31: Toluene's Lunch
The Church of Toluene was the most prominent in Cormanworth. A faith that most people could get behind, not cruel or overbearing.
High Preist Termine had just finished the morning mass and started administering his daily duties, ensuring his priests and followers’ needs were met. His bright red and orange robes accented his tall, wiry body. He stood nearly seven feet high, giving him the advantage of looking down on his followers. He carried a staff with a sun topped yellow crystal. His blonde hair and breaded beard swaggered as he walked the halls of the four square temple. The temple design was based on a need for uniform and order. The largest building was for the sermons and ceremonies. The next smallest was needed for the priests' housing and the priests' needs housed in the complex. The third was used for education and housed a workshop for the construction and maintenance of the temple. The last building, which was used for purification, contained baths and sanctified pools of holy water.
One of his priests, Nathen Arnulds was hurting up to Termine was pleased that he had completed his last quest, hoping that the acolyte had shown the world the power of Toluene.
Nathen rushed, nearly out of breath. He was dressed in his chain armor, which moved slightly slower because of the additional weight. “Father Termine, May Toluene’s light shine on us all.” He lowered his head.
The High Priest released his hand, gesturing Arnalds to raise. “What is it, my son. You seem troubled. What can Toluene’s Light Illuminate today?”
Nathen panted, “Father, we have a problem; the Goddess of the Pit is in Cormanworth.”
Termine raised his brow, “Continue.”
Nathen gasped, “She has been here for months right under our very nose. What’s worse, she had corrupted Charmeine Vestule! Our holy warrior!”
Termine was now confused, “What makes you think this?”
Nathen breathing was now almost normal. “The Hand of the Goddess serves Oliver Martin! She is a succubus! The new guild member, Andrea Wellington A demon goddess! I have seen her power first hand Father, and we may be all in danger. If anything, we should try and save Charmaine from her clutches.”
Termine would have laughed; he had heard the stories of the Goddess of the Pit. These reports all from those followers who had traveled from Floastone. Most were tales of horror that sent chills up your spine. “Well, take me to her.”
Nathen blinked, “What?”
Termine smiled, “Let’s go talk to this goddess. If this is the same woman who has been here for months and not destroyed us, then let’s go ask the Goddess of the Pit what she wants, find out her intentions. If she was here to destroy us or make us bow to her will, I am sure she would have done that already.”
Nathen walked with the High Priest outside the sanctified walls. “Father, are you sure this is wise?” The main temple was located just outside the main market plaza of Cormanworth. "This is a powerful demon goddess."
Termine looked back at him with his own resolve, “Yes, gods are to be respected. I am sure of this, and I will also have to meet this goddess. Remember, we are the eyes and ears of our gods. Our prayers are whispered into their ears. They then decide with their infant wisdom to provide us with guidance.” Both Nathen and Termine felt indeed being blessed with Toluene’s luck. They had potted their holy warrior, a great-grandson of Toluene himself, hand in hand with the silver-haired rams horned girl. He could see them sitting under local tavern, The Rusty Nail's outdoor round wooden tables.
Termine and Nathen walked over to the two, who were eating lunch. He could see Andrea chewing on a bowl full of vegetables and some fruits, mostly grapes, with a mix of other berries. Charmeine had a full helping of meat, a bowl of stew, a loaf of bread, and a mug of the watered-down ale the Rusty Nail served.
Andrea looked up, "Hello Nathen, and you brought a friend? Have a set got a little extra care for some?" She pointed at the food on the table.
Charmeine looked up, bowed his head. "Ka'Azalin, this Father Termine, he's the High Preist of Toluene in the city. Father, are you not doing the afternoon service today?"
Termine smiled and had a seat across from Andrea. "No, not today; I am here to confirm a few things, that is all. There has been a flutter of news and rumor about the GrindHouse Guild's last adventure. Instead of acting on rumor, I always find it much easier to ask."
Termine looked directly at Andrea, "Is it true that you forewent your wedding vows to marry this woman? I was personally asked to watch on you and made sure you stayed pure. Not to say that love does not have its place. Where the heart is strong, vowes will break."
Charmeine looked down, "Yeah, about that. The whole thing was my fault. I tried to kill Ka'Azalin. We made a pact. If I won, I get all of the treasure in the Vault; if I lose, I marry her and provide her with a child."
Andrea grinning, "He lost."
Termine blinked, "A pact?" Termine's eyes stared directly at Andrea. He studied her form, he looked back at the shirtless Charmeine, on his chest next to his heart was the symbol of the Circled Hand, the symbol the Ka'Azalin. His gaze changed back to Andrea.
Andrea returned his gaze; this man had eyes that could penetrate the soul. She swallowed her food she was chewing on with a gulp. "I am the Demon Sorceress Ka'Azalin, and I am the Hand of Katalina, the one you now call the Goddess of the Pit."
Termine was still not convinced. "The goddess all are very dominating with heir presence. Performing miracles and showing their strength."
Andrea smiled back, "Not all of us. I am her Hand; this means that when she wants to use me. She will and has a few times."
Termine trying to assess her, "The Hands are only allowed to use grace by the will of the god. Yet my priests say you can use it freely."
Andrea chuckled, "Yes, you want a miracle, so sort of proof?"
Termine was going to test her; he knew a god's grace when one used it. "Yes."
Andrea thought for a moment, what could she do? She had minimal practice herself summoning up god power. "Oh wait, I think I know. Charmeine, you can help me." she reached over and grabbed his hand. "I will make it rain. Charmeine, you experienced when Toluene made it rain before; think back at how that made you feel. I can duplicate that effect."
Charmeine drank down his piece of meat with a swallow of ale, "Umm, sure." He started thinking back a few years ago when Toluene once made it rain, the feeling, the emotion. The waves of grace-filled the area around him.
Andrea closed her eyes, "This may take a moment." In her mind, she kept thinking about how to make it rain. Boil water, make it heavy enough to fall back? Just create a fountain in the sky. Then she had an idea, and water is constantly in the air; she needs to merge it to make it heavier and fall.
Termine sat staring at her; he had patience. He would give her all the time to prove she is or is not a god.
The ground began to shake and vibrate. The plates and mugs danced around, and a humming sound started, followed by the sound of rumbling of chains above them.
Andrea's eyes opened, leaps of crimson fire flared out. Her chest sigil burned brightly, "Bind each raindrop together. The heavier and heavier they get. Until they fall, I really just trying to see if I could create water, looks like I can't just do that yet." She had tried to imagine just creating water, but nothing happened. Picturing rain falling from the sky, with clouds and such. She thought of binding the individual drops of water together; she imagined tiny chains extending to another droplet of water in the air and pulling them together. Andrea could feel her force of will binding together the water droplets in the air above the city. Quicker and quicker, the process was now a cascading effect; dark clouds began to form above the city.
Termine's eyes widened now; he felt the goddess grace flooding in waves across the courtyard. The sky grew darker as the water formed high above the city.
Andrea looked at the High Preist, "Heavier, link them together, like a chain, until.."
The sudden downpour of water was like a torrent; thunder and lightning pounded the city. The rain was heavy and wild in patches. People went screaming and running suddenly, being drenched in the waves of water falling from the sky. The little cloth covering on the table quickly soaked through.
Then just after a few minutes, the rain stopped. Andrea's eyes had returned to her normal deep blue. "I think I might have overdone it."
Termine's jaw dropped; she was a goddess in her own right. "Forgive me." he squeaked.
Andrea reached over to him and padded his now dripping face, "Nothing to forgive. I will call this the Termine Falls, and you should be happy. You got a storm named after you!" She started giggling at the thought.
Charmeine stood up, now that his table was soaked and his bread soggy. "I think it is time to return home."
Andrea pushed herself up as well, "I think you are right. Good day, Mr. Termine."
Nathen sat down just as drenched as the rest of the people in the plaza. "See, evil goddess. She just flooded the town."
Termine began to ring his robe out, "We have a had a demon goddess here for months, and yet we did not truly know. Why did not the plants die, sour milk be found from milking cows. She is not just a demon, but a goddess, that is why."
Nathen shifted a bit on his seat. "We should talk to the Church of Bhuul about removing this demon from the town."
Termine raised his hand, "She is a dark goddess; that much is true. We will give her a wide berth. I will see if I can have Charmeine brought in, though, to clear his mind. Maybe we can save his soul." He watched the new goddess and her husband walk out of the now slightly flooded plaza.