As I walked into the Temple of Calistria I instantly regretted not bringing Vale with me. I’ve learned a lot about Desna from Vale. The only other God I know much about is Nethys. No God or Goddess is worshipped in Thronestep other than the Living God. But I was angry at Vale. Virion and I weren’t the closest of friends; if we were friends at all. But we were walking the same path, and to kill him in his moment of weakness was…disturbing at best. Maybe Virion was more trouble than he was worth. I could see that argument and its merit. Personally, there was too much left of Virion’s mystery to explore to want to see him dead. He was A Challenge. But what was truly reprehensible, absolutely unforgivable, was Vale’s refusal to help his own kin. Blood is all that is real. Family is all that matters. Everything I do will, in the end, better my family’s situation, directly or indirectly.
It is disgusting that he would refuse any creature’s help after reading the letter from his sister. Her writing was desperate, pleading. And yet she didn’t address the letter to him? They are so estranged that when she’s begging perfect strangers for help, she doesn’t even include him among those she asks? What sort of family is that? Elves spend hundreds of years alive, apparently estranged from each other? Maybe his sister wouldn’t be in such dire straits if she had an army of her own family behind her. My family would rally to my side for the slightest word of distress. Everything I do is for them. I joined the Pathfinders for them. I accepted this mission in Magnimar for them. Because I am the matriarch now, I found anyway I could to learn the magic faster. I will collect these artifacts for them. If Vale wants to take them to the Worldwound to help defeat demons there, I will make sure they are also taken to Thronestep to defeat the imposter God. There is no better way that I could serve my family. I will walk this road for them.
If a devil offered me a gift of a contract providing my family with safety in return for a ride in my mind, it would have it. The loss of my soul is worth it for my family’s well-being. Not only was he unwilling to give his sister that blessing, he was also unable to find the courage within himself to save her from the threat of the same devil. She seems to have enough trouble to deal with, he let the devil loose by killing Virion, he should have taken responsibility for it. I hope his sister is mightier than the brother that has been given to me as a companion. If he can’t be trusted to have the back of his own blood, how could I possibly trust him?
But. He does know quite a bit about the various Gods and Goddesses. I walked into the Temple of Calistria not really knowing what to expect. I was envisioning a well-run brothel, from the very brief descriptions that Vale offered before I left the manor. What I was not expecting was all the wasps. Wasps everywhere. In tiles, in statues, in wall décor. Some of them anthropomorphic, a beautiful woman with wasp wings. I’m not afraid to admit that I was I little surprised. I may have been standing near the doorway like an idiot for a few minutes while I took it all in.
I’m no stranger to sex. I was only thirteen when I had my first man, and he wasn’t my last man either. I can’t say I ever paid for one though. Usually it was a friend of one of my brother’s, or someone who caught my fancy at an inn. Or maybe someone who just bought me enough drinks at the inn. I’m not ashamed of my past. Maybe that comes from being in a female-dominated family; we’re afforded all the same luxuries and opportunities as the men in my family. So if I wanted to fuck someone, and they were game, I did it. And they usually were.
But this was a little different. I never thought I’d be in a temple looking to buy a man’s services. But here I was. Someone approached me, and asked me what I was there for. I tend to speak my mind, and not bandy words. I’m almost certain he didn’t catch the true meaning of my request the first time through. But when he took me to the back to discuss real terms I think the depth of my need was understood. Good thing that Virion had deep pockets – and no need for the wealth any longer.
The man, Antony was his name, took me on a walk around the Temple after terms had been agreed upon. I felt it important that the person I chose had a sense of adventure and would not be too disturbed by the fast pace and lack of comfort that this journey was promising. If it was possible, some knowledge of the sword (the blade) was desirable as well. Antony did his best to guide my selection to what I said I wanted.
There was no lack of choice at this temple. There were some men who were clearly only worshippers of Calistria’s lustful side. They wore soft silk pants and vests, and were bare-chested. Many of them were just as hairless and perfumed as the women who stood by their sides. While many of them were attractive enough and I’m sure they were well-versed in giving women pleasure, they lacked a strength that I find more alluring.
I passed by a handful of the more scholarly sort. There was a raven-haired and dark eyed elf who was looking through a leather bound book of pornographic images. The book seemed to be somehow instructional in nature. He looked dark and somewhat mysterious, and a little more than exotic. Antony told me that he only favored men. When I looked at the book he was perusing for a second time I noticed that all the figures were men.
There were plenty others to choose from. There were other men who served Calistria in a more martial fashion, but Antony assured me that they would all gladly serve her lustful side as well. I had to laugh a little bit at that. He walked me through a room where these more martial sorts were busy changing shifts and getting dressed. They walked around unabashedly naked. Men and women changed in this room cheerfully mixing. An auburn haired man sat with his legs splayed while a woman knelt before him, pleasuring him. Not more than a few steps away, another couple was intimately entwined and vocal about their pleasure. Antony told me that the worshippers of Calistria have many different methods for spending their time of morning worship, and many chose to spend it In this fashion.
More than a small part of me was wondering if I should convert to Calistria’s worship.
There was every sort of man in this room. Tall and short, elven, half-elven, a few of mixed race. My eyes settled on a sandy-haired man. He was easily one of the tallest men in the room. He had pale skin to match his pale hair; which to me, who has never been outside this dark-toned region of the world , was exotic in itself. There was a story behind why this man was in this city. He had broad shoulders and arms, which were clearly strong. I could imagine him as a farmhand in some farway place that wasn’t smothered in sand. His muscular frame also carried a layer of soft skin, ending in a small round belly at his midsection which I also found attractive.
Antony saw me evaluating this man, and he grinned at me while he spoke. “Oh that one? He’s new here. From Andoran, I think. Only been here a few weeks. His physique wasn’t appropriate to offer, well… he’s a wonderful guard. Are you sure that you aren’t more interested in Xion, perhaps?” He gestured to another man who was perfectly chiseled and tanned. “Xion would be worth your…considerable donation to Calistria. He is very popular, and has been worshipping here for many years. I would hate to lose him in the guard, even for ten days, but I am sure he would please you.”
Antony wasn’t wrong, Xion was an admirable specimen, and his nudity made the rest of him easy to evaluate as well. He was impressive. But there was something about the sandy-haired foreigner that made me grin. There was a bit of a naïve innocence in his demeanor.
His broad shoulders, barrel chest, and ale belly gave me a sense of safety and good-natured security. I told Antony as much who continued to be surprised at my choice. He spoke again, earnestly, “You must try him then. I am sure he is no virgin, but he has not been given to lustful worship here at this temple. Here, I will speak to him, I will not tell him of the journey until you approve of his skill.” With that, he walked away towards the man immediately. I have to admit that I was a little embarrassed. A little. And more than a little turned on.
I could see Antony speak to the man. Antony was a normal-sized Varisian, and was dwarfed by the size of this Andoran. I could see that the man was clearly deferring to Antony’s seniority; a characteristic that would be helpful in this delicate mission. When Antony got around to mentioning me, he gestured toward me, and I tried to stand tall with a cool arrogance – the way I had seen many men buy their night women. I’m not sure I pulled it off, but I tried. They both walked toward me, the man had a clear shade of blush in his cheeks, and was casually attempting to hide arousal.
The sandy-haired many was quickly introduced to me as Beren Fairlane, and Antony ushered us out of the muster room of the Calistrian temple. There were a few looks of jealousy on the faces of the others who were going to worship Calistria in less pleasurable ways.
I didn’t say anything to Beren as Antony walked us to a small, but cosy room. It was dimly lit, and many pillows of various sizes were scattered about the room, covering it almost entirely. There was a pleasant fragrance in the air, a flower that I didn’t know the name of. A small table held a handful of different types of alcohol. Antony smiled at both of us, and then spoke to me as if Beren were not there, “Take as long as you need. Please do let me know if you would like to use Beren for your venture, or perhaps if you would like to choose another.” Antony still seemed incredulous about my decision, but he backed out of the room and left us alone.
I looked up at Beren. Without the lubrication of alcohol and merriment I was feeling a bit awkward. Beren looked down at me with a very pleasant half-smile. His voice was deep and seemed prone to jocularity, “A Varisian woman with violet eyes? I haven’t seen such color since I was last home, and even then it was rare.” He touched my chin, nudging me face upward so he could see my eyes better. I was mystified. This was a man who had clearance to fuck me at any time, and he’s still bothering to comment on my eyes. Perhaps it is part of the Calistrian training.
It was several hours later when I emerged from the room with Beren. I hadn’t felt that calm and fulfilled in a long time. I had shared the details of the mission with him during a period of recovery. I spoke to him plainly, only sharing the necessary details, while I laid my head on his chest and my arm on his soft midsection. My initial evaluation of Beren wasn’t wrong. He had been a shepherd of cattle before leaving Andoran. He was older than he looked – just over thirty. He spoke easily and always with a smile; he loved food and ale. He was blessed in many ways that I’m sure Calistria would be proud of.
When we walked out of the Temple, I didn’t bother stopping to tell Antony my decision. We walked out together, his arm around my shoulder and mine around his waist. I certain that my choice didn’t need to be spoken.