Power and Pleasure Book Cover I breathed in deeply, controlled, disciplined, and held my breath for a count of three. I could feel the power coursing through my body, encasing my nerves and my muscles with a visceral flow of heat and potency. Building and maintaining this energy level requires a great deal of concentration and flexibility, and I have long adopted certain physical and mental disciplines well known to the ancients.

I know that similar practices are undertaken and widely practiced even now - under a variety of names - although I suspect that few realize any of the potential of the exercises they undertake. Oh, certainly, any adept can sense the flows of energy around the body and exercise some control over the conduits used for its direction. But, for most people, the true release of power is somehow not quite possible.

I have no such limitations. I exhaled, paused, inhaled again and opened my third eye, which is not located - as has been so frequently and inaccurately depicted - in the center of my forehead but in a place much lower down my body. It is to be found where it would form a Cyclops face with a single eye, an inverted nose at the navel and lips around another opening in place of a mouth. With an effort of long-practiced will and a further tightening of my muscles, I sent my consciousness spinning out into the world.

As I write this, I am fourteen hundred and thirteen years old, although I certainly don't look more than twenty-five – thirty at the most. I've aged well. I am, I suppose, what people used to call a goddess or a witch, although using such descriptions inevitably leads to a tedious philosophical and theological discussion about good and evil. A great deal of misunderstanding, bullshit and hypocrisy surrounds that knotty subject, although the truth of the matter is that classifications on this topic are heavily influenced by human politics and fears and ambitions, and little or nothing to do with some abstract inherent quality or idealized attributes.

In the modern world, of course, I must move around from time to time to avoid attracting any undue attention - apart from the lustful ones from a great many men and quite a few women - which would present a danger to my lifestyle and indeed to my life itself. At different times, I have lived in almost every part of the globe: in cities, villages and isolated hamlets, in jungles, deserts and farmlands, alone and in company.

For some reason even I have never been able to determine, my body remains toned and tanned and does not seem to age or even change significantly over the years. Yet minor scratches and bruises heal as quickly and completely as anybody could wish. Somebody - an old lover from so long ago I have almost forgotten his name - once compared my form to a classical bronzed statue. Needless to say, I forgave him his outrageous flattery soon enough.

Currently I maintain the appearance of a fit and athletic woman living in a high-ceilinged and sparsely-furnished penthouse flat recently converted from an Industrial Revolution mill. I nod politely to my neighbors in the hallways, jog on an irregular basis - not that I really need to, of course - and otherwise I am left alone to pursue my own interests.

In ages past, I have adopted a wide variety of disguises even through I cannot change my basic body shape or coloring. I am sufficiently tall and muscular that, by modifying my posture and walk, and cutting my hair and exposing my skin to the sun, I can easily pass for a young man, at least when clothed. More than a few people have received a quite a shock when they discovered the truth and, in less permissive times, I have found myself in serious trouble – even danger – with such cross-dressing antics.

Right now, I had different antics in mind. I was in pursuit of a new lover, a man I had been sounding out on one of my irregular visits to an exclusive downtown gym. On first impressions, Lawrence was rich, intelligent and witty, and with a well-maintained body I could really appreciate for my own pleasures. Of course, any man like that was bound to be attached - this would not necessarily present a problem - but, more importantly, first impressions can be so misleading. This was the reason why I had decided to reprise an ancient technique and check him out using an astral projection.

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