Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
Marrying the Goddess - A Tale from Grandpa
[The Setting: somewhere in Prax in a Alticamelus rider compound.
--Hey you kids, whatcha you doin'?--
"This story took place back when we wuz in a place called Balazar. It's a fur piece from here but our riders have raided it in the past. Not that it ever was worth raiding the folks there being dirt poor and all, but they make decent enough slaves I guess. Anyhoo my buddies and me wuz stuck there due to the fact that we needed to get these Torches of Everburnin' we'd had back from one of the local kings who had snatched 'em. I told you about them torches did'n I? They wuz supposed to be the blood of Yemalio hisself that he'd shed at some place called the Hill of Coal?, no Gold. Anyhoo the dark war god of the trolls had taken these drops of blood and stuck 'em somehow on the end of some lead clubs and made torches out of 'em. We'd gotten ahold of three of 'em through this mission we'd accepted and although we lost one of 'em we still had the other two and their lead carrying case (bloody heavy that thing was!) My Yemalio buddy made the mistake of showin' 'em to some locals and they wouldn't give 'em back. Anyhoo, we'd lost 'em and in the course of gettin' 'em back we got mixed up in this Lunar scheme to introduce agriculture to Balazar by marryin' one of their goddesses to the god the place was named after, Balazar.
Of course once we heard about this scheme we had to wreck it somehow. (Though come to think of it some of us were keener on the idea than others. Me and my Bison pal were agin the whole stinkin' Lunar business as was this Pentan I knew back then (yeah, I know the only good Pentan is a dead one but when you live the adventurer's life you make strange friends and stranger enemies). Raping the earth? [hawks and spits] Most of the rest of us were just agin' it because the Lunars were doin' it and this soulless sorceror we hung around with weren't agin it at all. Claimed it would be good for the "benighted locals"). My bud Lou, the Babeester Gor weren't agin it in principle but she wuz prepared to oppose it if the majority of us wuz. Kind of ironic considering the role she wuz to play in the whole business.
The idea wuz that by marryin' a grain goddess into the family the Balazarings would git access to the know-how and spells ya needs to plant crops successfully. This would make it cheaper for the Lunars to keep troops in Balazar since they wouldn't have to bring so much food in while at the same time wreckin' the local culture and makin' it easier for the Lunars to introdooce their own evil lifestyle. The bastards. They'd collected an entire weddin' party to get this marriage done right. They had a priestess of some grain goddess to play the part of the goddess (and wuz she a looker!) and some turncoat Yemalio bastard to pretend to be Balazar. There was some old biddy Lunar priestess arrangin' the whole thing and the local high priest of Yemalio (who was an unwillin' party) to marry 'em. Our first thoughts on how to go about wreckin' the whole business wuz to kill someone vital like the priestess or the turncoat but the important people wuz always guarded by a bunch of Lunar soldiers and a scary Lunar rune lord who had five special flunkeys with 'im. So we reluctantly abandoned that idea and decided to rouse the locals instead. That accomplished bupkus cause the locals were too downtrodden to help.
Then Lou contacted this bugger called Blueface we'd met, a mighty powerful shaman who lives in Balazar, to ask his advice. He tells her he's on his way and that he'll be here in a coupla days. (He was concerned about the baby Lou was carryin', the so-called Dog Boy, the Balazaring's messiah so he'd given her this stick that allowed her to talk to him in his head somehow). We waited around for him and when he showed up he suggested we could wreck the ceremony by attracting the attention of the Wild Mother, the earth goddess of Balazar. She'd be sure to wreck the weddin' cause she hates agriculture. (She's a mite like Eritha 'cept she don't even like tamed animals. Her concern is wild critters and plants). We asked how we wuz to git her attention and Blueface sed we'd have to have a volunteer to embody the goddess. He figgured that Lou bein' an earthie was the best candidate. Lou wuz worried about the baby and Blueface couldn't reassure her as he'd never done nuttin' quite like this before but she said she'd do it anyway. He told us Lou would have to fast and we'd need a blood sacrifice to attract the goddess' attention. Somethin' big though, not no little critter, not even a bunch of little critters. Hooman, the Pentan, Svart the Humakti and myself were all keen on nabbin' a Lunar as our sacrifice but the rest were a li'l squeamish about that so we went huntin' instead. Three whole days we hunted and diddlysquat wuz all we found.
So we headed back to the Lunar occupied citadel of Elkoi near where the weddin' was gonna happin (and where we'd left Lou and Blueface) and got back the night before the invokin' wuz to happen. Svart, Hooman, Durnfal, (the Yemalio who'd lost them torches) and myself went to get ourselves a Lunar. Greystone, that wussy Bison, Gerhardt the Orlanthi and Burnin' Willow, the Votanki refused to help and went off lookin' to rustle up some pigs. We approached the Pig's Gate where they always had one Lunar on guard duty and I wuz supposed to confuse him with a spell so we could nab 'im. Damn spell didn't work so Svart hauls off and hits him with his sword which knocks 'em down. Then we tied him up and healed 'im up. Svart cut 'im and told 'im he'd finish his death rune later. This scared the poor bastard piss-less. The bastards then got me to schlep the bugger back to our hideout by myself while they snuck into the citadel for some damn reason. I think they wuz lookin' for an extra Lunar in case one wasn't enough. There they go, bold as brass saunterin' up and down the narrow pigshit strewn streets on Elkoi lookin' for a lone Lunar. The gits wandered over to the main gate and started openin' it so that they could leave. The two gate guards who were safe up on top of the wall asked 'em what the hell they wuz doin' and Svart actin' like he wuz pissed tried to tell 'em he wuz goin' outside to take a wiz. Them guards may have been Chaos lovin' Lunars but they wasn't that stupid. Why go outside when there wuz plenty of walls all around ya? One of 'em started blowin' a horn and those three morons managed to get the gate open and start runnin' for it. Lucky for 'em neither of the guards had a light spell or they'd have been in deep sheet. As it wuz Hooman took a lucky shot through the thigh with a javelin and the other two had to go back and grab 'im and drag 'im away from the gate.
Meanwhile Gerhardt and Greystone wuz tryin' to beg, borrow or steal some pigs. Unfortunately all the dogs them Balazarings keep made this kinda hard. Gerhardt snuck around but Greystone made enough noise to wake the dead and some irate pigtender told him to bugger off before he set his doigs on 'im. They tried to find some food to steal so they could lure some pigs away but they couldn't find inny. They thought about bashin' a hole in on of the pens or startin' a fire but they weren't nuttin' to burn so they changed their minds. So they just returned to the clearing we wuz usin' as a hideout and where we'd left Lou and Blueface.
When I got back to the clearing prodding that damn Lunar wit my sword I saw Lou sittin' before a fire chantin' somethin'. She looked spaced out and was buck nekked. Her face wuz covered with soot and ashes and her belly wuz stickin' out a bit seeing as she wuz a fur bit gone in her pregnancy.. Blueface looked just as creepy and he wuz jumpin' around and chantin' something evil soundin' also buck nekked. When the idiots three got back to the hideout Peracles the sorceror cast some evil, soul-suckin' spell that started healin' up Hooman's leg. Finally the pig pirate wannabes returned empty handed. Once everyone had gathered Blueface dug this long trench in the ground and just before dawn he got Svart and me to hold the Lunar up. (Gerhardt had gone to watch the Lunars as he didn't want no part in no human sacrifice). Svart held 'im by the shoulders and I held his feet. We held 'im over the trench and once the first light of dawn showed Blueface slit his throat while chantin' something powerful. The Lunar kicked and squirmed while his blood spurted. I held his legs up high so all the blood would come out and once it wuz finished drippin' out we dropped 'im and Blueface cut his heart out and threw the still beatin' organ into the fire. The fire kicked up somethin' fierce and all of a sudden like it got real quite and then this little wind picks up startin' to kick li'l leaves around in a swirlin' pattern like a whirlvish but not so rough. Some of the leaves settled on top of the blood and this giant bird that looked somethin' like a swan and somethin' like an eagle dependin' on when you wuz lookin' at it landed. As soon as it landed it looked mostly like a beyootiful woman. Burnin' Willow told us this wuz a vily, a nature spirit that some people called huntin' nymphs. She wuz buck naked cept for a quiver of javelins she wuz carryin' on her back. Soon another vily settled and then all of a sudden Lou opens her mouth and with this awesome voice asks, "Why have you summoned me?" Blueface tells her what's goin' on and she grabs him and pulls him closer. She says, "I know you and you are not unworthy." Then she walks over to the trench, throws herself flat on her face and drinks it dry. With the blood all down her face and front and flanked by the vily she starts walkin' towards the new Earth temple the Lunars had built at this farmin' village called Lesser Bykotus.
The rest of us followed with our weapons out and our spells readied. As we reached the clearing's edge Gerhardt joined us. As soon as Lou and the vily stepped out from the clearing they wuz spotted. (I'd sure like to know what the Lunars thought about three buck nekked wimmen steppin' out from the woods, one with her face covered with ashes and blood all down her front.) Anyhoo, we could see the village with the temple in the middle. There wuz some sort of canopy stickin' out from the front under which the weddin' party members wuz gathered and off to one side wuz the royal family from Elkoi. All the villagers were standin' in a big group off to one side and there were about twenty peltasts standing guard around the perimeter of the village. There wuz also a dozen citadel guards as well, Yemalio spearmen mounted on horseback. When all this lot spotted the three nekked wimmen they all reacted differently, the farmers screamed and buggered off in the opposite direction as fast as they could go. The peltasts went into formation, the weddin' party kept on doin' their bizness and the horsemen charged us. The scary Lunar rune lord, Marduk the Scarlet and his five initiates sort of formed up between us and the weddin' party right in front of the peltasts. The horsemen barrelled up as fast as they could go but before they could even get in javelin range the vily started huckin' javelins at their horses. Whenever one of those javelin's hit a horse that horse balked and wouldn't come any closer. Then they started chuckin' 'em at the horsemen and one of 'em dropped dead outright and the rest peeled off. This accounted for half of the horsemen by the time the javelins finished flying and the other half charged us instead.
Lou and the vily ignored the horsemen, just kept on marchin' up and we got to fight 'em. Our javelin and bow fire wuz pretty useless and they started whaling on us. We hadn't planned our assault very good so we had all our best fighters on the same flank with the lighter armed and armoured ones on the other flank. Durnfal and Svart took care of their three pretty quick with two gettin' killed and one yieldin' once he saw which way the fight wuz goin'. At the other end of the fight it wuz a different story. Burnin' Willow managed to keep herself alive with her dodgin' and her javelin but that poor Orlanthi bugger Gerhardt got hisself speared right through the chest. Poor bastard was killed outright. (I can just imagine what he would have said if he'd had the chance for some last words, "Ha, ha Tamerlan, I finally beat you in the dead boys club!") Greystone tried to call on Waha for aid but I guess he was busy elsewhere. Hooman was havin' trouble keepin' himself alive as well until I got around behind the horsemen and started choppin' at them damn horses. This caused the horses to shy and Greystone and me killed one of 'em and took the other two prisoner.
Meanwhile Lou and the vily just kept marcin' forward. Marduk called on 'em to halt and when they did'n he left 'em to the peltasts. His men moved aside and the peltasts let 'em have it. The vily screeched and jumped up into the air while Lou just dodged out of the way of most of the javelins chucked at her. One hit her in the leg but she just ignored it. The vily swooped down hurling javelins at the peltasts and those brave buggers just kept standin' there huckin' javelins back at 'em. When Marduk and his boys realized Lou wuzn't gonna stop they charged her and got ready to chop her. (By this point half of our fight wuz over and Durnfal grabbed a horse and charged in to help Lou. Svart ran up on foot and as soon as the rest of us were done we joined in leaving Peracles to guard the prisoners. Blueface was holdin' back doin' some more chantin' that seemed important so we did'n wanna bug 'im).
Lou laughed at Marduk and his boys and lifted her head back and howled. Sent a cold chill down our spines and the weddin' party and the royal party realized the fun wuz over so they took off. The Yemalio horsemen who had been hit by the vily's javelins took off with 'em (to guard 'em no doubt). Lou started changin' growin' fur and fangs. A couple of the initiates hit her but their scimitars just bounced off her. Marduk's blows she dodged. When the initiates realized they couldn't hurt Lou they switched to Durnfal and Svart. Durnfal held his off but Svart wuz double teamed and the one he wuzn't parryin' almost took his arm off with his scimitar. Since he'd been hurt before he went down like a ton of bricks. (Of course he'd taken care of the other one first). Hooman wuz tryin' to help by firin' his bow into combat but it wuzn't helpin' much what with us havin' to dodge his shots too. Greystone and I ran up too and all I managed to do was to get myself knocked out. The peltasts and the vily wuz exchangin' fire but then one of the vily got herself shot down. The remainin' vily came in for one more attack but got herself shot down too. By this point the peltasts were out of javelins and most of 'em had loss their will to fight. They decided to retire in good order (mighty smart of 'em!) and took off after the royal party and the weddin' attendees.
Durnfal took care of another of Marduk's initiates. He killed the bugger but the bugger called on his god and wuz healed up! (Guess he figgured it was his lucky day). Right then Lou ripped Marduk's throat out with her teeth. She turned to an initiate next and ripped his throat out too! This was enough for the rest of the initiates, including the guy who'd just come back from the other side and they all tried to run. Unfortunately Lou was faster than 'em and she ran 'em down ripping 'em to shreds with her claws one at a time. (Guess it wuzn't that guys lucky day after all). Then all these wild critters started comin' out of the woods and wreckin' the crops and the huts. Lou took a big leap onto one of the huts crushin' it into the ground and then marches into the temple. She does somethin' inside and the whole place collapses to the ground. Then she starts comin' back our way and we all get this oh oh feelin' like we wuz in big trouble. Fortunately Blueface comes outta the woods chantin' and tells her to begone. Nuthin'. She gets closer and he tells her begone agin. This time she shudders and collapses. Durnfal says, "We better get the hell outta here but first, in the time honoured tradition, loot the bodies!" So we quickly strips all the Lunar dead and getting the captives to carry all the loot and haulin' Lou and Gerhardt's body we got the hell outta there.
We decided to head back to Dykene so we could get them damn torches back. Svart had taken Marduk's head along but he'd tossed it in the bushes a coupla miles away from the scene of the fight. There wuzn't anything we could do for poor Gerhardt so we burned 'im a coupla days later on a nice high spot with a nice smoky fire. It wuz the least we could do. It took Lou almost three whole days to wake up and when she did she said she had one almighty foul taste in her mouth. She also woke up with slit eyes like a cat and when we told her this she joked that this "would make it even harder to get a boyfriend". (What a woman!) We let the three Yemalios go back with a promise to bring their ransoms to Highbridge (without the Lunars followin' 'em preferably!).
And so died a good man. Gerhardt Frei, an Orlanthi, but a good man anyway.
--Uh, Grandpa? Does that story have a point?--
Last updated October 07, 2016
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