The Old God

Russell Figgins

Gorack knelt at the edge of the clearing. In the shade of the trees he looked out at the temple, a great stone goliath, carved into the high, grey cliff. Raising his finger and thumb to his mouth, Gorack let out a shrill whistle, before standing up, and walking out into the open.

He was tall, with wide shoulders, and a narrow waist. Long brown hair and a thick, bushy beard concealed his face. He wore only a mammoth skin loincloth, and boots. A long spear clutched in his hand.

Behind him came great Aja, a tall and intimidating man of the Desert Kindred. Ebon skinned, bald, and dressed in a vest made from raptor skin, and a simple loincloth, draped around his neck was a necklace of raptor teeth. A great club rested on his shoulder.

"Where are the Mountain Clansmen?" Gorack asked, as the two stopped at the base of the temple steps. Looking behind them the Valley mercenary saw none of the warriors that had traveled with them. "Have they fled?"

"They seem to think this place is evil," Aja said, his deep voice rumbling like a stampede. "But; those savages think everything below their cold, rocky home is evil."

"We have no time to talk of evil. Come, the treasure waits," the two began their ascent to the top. The opening was caved in the shape of a great ape, long fangs of stone hung down was a finely carved face, looking as it would come to life at any and bite down. "Who carved this?"

"Men with greater skill then you or I," Aja replied, as he started inside the temple.

Thick layers of dust clung to the long dead torches, carved pillars, and wall paintings of great battles and rich treasures. Gorack wiped his hand across the wall, revealing a drawing of a bullheaded monster killing men and women.

"By Ren," he whispered, as he wiped away more to reveal an even larger picture. It showed men with spears forcing helpless men and women into a pit with the creature to be butchered. "Aja, look at this."

"What is it?" he asked, as he came over. "Theocalyse, this is a depiction of Theocalyse, the bull god."

"Bull god?" Gorack asked. "I have never heard of this god."

"The Desert Kindred know him well. Once he was a being of prosperity and brought rain. The desert was once a lush and beautiful jungle. The people wanted for naught, everything was given freely to them." Aja said. "But; priests of the darkest order thought that sacrifices to Theocalyse would grant them unimaginable power."

"Did he?"

"No, he grew thirsty for blood," Aja replied. "His wrath destroyed the land, burned the once mighty jungle to the ground, leaving only the barren place you know now. Come, we must not linger here any longer."

They continued on into the temple, passing piles of skeletons in tattered clothing, and gripping dusty weapons. A feint light appeared at the far end of the corridor. The two started towards it with caution. They came out into a circular chamber with torches lit, a great pit was in the center, and a mountain of bones filled it.

"Who is there?" a voice called, startling the two. The voice was deep, and tired. Approaching the edge of the pit Gorack looked down to see a tall figure hidden by shadows and bones. "Who dares disturb my temple? Speak, as I grow impatient."

"I am called Gorack of the Valley Tribe," Gorack called. "With me is Aja of the Desert Kindred. Who are you? Why are you here?"

"Come down to me Valley son, my eyes are not what they once were," the figure replied. Gorack handed his spear to Aja, before hopping down onto the mountain of bones, causing several to snap and crack as he slid down, before Aja tossed his spear down to him. Heavy footfalls signaled the figures approach. The figure stepped into the glow of the torches, and Gorack was taken aback. "Look on the glory that is Theocalyse."

The bull god stood several heads taller than Gorack. Aja, tall as he was, barely came to Theocalyse's chest. The great black head with long, curved horns sat broad shoulders.

"By Ren," Gorack muttered, raising his spear and holding it out.

"Who are you to swear by Ren? My brother does not listen to your pathetic prayers weak one. If you wish to pray, pray to old Siphrion, the Horned God." Theocalyse said. "You have come seeking treasure, yes?"

"We have," Gorack replied. "Where is it?"

"Bring me the priest Denembo, who slumbers in the adjacent room, and I will tell you,"

Gorack climbed effortlessly out of the pit. The two quickly made their way into the next chamber to find it was lavishly decorated with fine rugs, furniture, and paintings. Lying stretched out on the large couch was Denembo. Tall and thin, draped in a silk robe and trousers. The two quickly hauled the slumbering priest up, starling him awake, and proceeded to drag him back towards the pit.

"Let me go! Please I beg of you, don't throw me to that beast!" Denembo cried, struggling in vain against the iron grips of his captors. "I'll give you gold, jewels, anything you wish just please let me go!"

Without a word the two tossed the sobbing priest into the pit. Denembo climbed slowly to his knees, and looked up at the bull god.

"You have angered me Denembo, trapped me in this fetid place with no blood to nourish me," Theocalyse said, reaching out with his mighty hands, and wrapping them around the priest's skinny neck. "Tribute will be paid priest!"

Gorack and Aja could watch no more, they stepped back from the pit as Denembo cried for mercy from the angry god, only to be brutally ripped apart.

"Valley Son! Treasure lies in the room opposite Denembo's chamber," Theocalyse called, the two entered the chamber to find piles of gold and jewels. After stuffing several large sacks full they quickly left the room, to hear the sound of bones crunching between mighty teeth. The two quickly left the temple, and fled that accursed jungle, never to return.