Some of you have read the first chapter at www.cityofthegods.com so here then is an excerpt from another chapter for your perusal... Let us know what you think Scott & Wynn
IN THE TEMPLE OF GLAUCUS
D’Molay had seen many Greek and Roman buildings in his travels, but there was something different about this one besides its state of disrepair. It was more primitive, as if it had been erected with little thought to its design. The columns were less intricately carved and the marble had been laid almost haphazardly. Turtles inched and crabs scampered along its steps. D’Molay made sure not to step on any as he caught up with Mazu. “Are you sure anyone is still here?” he asked. “It seems abandoned.”
Mazu looked up the remaining steps towards the columns and entrance ahead. “It is not. He is here. I feel him nearby.” Then they walked together up to the dark entrance.
As they entered under the roof supported by the columns, a flock of seagulls was startled by the newcomers and flew off into the distance. Mazu and D’Molay were also taken by surprise for an instant, and stood tentatively at the entrance, peering in. D’Molay could see that the square shaped temple was lit only by a smaller square opening in the roof that let in the sunlight. Just beyond the main entrance, another set of marble steps descended into the area where the sunlight reached. But despite the fact that the room was partly open to the sky, it was still very dark and murky in the temple. D’Molay breathed in the strong, earthy smell that only comes when standing water has been left in a pond or fountain for too many years. A humid mist, warmed by the sun coming in from the roof, filled the temple and obscured the details of the room. A few more birds flew out of the opening at the top of the temple as they stood there.
Mazu’s voice broke the tension that seemed to hang in the air with the mist. “Glaucus? It is I, Mazu. We ask to speak with you.”
There was silence for a few seconds before a long-unused voice creaked out of the misty darkness, “I know who you are Mazu. I have no wish to talk to any gods today. Leave me.”
D’Molay spoke next. “I am no god – I am a Freeman. I come for your aid in time of need.” D’Molay had kept his promise to Mazu. As agreed, she had spoken first, but he would not sit by the sidelines and be dismissed before they’d even started. D’Molay was always like this, determined to succeed, trying to help whenever he could. He was a crusader even before he had come to the Realms of the Gods.
Then the voice from the dark came again. “A free man? There is no such thing as a free man, for no man is truly free. But a man, you may be. I have not seen a man in many a year. They stopped coming to me when I ordered them never to return.” A watery, splashing sound could be heard from the darkness.
Mazu stepped forward into the humid gloom, “Glaucus, stop this, please. We need to ask you if you saw anything unusual in the sky. Please, a woman’s life hangs in the balance.”
“What care I for some mortal’s life? Let her die. It means nothing to me, unless you have something to offer for my help. Otherwise, be gone!”
“All right then. If you have knowledge we can use, I will exchange something for it,” D’Molay dared to offer. “Do you know anything about a bat creature that takes people? It flies over this lake all the time.”
There was a brief silence from the darkness, then, “I know of the creature.”
Mazu and D’Molay exchanged a look as both their hearts beat a little faster. “May we approach, Glaucus? Let us discuss this face to face,” Mazu proposed. D’Molay smiled at Mazu and gently nodded his head in the affirmative. Though the humid air and stagnant water was repugnant, he was quite curious about what Glaucus looked like. They might make better progress if they could look him in the eye.
They heard a sigh and more splashing. “Come down if you must. Just be prepared to get wet.”
The two of them descended the stairs. As they neared the bottom, they saw that the temple floor was filled with stagnant water to a depth of several feet. Apparently, Glaucus had let the room partially flood and had never bothered to empty it. Perhaps the water came through the roof from a heavy rain, or the lake water had risen enough to breach the temple entrance and collect down here at the lowest point. Small fish were swimming in the dark waters.
Mazu had no compunctions about stepping right into the murky black water as she could change herself into water anyway. D’Molay hesitated for only a second, then marched on ahead. “I can always buy a new pair of boots,” he thought to himself as his feet and legs got soaked.
“Glaucus, it is good to see you again my old friend,” said Mazu as she waded past the misty beams of sunlight toward a shadowy figure seated on a throne of some sort.
“We were never friends Mazu, but we were never enemies either,” Glaucus grunted.
D’Molay slogged into the patch of sunlight. As he passed through it, he realized why they hadn’t been able to see Glaucus. This was caused as much by the sunlight as it was from the darkness. Glaucus was hidden by the sunlight’s beam as it passed through the misty air. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he began to see the old god more clearly. He was a large bearded man with the lower body of a fish. His scales were metallic blue and his tail was long and pointed, like a webbed, flexible pitchfork. Even the skin on his upper body had a bluish tint and fish scales on it. His hair was white and stringy and he had gills on his neck. Dripping wet, as if he had just gotten out of a bath, Glaucus lounged sideways on a long throne that was darkly stained and nearly overgrown with moss. D’Molay wondered if Glaucus had been the first merman. He had heard stories of mermaids even when he lived on earth, though he had never seen one then.
Glaucus turned his attention to D’Molay. “So this is a man. They have not changed much.” He looked D’Molay directly in the eyes as he said, “I was a man once, long ago. But providence and the gods changed all that. Now I am immortal, so I can be miserable forever.”
Mazu looked sympathetic as she said, “You choose to be miserable. It doesn’t have to be that way, Glaucus.”
“I’m not in the mood for your motherly advice, Mazu,” Glaucus growled. “What do you wish to know about the Bat who hunts and carries? And what do you have to offer in exchange? Let us conduct this business so you can be gone from my sight! I need to get back in the water soon, so do not waste my time.” His fish tail swished back and forth in annoyance as he spoke to them.
Mazu decided she had better lay the cards on the table before the god grew impatient and threw them out. “Very well then Glaucus, I apologize. I was worried about you, that is all. What do you wish in exchange for information about where the Bat dwells and where it takes captives?”
Glaucus relaxed a little once he had heard what they were looking for. “Well, I know where your Bat lives and I know where it often flies, but I do not know where it takes its victims. You could ask him yourself if I give you directions to his lair.” Glaucus paused, then casually added, “In exchange, I want you to bring me the head of Circe.”
“The head of Circe?” both Mazu and D’Molay exclaimed at the same time. “You know we cannot do that! It is forbidden by council law for one deity to take the life of another without just cause. Being hired by you is not just cause,” Mazu went on to say.
Glaucus pointed at D’Molay, “He is not a deity. He is a free man. If you want to know about your Bat, that is my price, the head of Circe. If you cannot give me that – then leave now, ere I cleave you in two and feed you to my lake creatures.” Glaucus angrily slumped back on his throne. He had asked the same favor of many a hero over the ages, but none had ever been able to bring him Circe’s head, the only punishment he deemed suitable for the witch who had taken from Glaucus the only thing he’d ever cared about.