There were nine temples in town. A ShrineTown, filled with sacred places, cults and small shrines. Pilgrims of dozens of denominations traveled to this place. That also attracted all manner of Peddlers, hustlers, travelers and mercenaries. Godly trails rarely brought godly men.

And they all needed to eat.

The Bacchian Temple provided the best food and in the most quantities to any who asked.

The Apollonian temple healed, the Temple of the Goddess loved, the Rage Temple battled. All paled in comparison to the Cult of Gluttons.

Brother Bao had come to the cult from the East. Not the Far East. Just eastwards from the Yarldoms. He had traded a comfortable monastery for a land filled with monsters and barbarians. His old temple was too strict and forgot the greatest joy a person can give.

A decent meal.

I just need to feed people, he thought, his wide jolly face always rested with a smile. He stood apart from the Greco and Latin monks. He was still a Buddhist monk. They enjoyed him. Probably because my cooking is better.

He sat at a table beneath the temple. The air warm with sweet smells and stored food. On the table sat two bowls. In one bowl, a pink mush of pork, chicken, onions, cabbage and corn. Seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, home-brewed soy and what little sesame and ginger he could grow himself. Or buy from the Peddlers at extortionate rates.

The other bowl had a rich paste of gelatinized chicken and pork broth.

Across the table was a junior monk, Nikan, rolled out small disks of dough. A young Greco boy with curly brown hair and a natural tan. The local girls must love him. Good thing the Bacchian cult celebrated indulgences in all their forms.

Brother Bao filled each dumpling and pulled it into a perfect roll with an exact number of pleats. He placed it in a birch bark basket for later steaming.

It was a quiet, calming and methodical task.

The Brothers of Gluttony enjoyed it. Make due with what you have, feed the hungry. That was the only divine tenet Brother Bao accepted.


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