Friday, September 30, 2011

When Old Friends Come To Visit

The old priest had his head bowed, kneeling before the grand marble altar. His lips moved in silent prayer, not disturbing the stillness of the temple in the midnight hour. Julianus Nacross prayed, begging to hear his god's voice again. It'd been about a month and a half since Torm had gone silent. From what he'd heard from the other churches in the Baldur's Gate, this may not be affecting his faith alone.

The priest's devotions were interrupted however, by something that seemed familiar but Julianus could not quite put his finger on it. He lifted his head, his bushy brows meeting in confusion. There hadn't been a noise that disturbed him... no, it was... it was a scent, an odor. He sniffed, and then sniffed again. He turned back slowly, peering into the gloom of the darkened church, back towards the huge oaken double doors that served as entrance into the temple. Back there, there was a figure, hard to see in the shadows and faint candle light. Noticing that he'd been seen, the figure started forward and as it drew nearer, Julianus could finally make out details.

It was a man, middle aged and middle height, balding, walking on spindly legs and with a pot belly. Many would've found the man's appearance comical, but Julianus did not. He could only watch as the man walked up the aisle, between the pews, towards him and the altar. More and more details made themselves clearer. The man was dressed in a knee length tunic and leggings, both in a shabby state. He was barefoot and wherever he laid his foot down, it left a smoking, smoldering footprint on the rich carpet of the aisle. Coming closer still, the priest could see that the man's teeth were nothing more than brown and black stumps, and his eyes, they were red. Not the red that comes from weeping, but the red of bright, oxigenated blood. And finally, Julianus' nose wrinkled in disgust as the odor, no, stench assaulted him. A mix of decay and shit.

"Ahhh, hello, old friend," the man spoke. Julianus' brow remained furrowed in concentration and confusion, trying to find where he knew this man from.

Suddenly, his face cleared, recognition dawing upon him in a mask of horror.

"Agglemax?" the priest whispered to himself.

"You do remember! Ah, what's it been, how long ago? Thirty, thirty five years by your reckoning?" the man chuckled, "All those years ago; me, you and the boy. How is he, by the way?"

Using the altar to pull himself stiffly up to his feet, Julianus said in a voice that sounded far more confident than he felt "He is safe and well, daemon and none of your concern. Now what do you want and how have set foot in this holy place?"

The creature turned it's head, it body convulsing in painful retching. Bent over at the waist, the man's jaws were agape as choking sounds eminated from him. Julianus watched in horror as thin, stick like legs came probing out of the man's mouth and an orange and green spider forced its way free. The arachnid fell to the floor and scuttled away. The man straightened, pounding himself on the chest. "Knew that'd come back on me. Now, as to how I got to this place, events are in motion in the heavens, the hells and everywhere in between. Old bindings and barriers have weakened. Long have I watched you, since our first meeting. That was what, your third or fourth excorcism?" the man chuckled ruefully, shaking his head. "All the torments and tortures I received, because you through me out. A good fight it was, two weeks. From the looks of you, you couldn't do it now.

"I cast you out once, I can do so again," Julianus cried, his Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed nervously. He was empty, an emptiness he'd never felt. But he would fight, and fight to the last. Maybe that would bring Torm's light back to the faithful. With a speed he hadn't seen in years, Julianus whirled and charged across the temple to one of the tall candlesticks. Five feet in height, made of carved solid oak and topped with a footlong spike that a candle could be stuck on, he swept up this improvised weapon and ripped the taper off, exposing the deadly spike. He brandished this like a spear, to impale his opponent. The candles were twenty five feet away from the altar, he should have time to turn and charge back at the daemon.

As Julianus turned back upon his enemy, he was astonished to find Agglemax had somehow moved up to him, quieter than a mouse. The priest thrust the improvised spear at the man. With an almost contemptous grimace, Agglemax grabbed the spike in a vice-like grip and stopped it's forward motion. Starting where the hand gripped the spike, the seasoned and polished wood rotten, cracked, greyed and sprouted worms as it decayed there in the priest's hands. Agglemax then pulled the candlestick from the priest's hands and cast it aside.

"WHERE IS YOUR TORM NOW?!?" thundered Agglemax, the tall stained glass windows that lined the church hall shattered inward, a mighty wind blew out the candles. Julianus cringed, and began to weep.

"Oh, no tears. It is a waste of good suffering," Agglemax almost whispered. He reached down and took the priest's head roughly in his now clawed hands. "I only came to have a talk, like old friends, about old times."

"I want to talk about the salvation of a boy's soul," Agglemax the Corrupted murmured, his thumbs pressing into Julianus' eyes, "And the eternal damnation of your's."

The priest's screams reached out into the long, dark night as the daemon laughed.

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