The Land of Teuhyo
(Inspired by Dungeons and Dragons)
Chapter 7: Disturbing Holy Ground
That night, the group curled up in a side alley and arranged their cloaks into a makeshift bed. Iah curled up in between Nedjem and Bedivere and Aeron took first watch, standing by the edge just out of the light. The town was strangely stale, like the air wouldn’t circulate through it. His knuckles paled as he gripped his warhammer. He couldn’t shake the deep anxiety from the pit of his stomach. Or maybe that was the drugs.
Vulcan stood up and grumbled something about how his back hurt and the stone was too hard, and Aeron looked over to him. “Wanna switch?”
“No.” Even under the bandana, he could see the Axolotl pouting. “Why can’t we go back to the hotel?”
“Prolly not the best idea to sleep in a crime scene.” Aeron said. “We might get questioned and such. And we really can’t afford to go to jail.”
Vulcan sat down cross legged beside Aeron and took out his dagger, flipping it over and over in his hand. Aeron’s eyes began to fall as the lids grew heavy, but he could still feel something wasn’t right.
Aeron looked at the pink teenager.
“Churches have gold and shit right?”
“Um…” Aeron rubbed the back of his neck. “Gold?”
“Like, ornaments and stuff. Crosses, made of gold?” He could see Vulcan smile with his eyes. “Probably worth a lot of money~”
Aeron looked down and sighed. “I don’t think you should be deterrin’ the mission…”
“Relax, they won’t even know I’m there!” Vulcan put one arm in front of his face, dabbing downward with his elbow. “I am the night!”
“Uh huh.” Aeron leaned on his hammer. “A long night, I’ll give you that.”
The church of Adele the Engineer was not what they were expecting. And they hadn’t been expecting much.
It was a wooden building, framed with a stone foundation and carved with Archaic Symbols along the sides. The wood looked new, though, and the stone glistened an almost pearlescent white, indicating a good deal of grace. Even still, there was a sinister air about it. It all seemed so neat and tidy, almost to a fault.
Iah turned to the group. “So…how is Vulcan getting in?”
Vulcan looked around. “Is there a window?”
“We could cause a distraction.” Bedivere suggested. “I could use one of my-”
“Sorry to but in, but I don’t think blowing them up will help Vulcan.” Nedjem crossed his arms.
“Well…uh…one sec.” Iah dropped her pack to the ground and began digging around in it. “I know I packed it…Okay!” From her backpack, she pulled a sparkly pink dress lined with pearls and a skirt that cut off FAR above the knees. “Okay, Vulcan, put this on.”
Iah smiled at him. “You put it on and walk in seeking redemption for your life of sin.”
“But why am I in a dress?!”
“That’s your life of sin~”
The lines on Vulcan’s bandana seemed to form a frowny face. “I…no! Hell no!”
“You’d be able to go in the front…” Iah was beginning to stammer. “It’d be easier…”
“Being lectured by a priest about being a rent boy and probably hit with a holy book is easier somehow?!”
“Iah, I do think he has a point…” Bedivere said. “We really shouldn’t be drawing attention to Vulcan like that.”
Iah looked down at her sparkly dress in her hands, her face falling in shame. “Yeah…I…it was stupid…I’m sorry…”
“Hang on.” Nedjem held out his hand. “Iah, give it to me.”
“What?” The group seemed to collectively echo.
“Give it here. I’ll wear it.” He looked at Vulcan. “I’ll distract the priests and while they deal with me, you can sneak in.”
“Now that’s a plan I like.” Vulcan gave a thumbs up. “One of you let me know when he does the thing.”
“Don’t worry.” Nedjem smiled. “You’ll know.” He turned back to Iah. “May I see that dress?”
She handed it to him, and he slipped into it with, surprisingly, no trouble. Despite the dress appearing to be made for a woman, the width of the shoulders fit Nedjem’s wider frame as though it was made for him.
He gave a twirl, the sparkles on the dress radiating in the morning sun. “How do I look?”
“Um…” Iah’s pale skin was turning pink. All she could do was give him a thumbs up. “Yeah.”
“Do you have any perfume in that bag?”
“What?” Iah said in a daze.
“Oh, yes!” She cried. “I..yes! It’s blueberry lavender…”
“Perfect~” He took it and gave himself a small spritz. “I’ll be back.” He walked up to the door and took a breath, put his hands on it, and shoved it open.
“Arja, antuhsas! Uara sumesja! Arai, hara eh!”
The shout echoed across the empty chapel, bouncing off the ceiling. While the Elvish language may have been unfamiliar to many in this area, Iah managed to catch a few words, and the ones she did made her recoil. She’d never known Nedjem to speak that way.
Nedjem sighed as he noticed the distinct lack of people. Bedivere tapped his shoulder and murmured “Maybe say it again?”
“Once I see a person…” He looked around.
“Knock on the door maybe?” Bedivere pointed to the door. As she did, it slowly creaked open.
Nedjem approached eagerly as the young monk poked his head into the main hall curiously. “Hello?”
“Hello~” Nedjem batted his surprisingly long eyelashes and leaned forward on one of the pews. “Can you…help me?” His voice carried a floaty, ethereal tune as he said those words.
“Help…” The monk looked at him, slightly dazed.
“Do you…enjoy the company of men?” Nedjem asked.
The monk stared blankly at Nedjem.
“Do you like having sex? At all?”
The monk continued to stare, as though he was mulling it over. Slowly, he nodded.
“Of course you do!” Nedjem smiled. “I need help, and in return, why don’t you and I have a nice roll in the hay? It’ll be fun.”
The monk took an exceptionally long time to answer, and for a moment he looked like he was about to say yes, but…
“This…is a holy place. We do not do such things here. Out of respect for Misha.”
“Then we can go outside.” Nedjem winked. “So we won’t be disturbing holy ground~”
“I…cannot do that. In favor of Misha-”
“What if Misha approves?”
As he spoke, Bedivere gestured to Vulcan, who crawled his way in through the front door, ducking behind the pews. For a bright pink lizard with two pointy horns, once he crouched, Bedivere found it incredibly hard to keep him in sight, whether that be his talent as a thief or because she was half distracted by the conversation behind her.
“Abramo has told me I shouldn’t do such things…those thoughts are unholy and-”
Behind him, an older man with a hunched back and greying beard appeared from the shadows. “Eramil? Who is that with you?”
“Oh, if he wants to join, I don’t mind~” Nedjem couldn’t help but giggle like a schoolgirl.
The old man looked past the young monk and straight at Nedjem, pushing past Eramil and standing face to face with the boy in sequence. “Can I help you, my son?”
“Yes, actually. You see…I have…an addiction~” He grasped at the skirt of his dress.
“We treat many ailments here at the temple. What hurts you, my son?”
“Well you see…” Nedjem began to tug on the hem of this dress. “I have this…need~”
“Yes…” Nedjem smiled. “I have a need for a big strong man like you~”
The old man’s eyes narrowed. ‘You’ve coming here to preach your unholy acts like a harlot?! To promote your life of sin?!”
“Yes, Grandpa. I’m so sinful, why don’t you purify me~”
The old man’s eyes grew dark. “You dare mock us in our own home?!” His voice seemed to boom, and Nedjem took a step back.
“Nonono!” Iah ran in front of him. “No! Please! He means no harm!”
“He stands on the ground of our holy patron and spits on all we hold dear!”
“That’s just how he talks!”
“Yeah, I’m brutally honest.” Nedjem smirked. “You’ve never had sex, have you Grandpa?”
Iah buried her face in her hands and the younger monk scurried away. The old man looked like he was ready to set the building on fire.
Bedivere took Nedjem by the arm. “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea…”
“Don’t worry, I got this.” Nedjem winked.
“I’m not sure you do but…” Bedivere heard the door on the right creak closed. “Okay.”
“Besides, it’s just the Grandpa. The other guy left!” He turned back to the fuming old man. “I had hoped that, as a wise man, you would be available to give me the wisdom I require to save myself, and no longer have to…sell my body so senselessly~”
“Do not lie to me.” The old man chuckled, but it was dark and menacing. “You do not wish for change. I could give you my brightest blessing and tomorrow, you’d be right back out on the street. The world I knew is dying because of people like-”
Suddenly, Eramil returned, and trailing behind him was a young woman with pale brown hair in a short bob, partially covered by maroon robes. “Abramo~”
The old man turned to the woman. “Misha, I’m busy right-”
“Eramil told me we have visitors!” She looked past him to the group. “Hello there! Are you here for service?”
Iah smiled brightly. “Um, yeah! Hello! It’s good to meet you!” She curtsied.
The woman, Misha, giggled. “Oh, well!” She mimicked Iah’s curtsy. “It’s a pleasure for me as well.” She looked back to the old man. “Abramo, you aren’t trying to turn these poor younglings away, are you? Are they looking for guidance?”
“Yes!” Iah cried. “Yes! We’re looking for guidance!”
Abramo stared at Misha for a full minute. Then he grunted and disappeared into the hall.
“I think Abramo needs some guidance.” Nedjem chuckled.
“Oh, you know what they say.” Misha smiled. “He’s from…another time. He doesn’t understand the way we are now.”
“If he’d fuck a little maybe he’d lighten up.”
“Child, I don’t think he could if he tried.”
Vulcan gently closed the door behind him, leaving behind that extremely awkward interaction. He’d never been good with people, though he’d never admit it. But this?
Vulcan rubbed his hands together. This was his element.
The little Axolotl blended into the wooden walls, practically melting into the paneling whenever someone passed by. Taking a hard right, he slid inside the first open door he could find, shutting it nearly silently.
The room was dark as night, and he waited a moment, listening for any signs of life. His eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness and the complete lack of recognizable color. He must have been on the floor doing this for a good ten minutes, but at least after that he could see.
It was a tiny room, simple but lined with bookshelves and with a desk in the corner, probably belonging to some stuffy monk. Carelessly, Vulcan tore into the bookshelf and as he did, a thick novel fell into his lap.
The young boy knew enough, even in his youth, to doubt that this was a coincidence. He picked it up slowly and turned to the first page.
Property Of Derek Hussein, it said in the front, along with a note scrawled in the inner binding. Vulcan held the page up to the candlelight:
“If you are reading this, I’m most likely dead, and if you stay in Orlaine, you are next.”