Once every ten years the Ziggurat of Mah-Kuss the Eternal Bridegroom is opened to the public. At all other times it is the domain solely of Mah-Kuss and his priests, but during the festival couples come from miles around to ask the blessing of Mah-Kuss and to be wed under his auspices.
This festival brings sellers and merchants, gawkers and tourists as well as people with more private goals. Among the crowd this decade were the fighters Gorlac and Kaiser; Ehud the clubfooted mage; and Garrett Osmond the cleric.
A procession of voluptious young women, clad only in white robes, rode five pure white pregnant mules up the ziggurat's steps and to the a circular hole in its crown. Each women carried a precious gift which they dropped into the hole as an offering to Mah-Kuss. They then jumped in themselves, disappearing in the darkness below into what seemed to be a vast space.
Our staunch adventurers were incredibly tempted by that hole. And only after much discussion did they and their mostly female hirelings decide to follow the teeming crowd of couples into the ziggurat itself. Garret began questioning his local hireling Anand while in line about the customs involved with the event. He also attempted to woo a women in line, with little success; she expected him to have something of value to offer Mah-Kuss before even considering wedding him.
Inside, after some stalling with the traditional kiss of the giant stone phallus, the group passed through heavy velevet drapes into a large space, dimly lit and smelling of moisture. Before them was a lagoon of milk and couples were getting into wooden boats carved in the shape of lotus flowers. Each boat had a priest acting as a gondolier.
The party noticed that the priests embarking on the boats had different color robes of silk: blue and green. They also noticed there seemed to be some friction between these two sects. As the boats floated past islands of baboons and a giant peacock, Ehud cast a charm spell on his priest-gondolier.
Caru the priest in blue, told Ehud, his new fast friend, of a quick way down to the next level of the ziggurat. As he rowed off course the surrounding boats jostled after him with shouts and arguing. As the priests argued on shore the party and its hirelings headed down a ladder into a large room. The room was featureless but for a giant stone egg. After finding that the egg rested on the floor and not on a pedestal, Garret Osmond rallied the hirelings to heave on the egg. They egg began to roll after which it smashed into a doorway with a crash, blocking it.
The square room had doors on all sides. The party went west. The wide corridors were lined with life-sized stone statues of women, presumably some of the 665 brides of Mah-Kuss. They explored several empty rooms, heard what sounded like a baboon through a wall, and saw a nude couple frolicking happily past. They also encountered two green-clad priests while Ehud quoted from the Codex of Mah-Kuss that "marriage is a yoke" The priests asked "A yolk? As in an egg?" with furrowed brows upon which Garret and Gorlac proceeded to quickly brain them.
After more wandering the party entered a very large chamber filled with exotic birds. These cockatiels, doves, canaries, and various birds-of-paradise raised a cacaphony and flew back and forth through the air as they entered. As the party entered a party of temple guards also entered through an opposite door. These oddly pale folk were dressed in gold tinted lorica hamata and carried gladii.
What followed next was a confusion of birds, of fleeing, of entering the bird room again, of baboons and guards. At the end of it Kaiser was unconsious, Gorlac had brained several opponents, Garret had tried baboon carcasses as a missile weapon and Ehud was long on his way fleeing back to the ladder.
The party and what was left of the ill-starred hirelings met up with a group of six priests clad in green. They convinced them that they had been set upon by priests clad in blue. The Green priests, outraged, escorted the party up by way of another ladder.
The party found themselves where the boat ride would have ended if they had completed it. Another large phallus to be kissed, velvet drapes to be passed through and they were in a huge room full of couples ready to be wed.
A physical confrontation between green and blue priests was stopped by the high priest who proceeded to marry all the couples. One of those couples was Ehud and his former hireling Indira, the drunk with the remarkable beard.
to be continued . . .