Prayer. For Drummond it is a chance to commune, without the distraction and chaos of life, with his creator. Through prayer comes truth, he believes. It is through prayer that he is once again in the grace of his master and subject to the cleansing power of faith. He has but to admit his sins and seek absolution through penance. In all of Fenra, only he can truly claim to understand the One God. It was he who first heard his god’s voice through the words of a whore.
The memory brought a rush of emotions, still raw and painful, filled with shame for the unclean acts to which he was driven. Flesh lies. Flesh deceives and flesh provides. That day in the rubbish strewn alley, Drummond laid between the legs a willing woman and labored to ease his body of a primal urge. It was base and crude and he enjoyed himself immensely. The woman’s hard eyes took no pleasure in his efforts and her feigned gasps of excitement sickened him. Still his body begged release and as he filled her with his seed, he felt shame. It took him only moments to make himself proper; he tossed the whore a handful of coin and turned to leave when she grabbed his arm and spun him about like a farmer’s wicker doll.
Her teats glistened with sweat as they lay naked to the night, and her stained dress hung from her bony hips. The hardness in her eyes was gone, replaced by a darkness that glared at him with such malice that he thought himself a dead man. The whore moved towards him; it was jerky and unbalanced much like a child taking its first steps. Her face was contorted in what he could only describe as rage and it was only then that Drummond realized how old and used she truly was. Her hair turned ashen as the flesh and muscle of her limbs shriveled to the bone, leaving only a vague pretense of a woman.
Drummond reached for the knife in his belt and slashed the air between them in warning. “Stay back.” He growled, but the whore ignored his small weapon and grasped him by the front of his tunic and pinned him to the stone wall.
“Taste the pleasures of my flesh, Drummond.” The whore rasped as she writhed against his body and the heat of his loins fled at the sight of her desiccated flesh. She smelled faintly of rose oil and wine, but her breath was noxious as rotting flesh. So frightened was he that he could not scream as she gasped him by the length of his short graying hair and forced his head back painfully. He was helpless as she licked his neck and screamed as her hot tongue seared his flesh. The sickly stench of his scalded skin filled his nostrils and it was with an effort that he did not retch. Her free hand grasped his sex and in a moment of cold realization, he knew he would never know the pleasures of flesh again.
Bleeding and vomiting on the dirty ground, Drummond was helpless as he lay in a pool of his own blood and whimpered like a beaten dog for the loss of his organ. The whore stood over him; a grin split her face, contorting the flesh of her mouth and cheeks into a ghastly visage.
“I have purged you of your filth – unclean and unworthy that you are – your pain is your penance, Drummond of Mineada.” She hissed.
“Who are you?” Drummond shuddered at the sight of her.
“Do you not recognize your god? Or is that you still seek to suckle the teats of this whore?” She teased. Drummond averted his eyes as she pleasured herself in front of him. The pain in his groin was terrible and he shivered as his body grew cold. There was blood everywhere; it filled his vision like a red haze and coated the lichen covered walls of the alley like paint. Drummond’s vision blurred as his head was twisted about to face the whore once more. Her hands grasped his cheeks and he starred into the depths of eyes black as soot – there was chaos there, a dark writhing mass that slumbered in oblivion. It waited and dreamed; it dreamed of Drummond and in its dream, held him fast like an insect had it fingers with which to pinch.
“I offer you a choice Drummond of Mineada: serve me and I will take away your pain and show you the truth of this world; deny me and I shall wreak suffering eternal upon your soul. It is a simple choice – which shall it be?”
Pain wracked his body as if a thousand needles pierced his flesh and rent his mind. The whore’s face softened with pity and he watched in agony as flesh and muscle returned and her shriveled lips became full once more. The years fell away and youth revitalized every facet of her body. Gone was her noxious breath and slack teats; she was full and vibrant and hungry.
“I will serve you.” He gasped as the pain fled his body. He glanced down and saw that the blood was gone and the agony between his legs eased.
“I have given you back your body – but your soul is bound as is your oath.” The whore smiled and caressed his face with a long, slender finger. Drummond shuddered at her touch but more so from the hunger that raged in her eyes. “You will lead my faithful, Drummond. You will take them from the dark places where they hide from lies of the Triumvirate and bring them into the world where we will show them the fallacy of these puppets. You, Drummond, are my servant. I will give you power to bring nations to their knees. You are mine.” She whispered in his ear. Drummond’s face was damp with tears of gratitude and was surprised when she pushed him gently onto his back and straddled his hips.
“I will bear you servants to speed your conquest. You will use them to bring my words to the unbelievers; should I find the people of Fenra lacking, their blood with succor our children. Flesh lies. Flesh deceives, but this night it shall provide.” Drummond had little choice but to watch in horror and wonder as she pleasured them both; in his release the One God allowed Drummond a glimpse of the paradise he would bring to the children of Fenra.
Prayer. Drummond whispered the words with reverence and devotion; it kept the darkness at bay and brought him one step closer to the One God. When he was finished, he rose from the simple straw matt that fronted the altar to his god and stepped out on the balcony overlooking the king’s road.
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