Nicodranas is a whirlwind of new sights. The buildings and the population alike are colorful; tieflings are hardly in the majority, but Molly’s seen plenty as Jester’s led the party all over town, frequently towing someone by the arm. (It’s probably a good thing she went for a magical disguise; a practical one probably would have been dislodged by now, with all her excited gesturing, he thinks.) There’s so much to see that it’s hard to focus on everything she’s saying, but he tries to tune back in for a moment.
“—the temple district,” Jester continues, waving down a street, “we don’t have to stop here if you don’t want, but I mean I should probably look at real estate there someday, you know? Because the Traveler has not got one yet, and all—”
From the back of the group, Yasha speaks up. “Actually, I’d like to see it.”
“Yeah, I could use a breather,” Caduceus adds. “Temple sounds like just the right kind of place.”
Jester does a little spin. “Okay! Let’s go see some temples!” And she takes off down the street, the Nein trailing after her.
The temple district isn’t even quieter than the others— street carts outside sell flowers, incense, and all manner of other offerings. Molly’s happy to just take it all in as Jester continues to narrate.
And then suddenly they’re splitting up— Caduceus has found a temple to the Wildmother, and Fjord, Nott, and Caleb have followed after him, probably hoping for a moment’s peace and quiet. Jester shrugs and opts not to follow. “Oh, well. What else? Oh! Molly!” She spins around and claps her hands. “There’s a temple to the Moonweaver over there! Do you want to go?”
“What, really?” Molly looks around, and sure enough, there’s the moon-and-arrows symbol over the doorway of one of the smaller buildings. “Yeah, I’d like to take a minute, if you don’t mind.” He hasn’t ever thought of Her having a temple, honestly, with all his life spent in the Empire. But he’s had a question for Her ever since he woke up by the roadside, and he’s not about to pass up the opportunity. Maybe he’s got a better chance at an answer if he’s in a temple? Worth a shot.
“Do you want us to come with you?” Yasha asks softly. Molly can see concern on her face; she might not know what’s up precisely, but she knows there’s something.
Molly thinks for a moment, then shakes his head. “I won’t be long, don’t worry. Go ahead— you’ve got a temple to look for, too.”
Jester gives a sly glance towards Beau. “The Stormlord’s temple is that way,” she says, pointing further down. “You two can go ahead, I will wait for Molly.” And sure enough, Beau perks up as she heads down the street alone with Yasha. Molly grins and heads into the temple.
He’s surprised to find that most of the temple doesn’t have a roof. There’s a reflecting pool in the center, and a big circular hole in the ceiling above it; clouds drift by overhead and the chatter from outside floats in, but he bets it’s a great view of the moon and stars at nighttime. On either side, there’s a little altar with offerings, flowers and incense and love-tokens, and little cakes shaped like the moon. There are benches set back from the altars, and he goes and sits down on one, and closes his eyes.
“Moonweaver, I know you can probably always hear, but I’d guess if you’re going to answer me anywhere this probably is where you’d do it,” he begins quietly. “I’m grateful for the second chance, I just— why did I get it? Is there something you need me to do? If there’s anything I need to do to hold up my end of the bargain, tell me, I want to do the right thing here.”
He waits a long moment, listening to the quiet activity of the temple, smelling the sea breeze as it wafts in from outside. Damn, he said he’d only be a minute, but he really wants to wait for an answer, just in case. His tail twitches back and forth around his ankles, thudding into one of the legs of the bench. The only question about his existence he really wants an answer to, and it just won’t come—
And then the daylight of the temple fades before his eyelids, and he opens his eyes to an endless sky of stars. He’s still sitting on the bench, but the temple and everything else is gone.
And She’s sitting on the bench beside him, smiling brightly.
“Oh, but you mortals are dramatic,” the Moonweaver says, and Her voice is like bells and silver and the waves at night. “Self-important, too, always looking for some big destiny.” The tips of Her ears twitch with amusement as She speaks, and She tosses Her hair in a shower of light. “‘Why?’ It’s one of my favorite questions, really. Sometimes the answer is big, and sometimes it’s small, and there’s always someone who wants to know either way. Something I love about mortals, that.”
She looks Molly over, still grinning, and he’s not sure if he’s being made fun of or not. Has he done something wrong? He has no idea what he’s doing, surely She knows that.
The Moonweaver reaches over and takes his hand in Hers, the blue glow of Her skin washing over his tattoos. “I don’t have any big destiny for you, Mollymauk,” she says. “I don’t have a quest, or a condition. Taking Champions has never been my style, when I can help it. There was an opportunity to bargain your life back, so I took it. Simple as that!” She gives his hand a squeeze. “It’s yours. All I ask that you do with it is live.” She lets go, and gives him a little swat on the cheek. “And you’ve been doing a pretty good job of it so far, aside from chasing a gift horse around trying to look it in the mouth. It’s okay. Just live, Mollymauk Tealeaf.”
And the Moonweaver gets up from the bench, and turns on Her heel, and suddenly Molly’s sitting in the temple again, just about as stunned as if he’d just been hit by a cart.
He shakes his head to clear it, setting all his jewelry to jingling, and swipes a hand across his eyes just in case there are tears. Yep, there’s a few. And then he smiles, and gets up, and gives the altar a theatrical bow, and heads for the exit, where Jester’s now conversing animatedly with one of the temple attendants, who seems surprisingly amenable to hearing about the Traveler. Maybe it’s a trickster thing.
The attendant gives him a grin as he approaches, and Jester calls out. “Did you have a good visit? You looked like you were focusing really hard!”
“Yeah, I did.” Molly’s grinning now too, and gods, he feels so light now, he could hug Jester, he could hug the attendant, he could hug everyone in this room. He settles for looping an arm through one of Jester’s. “It went great. I’m glad you showed me this. Want to find the others and go get some more pastries? You’ve been showing us round all day, you probably could use some more sugar to keep going.”
“Yes, of course, I will always eat more pastries,” Jester replies. “Thank you for listening, mister acolyte, and the Traveler bless you!”
“And the Moonweaver bless you two as well,” the attendant tells her amiably, and then Jester’s tugging Molly out the door. The rest of the Nein have wandered back towards the street, and Molly links his other arm with Yasha’s when she gets close enough, and makes a joking attempt at tripping Beau with his tail, and sets everyone to laughing as Jester tows them all off to the nearest sweet shop.
Yeah, he can do that.