“I suppose” Theron thought somewhat morosely, “that a different life would not have hardened me to the disillusionments that seem to be part and parcel of my lonely existence.” It was not so much the harrowing experience of being cast adrift amidst a raging storm and landing on a deserted peninsula that disturbed him. For such trials Theron considered himself to be well prepared. No, it was the abysmal company in which he found himself that he viewed as his main point of grief towards an unforgiving fatum. As so often had been the case during his wretched life he found himself surrounded by a bunch of ungrateful bruisers and bashers who had no real appreciation for the finer points of his Art. True, Ragnar, that brutish anti- paladin of Kern seemed to have mellowed somewhat during the dangers they had shared and even accepted a little boost to his fighting abilities that would have shamed the charlatans who considered themselves “conduits of god this-or-that”. But it had been only grudgingly. Fortunately Torgun, his short and stocky companion had not shown the same reservations and had all too eagerly accepted his services. As had that shifty looking old woman, Charis. She did seem mightily strong for an old crone. Or perhaps her appearance was nothing but a disguise. He had mulled her name around in his head for often, in his experience, these things have a significance all of their own. But in no ancient language he knew of did it mean anything pointing to a connection with the infamous “Green Viper”. All he had encountered in the vast stores of knowledge locked within his head were some vague references to ancient goddesses of Grace, Beauty and Fertility. Surely he must be mistaken. No, if there truly was a “Beautiful Goddess” amongst them it must be the delightful Kallithea. A woman dedicated to the pursuit of carnal pleasure and willing to sell her body for hard coin. Now there was a kindred spirit! The only thing he had ever appreciated about That Great Fraud People Called Religion had been the wonderful tradition of Temple Whores in some distant cultures. He could already picture voluptuous Kallithea, as a radiant demi-goddess, presiding over the only meaningful spiritual experience this hard and unforgiving world had ever granted Mankind. The Little Death indeed. And what to think of Matunde? Big and black, towering over the rest of them, he was a fine example of his breed. And he did seem mightily hungry. Come to think of it, so was he. Perhaps, if they did not appreciate his Spellcasting they might be more open to the exquisite crab cakes he was planning on preparing. If he was going to die here, it was sure as hell not going to be with an empty stomach.