Rising above the hills the sun lit up a campsite where three pilgrims slept. As the beams of light fell upon their heads the pilgrims awoke to greet the new day. One pilgrim went to gather more wood for the fire while another retrieved the food they hoisted onto a tree the night before. Sitting on his cot the third pilgrim was carving deep wounds into his thighs as he recited verses from an ancient poem.
Neither of these pilgrims knew anything about the other, they met a few weeks ago at an inn near the Black Forest outside of Alderbaen. They each were heading to the same destination so they figured they would travel in a group to fare better against the hostile environment.
The food retrieving pilgrim returned to see his companions thigh soaked in blood, tears rolled down the pilgrim’s face as he sliced himself over and over again.
“Are you mad?” The pilgrim said as he saw the man’s leg.
“Penance, my brother. Penance. For I have sinned.”
“What sin have you committed?”
Opening his rucksack the man pulled out a pouch full of fine cut gems, “I stole them from the caravan that passed us a few days ago.”
“You can’t just mutilate yourself and be forgiven for your sins.”
“And why not?” A new voice said walking from out of the forest from the southwest, “How does one become forgiven?”
The pilgrim turned around, the unknown man was fully cloaked his face was covered but he walked as if he could see everything, “One becomes forgiven by changing his ways. Learning from his mistakes and striving to overcome.”
“Are you sure?” the man said, lifting his hood off, “that’s the only way one can be forgiven?”
“Well of course. Why hurt yourself by mutilating your flesh while you’re hurting yourself for wanting forgiveness for a sin.”
“Because all Gods are different, just as all people are different.” The cloaked man broke out into maniacal laughter, “So who are you to say his mutilation didn’t give him forgiveness?”
“I am Reinheart, son of Fel. Pilgrim to the Go –
Interrupting the man the god swallowed the pilgrim, a grim smile stretch across his face as he wiped a bit of blood from his lip. From the west the second pilgrim returned with fire wood. He witnessed his companion get swallowed whole. He dropped the firewood and notched an arrow onto his bowstring pulling back with all his might. When he fired the arrow he watched as the cloaked man vanished leaving only his cloak to fall to the ground. The man appeared again as a small stream of black light that followed the arrows trajectory, matching its speed. As the arrow fell into the ground the black light disappeared.
The pilgrim who had been cutting himself was staring at the black cloak in despair as the other pilgrim ran to his aid.
“Are you alright?”
“He,” The pilgrim tried to speak, “He ate him. He just stood there and swallowed him whole.”
As the pilgrim finished his sentence the cloaked man appeared behind the firewood gathering pilgrim.
“Of course I did my child.” The cloaked man said, “He was lying to himself. I for one know that self-mutilation is a path to forgiveness, I love the sight of pain and you my friend had done some great damage to your thighs.”
The firewood gathering pilgrim turned white as the cloaked man placed his hand on top of his head. The pilgrim’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and soon blood was pouring from every orifice on his body.
“Who are you?” The pilgrim who was practicing his penance asked.
“I am your Lord; I am Asijin, God of Hedonism. You are my child and I came to tell you that your prayers have been answered.” The God of Hedonism laughed as he saw the penance practicing pilgrim cringe, “I have come to be your release from your sins.”
Lifting the pilgrim who ran to his friend’s aid the God of Hedonism placed the man into his gaping maw eating him in one bite. Asijin stood with the mutilated man until he bled out. When the man had finally deceased Asijin placed a finger on the top of his head and began to twirl his finger in a clockwise motion. After a quick second an intense strand of light came rushing from the top of the deceased man skull and Asijin departed back to his netherworld home along with the soul of the pilgrim.