Mirrored from Sythyry.
Saza: “Let’s look at the other door with the god symbols next. I’ll bet we get three more temples, one to Lenhirrik, and the temples of the other two will tell us something.”
Dorze: “What will it tell us?”
Saza: “It will give us further insight into the Interior Decoration of the Gods.”
Lithia: “Oh, are you saying these temples weren’t built by the Elfimel?”
Saza: “I would guess not. No mortal architect would build an altar room for a thousand people with a very long staircase between it and the nearest restroom.”
Dorze: “We haven’t seen that yet, actually.”
Sapling-Eyes: “I’ll bet it’s that way, behind the door with the lifted tail and bottom.”
Nobody was in that much of a hurry to explore the mysteries of an alien lav, so they went on to the presumed triple temple. Which was, in fact, a triple temple: behind the door the corridor forked in three, each path of which ascended a short spiral staircase through stone and came to an altar room big enough for a thousand or so, but smaller and less glorious than the one to Mircannis.
The central one was to Lenhirrik, and that was bad enough. The walls were hung with tapestries. Many were tapestries of plants as one might expect: the fruit-trees that Phaniet and all had seen, giant flowers such as Strayway rested in, smaller flowers. The ‘bad enough’ is that there were tapestries of animals, rabbits and sheep and gerbils and tapirs, as well, which would be bitchy bitchy heresy on the World Tree. One never celebrates Lenhirrik with animals!
The left one had a pond for an altar. At the bottom of the pond were any number of enigmatic symbols, or symbols that were perfectly sensible in their own right but that don’t go with water or each other: an hour glass, a mirror, a mug, a spiral of feathers, all sorts of things. We conjectured that one god managed Aquador, Tempador, Illusidor, Durudor, maybe some Corpador, and maybe other things too.
The right one had an intense flame for an altar, a perpetual flame wrapped in a vortex of air inside a vast obsidian bowl. Pyrador, certainly; Airador and maybe Durudor by the same god?
Everyone: “Well, if they’ve got only 1+3 gods, they’re going to have to double and triple up on stuff. Or leave out fire entirely, but they seem not to have done that.”
Which was all very alien, if nothing else. Obviously a universe can be built by other arrangements than the familiar and natural 7+12 gods. It is strange and upsetting that Mircannis would participate in such a construction.
Lithia: “It might be nice to investigate that alien restroom next.”
Everyone There: “Sure.”
Behind the door with footprints and lifted tail there was another corridor. Not as long as the others, but not so short either: a third of a mile. (“I don’t know, Lithia. Whoever built this didn’t think someone rushing to get there before it’s too late.”) Beyond that, and beyond the inevitable iron-worked door, was a small room with a small but swift stream cutting it diagonally. A pair of flat rocks provided footing, and one could, indeed, lift one’s big fluffy tail (or Orren approximation thereof) and take advantage of the clean running water of the stream.
Lithia: “I do hope that’s what it’s used for, or we’ve just desecrated someone’s altar.”
Saza: “It’s not an altar; there’s no space for an audience here.”
Lithia: “Just as well. I don’t need an audience at such times; not even my wife or consort.”
Saza: “Continuing on about the mind of the architect … there’s only one pair of footpads in here. Only one person at a time can use this room conveniently. Someone else could stand like this or like this if they were desperate, but so much for privacy Definitely the architect was some sort of divine being, unused to the needs of the flesh.”
Dorze: “Well, the room smells fine, except for the scents of recent usage. It’s perfumed, even.”
Saza: “There must be some hidden source of perfume, then. A gracious concession on the part of Mircannis to the beauty of Heaven, even in this least beautiful of needs, I suppose.”
Beyond the door marked with a Rassimel-style phallus was the macabre. A large field in a cavern with a distant sun painted on the roof, planted with ferns and weeping lilies. Five tall, pale phalli stood erect, growing from low mounds of soil like so many plants. Three of them were surrounded with circles of jagged broken plates of shiny metal, silver perhaps. The soil was mounded in many, many places, but only five were presently presenting.
Lithia: “This is quite disturbing. And I say this as an Orren who generally likes Rassimel phalli.” (If she’s ever seen one in action, I haven’t heard about it. Unless she’s been sponting sex-shifting spells while she was in Rassimel phase … actually that’s pretty likely. I must never, ever ask.)
Phaniet: [after hearing about it] “Oh, that must be the Phallic Graveyard that my Elfimel informants mentioned once. I wouldn’t ride any of those if I were you; you’d likely be the mother to an Elfimel.”
Saza: “Ow! I was making no such plans, but only in a passive ‘the idea had never occurred to me’ sort of way. Now I am actively making such plans in the ‘what a horrid concept!’ sort of way.”
Dorze: “Let’s leave. It smells of buried corpses in here. Corpses and compost.”
The Bathroom of Heaven
The next door in line emitted a plashing and a gurgling sound. Everyone suspected that there was water behind it.
Everyone: “There must be water behind it!”
And indeed there was, and clearly designed for bathing, at that. A vast … fountain? Public pond? … of seven concentric circles, the smallest of which was the size of a temple room. The innermost ones were raised higher than the outer ones, and an assortment of ramps, ladders, and staircases stretched from each to the next. The inner three were steaming.
Sapling-Eyes: “Now that is the first thing that has actually looked paradisiacal to me. I’d love to go sliding down those ramps.”
Lithia: “Oh? Oh! Yes! Me too, me too, for I am an Orren!” She concentrated, forced her body to change, held her belly as the cramps took her, and, afterwards, was actually Orren instead of just looking Orren.
Dorze: “Perhaps we’d better make sure it’s OK with the locals first? Given that it’s in the same region of Heaven as the graveyard and the temples, it might be sacred or something. Reserved for special occasions.”
Sapling-Eyes: “Probably wise.”
The last room was upsetting. It held machines — simple machines — which seemed only one purpose: to allow one to inflict pain upon one’s self.
The dry diving board was a case in point. It looked like a diving-board tower: a narrow staircase ascending fifty feet, and every ten feet, a landing with a short plank that one could walk off of. One would land on the floor, which would be painful from the lowest one, and very painful indeed from the highest.
The rope and hammer was another. A pair of columns with a crossbar on top, and a wheel, and a rope. On one end of the rope was a heavy pointed weight. A bed sort of thing was arranged under the columns, and the rope tethered to the side of it, at the right place for the bed’s occupant to hoist the weight and let it fall upon her.
That sort of thing.
Everyone: “What on wood — or off of it! — is a place like this doing in Heaven?”
Dorze went sniffing around. “Well, there’s old blood under the diving board. I think someone went off the top plank … maybe two weeks ago, three, something like that. It’s kinda strange blood though. Mixed with sap or something. And the body got dragged off towards the door, I guess, but the trail got washed away.” He pointed to a small fountain of clear water, and a mop next to it.
Everyone muttered about how strange and unpleasant this room was, and how they didn’t want to stay in it. So, they didn’t.