All cities are reflections of the one city, and at some point in their lives all seekers find their feet drawn along strange paths in search of things they cannot name. For cities are finite things, and whatever secret places they hold, they are ultimately mundane secrets; the alley ways end in mountains of trash, or open sewers, or give way at last to empty lots gone back to a sad and stunted nature. The exotic, the precious, the obscene, the glorious and the profane are all tainted by the sundry limits of the world, so that not even a hint of divine madness can long last as more than a flicker of flame in a wind, or the virtue of a new-minted whore.
Yet hunger drives the seekers to where hungers burn bright, and the steps of the pilgrim may yet step into red-litten shadows, and through the little door where the Keeper hands out her faded yellow tickets, the same strange smile on her face...a face that belongs to no one race or no one time. Then the attendant comes and leads them down that long hallway of red lamps, whose light spills out into the street. Beneath each lamp, a door and a statue of a god; each god engrossed in a lascivious benediction.
Here the crooked-spine is bent almost double, lips locked upon the base of his own member; there, dual female divinities, fecund with life, locked together in an endless circle; or two devis are locked together, and a third presses himself between their facing mounds; farther on there are stranger things...gods of whips and chains, or coupled with beasts of the forest, field, and barnyard. As the knees buckle and the tongue burns, there are things that leave behind the dross of physical possibility, where terrible endowments pervert the form, and some of the gods wear inhuman shapes, exquisite in their detail. Always, always, the pilgrim stops at one of those lamps, and turns within to pay homage to the idol by engaging in the rite.
For the only offering acceptable in the red-litten temple is yourself.
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