Xenofos — Unducky In Love
????, Sea Season, Season/Fertility Week
Sea Season/Fertility Week/Windsday Eve – pretty late/Time and Notable Context [[[s02:session-38|Session 38]]]
The hour is late. The moon casts down its faint light and the stars compete. Today there is a touch of blue to the light as well, a watery lover for the sky, as the blue moon reaches its height.
The Temple is before Xenofos. Three doors to choose from, and one that Initiates may use. If this is built the same way as others, going left will take him to a place for companionship and food, going right will take him to baths. These doors, with their writhing, contorted bodies, promise bodily ecstasy and a temporary loss of the world’s woes.
Xenofos enters the doors in front of him. None of the three really suit what he has in mind anyway.
Inside, just for a moment, there is silence and emptiness. Then the sound of someone singing echoes to him, and a moment later a tall, elegant duck steps into view. He is almost entirely pale grey, set off with a dark blue cloak. He is not the singer. That is a woman’s voice, further into the Temple. The duck bows his head. “Welcome, friendt.” His accent is very Duck Point.
Xenofos nods to the duck. “Thank you. I have come to pray if that is possible at this hour.”
“At all hourth, the goddeths hearth,” replies the duck. “We have theveral altarth.” He carries himself with surprising dignity as he steps forward just far enough to bow low and indicate the way with a long gesture. It could look ridiculous. On him, it looks like he really cares about Xenofos, right here and right now.
Scribe walks to the indicated direction listening to the echoes, silently repeating the words of praise.
It is a song of welcome and joy, sung by a human. A short ritual hello, done well.
The grey duck walks with him, at an unhurried pace. Behind him the doors open once more, and a different voice behind him says a different greeting, but the duck gives Xenofos all of his attention. “Thith way, if you pleathe, Lord Warrior.” The gesture to the left is slow, gentle, and moves like the waves. Big enough to be seen by the drunk, it is also graceful enough to look good as a momvement of palm and fingers through the air.
“In this house I am not a lord, nor really a warrior, brother.” Xenofos notes as he follows the ducks instructions gesturing with his left hand, bearing marks of the goddess. “Nor initiated to deeper mysteries, so still just a student. My name is Xenofos.”1 again fraternizing with the plebs?
“I am delightedt to have mett you,” the duck replies. “I am Hethanroths, Initiate here.” It is a Lunar style of name.
He raises an eyebrow, but does not comment.
The decoration in these rooms and passages leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination, and then suddenly gives way to soft yellow walls with golden patterns of Fertility and Harmony, in a room with several soft chairs and scattered, flat-topped altar stones that are low enough to pray at for ducks. They must be close to the rear of the building here.
“Any altar ith free to you,” the duck says, with barely a glance to a tray that holds a few coins, near to the door.
Scribe nods to Hethanthros and approaches an altar. He takes off his cloak and folds it neatly on the floor. Sword and its belt are set on it’s side. Xenofos kneels on the cloth raises his hands and claps them together at start of his prayers.
The soft patter of feet fades behind him, as Hethanros goes to care for someone else.
Xenofos recites the formal litany of Uleria’s names and attributes extolling her greatness, her beauty and multitude of virtues. Not all attributes get mentioned before he strays from the formal ceremony and continues with personal prayer.2 failed worship Uleria, but he is not even an initiate
Of course, some might say Uleria does not object.
Mighty Uleria, mightiest of Goddesses, exalted and noble
Hear voice of Xenofos, thankful of your gifts
praised be your generosity, O pearl ornamented one, of hundred veils.
I thank thee, O mighty and merciful one.
I ask your blessing to Mellia and Venlar, let their marriage be happy one
So also for Varanis, let protect her from evil and her love come to good. If marriage is her lot, let it be happy.
Look over the plains for the flowers in there. Look also over Teefeela who walks – or swims – the night.
If you deem it right, let Xenofos sleep under your wings tonight, shielded from nightmares.
There is no quiet in this place. The happy sounds of worship of many kinds float on the air, but never intrude. Songs call, dancing feet pad or patter past, and a couple takes up position on chairs nearby to talk about the future in low voices, and whether one can afford to start a family. All peaceful.
The couple are both ducks, one with showy long plumes, one with bright, brilliant head and shoulder feathers, and a modest but well made dress.
Xenofos lets the rhythm of the temple take his mind wandering, hoping to reach peace. Attempt is made void by visions of Varanis sick and pale in her room.3 Her facial bones are visible, like a skulland worms are just waiting to gnaw at her flesh.((tried to meditate, with augment from harmony. That would be a nope.))
Some time later, around the point that Xenofos is getting restive, Hethanros returns to ask if all is well.
He flinches at the quiet question and gasps for air.
“Back thtraight,” Hethanros says easily. “Air ith a gift that ith thtrong.”
With Xenofos sitting down, they are almost at eye level.
“When it is not a curse, brother Hethanros…” He shakes his head as if to clear it.
“Come partake of a little wadder.” Water. Duck Point accent. “And thomething thimple to eat.”
Xenofos leaves a small offering on the tray and follows the duck.
There is a small but well appointed room with a couple of chattering women and about a dozen chattering ducks, at tables. Hethanros asks Xenofos, “Will you wishsh for a room for the nightd? We have thome available for lay membership.”
“Yes, please. I do wish to be shielded by her wings tonight.” 4 Xenofos fails charm roll
“We do notd tendt to uthe that phrathe here,” Hethanros says gently. “But she will take you to her clutchh.” He fetches water and some plain dark bread with a slightly salted crust, into which familiar Runes have been carved. “Eat what you will, and thit ath long ath you like.”
He nods and accepts the simple fare.
It does taste good, and is not too much for someone who ate at the waterfront, although the juxtaposition of tastes is in itself a matter for philosophers.
Xenofos lets the water swirl in the cup and looks at the vortex.
Too fast to really concentrate on. Then it slows and for a moment hangs there perfectly. Then it dies, but there is still a hint of movement within, beneath the surface.
He sighs, takes a small vial from his writing kit and twirls it in his fingers.
The cup’s glaze is smooth. Ink would not stain it.
Wine might be better suited, but water will do. He takes of the minuscule stopper and lets three small drops fall. Syrupy, clear like tears.
A new twirl of the cup and he gulps it down.
Sleep will come, no doubt, soon.