borne of stone and earth. Well, that’s what the old town mothers called it. They also told stories of the fairy people who once thrived in these lands, some of whom were said to still lurk about, guarding what little remained of their ancestral homes. But Theo didn’t believe in such nonsense. Besides, even if fairies were real, they’d have no business telling a strong, proud imp Theo how to live his life on his own land.
Theo pulled the drawstring on his burlap trousers and let them fall in a bunch around his ankle, bearing the dark flesh on his lower half to the spectre-white moonlight. His erection, blood-heavy and aching, sprung forth without ceremony. He clasped the girth in his hand. The weight of it was comforting.
He wasn’t sure why this spot brought him such significant and immediate arousal, but he never even considered questioning it.
Holding himself steady with his other hand leaned to the moss-covered rocky protrusion, he began to stroke the need from his swollen cock. Gradually at first, with occasional hurried bursts of tugging only to return to the slow drag of his palm down the length of his shaft until he met the thatch of hair that framed him.
“We could try to stop him,” the tree said, already knowing what Ivy would do with such such suggestion.
Ivy supposed they were right. She could say something: make herself known to the imp, warn him of the consequences of spilling his offering on the altar for a third and final time.
But she also knew the impish wroth that had all but destroyed her sisterhood. There was a mix of disdain and fear, and a hint of fanciful vengeance. But ultimately, it was her indecision that made the choice. Despite the centuries of neglect, the ring’s magic was still far stronger than the imp, and he was already nearing his end.
Ivy’s lip curled as she watched the grotesque creature’s hand blurred over the stump clenched in his palm. He disgusted her, yet somehow she couldn’t look away as he heralded his own undoing.
“Your mouth will stay that way if you’re not careful,” the tree chided.
Ivy sucked her teeth at them. “Hush, or I’ll feed you to the cantankerous badger.”
This time, their laugh came up all the way from the base of their trunk. The bellowing sound was enough to distract Theo momentarily — his scrunched up eyes bulged open and he looked about the glade. When he was satisfied that he was still alone, he set back to finish the job he’d set out for that night.
Ivy could see the strain in the imp’s forearm matching the tension in his face. His breathing was coming in faster and harder grunt through his nose.
Theo doubled over on himself, rutting into the tunnel of his closed fist. The build-up was powerful, quite possibly the most overwhelming he’d ever known, until purple-green light burst behind his closed eyelids as moon-white pearls burst from his cock and landed on the earth at his feet.
“At last,” Ivy said with a smug smirk, rapping the tree’s trunk twice with her knuckle, then climbing expertly down to land at their base.
Ivy’s footsteps were so soft that even if Theo hadn’t been groaning in the aftermath of ecstasy, he wouldn’t have heard her. She was mere feet from him when he finally looked up and saw her standing there.
Theo’s stomach dropped and his complexion blanched impossibly pale for an imp when he locked on the black-eyed gaze of the ghostly creature before him. Her long, silver-pink hair billowed around her like a floating crown of liquid cotton; her simple gown draped down her slight form like a sheet of pure goat’s milk. She was stunning and terrifying all at once.
It took Theo a lot longer than it should have to realize his cock, now limp and receding, was still in his palm, his trousers still in a bunch at his feet. When he finally did, he hurried to pull up the burlap and tie it all back into place.
“You shouldn’t have come.” The pallid beauty’s voice seemed soft a melodious, yet somehow thundered ominously from within Theo’s ribcage.
Shaken by the reverberations inside him, he tried to take a step back. But he found that it was impossible. His feet were stuck, literally planted in the earth. A wicked smiled played on the creature’s pink lips as she floated in toward him, so close, until her nose nearly grazed his. He drowned in the twin black pools of her gaze as she grew, and grew, and grew until she towered over him.
“However wrongfully, you have completed the rite, Theolof,” she said, plucking him up off the ground and carrying him to the shadowy edge of the glade, where she dug a small hole in which she buried him up to his ankles. “Now this is where you will stay.”
Then, Ivy drifted back up to her perch. From her seat, she cast her gaze around the blissfully quiet glade, counting the mushroom caps around the ring until she fell fast asleep, held safe in the tree’s embrace.
Meanwhile, the last thing Theo would ever know was the overwhelming sound of hasty, grunting sniffles and a damp, velvety compress on the back of his neck.