they brought a saucer of milk & honey still in its comb before the idol, in the hope that their journey through the long dark pass without the attentions of the demons of the third pale. their ship was one of the hebdomad, ancient & carved of black stone & oiled ash wood, older than all the cities of men. the idol struck them, & spat upon their faces. not the best of omens, though the cargo in the belly of the ship was perhaps the reason. when one shelters the followers of the black sutra, even the gods grow uneasy. even the organ music of its throat sang in a minor key, clammy winds blown across the severed wind-pipe as it screamed obscenities at them with noisless lips. they left, kowtowing, the temple virgins once more the deities only companions.