Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Eighteen

Striated marble gleaming of alabaster, storm-grey, and basalt adorned the temple’s grand exterior, evidently all derived from the same quarry in attempt to preserve the striation’s long rivulets that ran the whole of its sparkling surface, an exultant testament to the glory of the undying sky, but it was obvious that she had fallen on hard times.  Certainly dwarfing the myriad temples ranged all about, she had not been so much maintained as merely swept, stone figures of rampant templars collapsed and left in the weedy foregrounds, face-first in the dirt to ruminate ever-after below the paddling of alien soles beating the accumulated dust and collapsed masonry into a conglomerated powder that glinted nevertheless ever-so-slightly in the still lingering innocent eye of a passing child or a surreptitious cavalier carefully striding by, fearful of being noticed.

“Carefully maintained and respectfully preserved?  You know, if I weren’t so peaceful a man, I’d actually be mad.”

“Oh oh oh, it’s not that bad,” she remonstrated.  “Our own temples devoted to our own deities have always respected the pre-eminence of Brassos.”

“And you think that’s sufficient?”

“Skilled craftsmen are nowadays few and far between.  It would take an act of will to secure such resources, certainly of anyone capable of reproducing such ancient style.”

He paused, surveying the wreckage, before shaking his head.  He strode before the vaulted entrance concealed behind weather-beaten wooden slats adjoined with a long metal chain and a welded iron lock evidently untested in lifetimes.

“The god’s temple is to ever remain open,” he moaned through sibilant teeth.

“There was a difficulty,” she replied, her eyes wandering to the mundane, “with vandalism against the temple, the local Ivederenghoi having taken issue with the perceived silence of their deity.”

“And you couldn’t maintain a permanent vigil, place a guard at the fore?”

“I confess, few so ordained were willing to remain for long.  Even upon its edifice it bears an alien countenance and decibel silence menacing from within from an impenetrable darkness that swells before the eyes.  You yourself have spoken of the god’s preference for his children.  It is not bluster.”

“My word,” he replied, “how can I argue with that?  All heresy and hearsay vomited from the mouths of scaly brutes.  I should make a contention, but I confess, somewhat darkly, my curiosity has gotten the better of me.”  He wiped the sweat from his eyebrows before again glancing up to absorb the facade of the forgotten stained-glass elucidation of the knighting of Saint Aloisius.  In a practiced motion, his blade danced outward from his palm and promptly returned within its wooden domicile, neatly bisecting the welded lock which finally permitted the guardian rungs, with a gong, their final respite on the sandy floors to be joined shortly with the splinters of weather-beaten wood caved inwards under his forceful boot-heel.

“Coming?” he asked, smiling to one ear alone.

They shied away, recoiling against the sense of extraterrestrial boiling with long unreciprocated hatred within, but they nevertheless slowly followed his treads as he made his way amongst the darkness as if swimming in the light of day.