We are once again joined by Badaim to talk about the origins of Zolea, the Unclean. Be advised, the godess of Filth doesn’t have the cleanest story! And, as always, a themed deck! Zolea’s Valentines Gift
Zolea: the Unclean is based on the Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl. She was the patron deity of vice, purification, disease, filth, and adultery. Believed to have originated from the Huaxtec culture of the Mexican gulf coast before being assimilated into the Aztec pantheon, archaeological records suggest she may have appeared as early as 1000 BCE.
Tlazolteotl is represented on the Aztec calendar by the 13th tercena, which is a 13 day period among 20 vienteras in the 260-day year. It is believed this unusual calendar may have been based on the Venusian cycle, human gestation, or the importance of the numbers 13 and 20 in Aztec religion and mathematics; although the true origin and meaning still remains a mystery. She is represented on the calendar with the symbol for reed on the trecena, and a jaguar on the 14th vientera (which Mark's the end of the 13th 13 of the year).
Like many Aztec deities, she has several aspects and depictions. Sometimes she was represented as a quadrupartite of four sisters or as a male counterpart called Tezcatlipoca. As the four sisters and as Tlazolteotl, she/they would seduce or tempt mortals with vice, indulgences, and desires only to then punish them by afflicting them with various diseases, particularly STD's, for indulging in forbidden or adulterous love. Tezcatlipoca (meaning: 'the invisible smoking mirror that sees all') was associated with confession and forgiveness; and was symbolized by an obsidian mirror which was used in divination rituals to reveal the unseen. The mirror represented the reflection of a sinner which revealed all when they confessed their sins to him/her.
While Tlazolteotl would punish adulterers and sinners, she was also responsible for their forgiveness as well. Through a mediating priest, an appropriate penance would be devised based on the sin and the ideal date on which to conduct the purification ceremony. The purification ritual could only be done once in a person's life, so it was usually a practice performed for the elderly.
Tlazolteotl means 'The eater of excrement,' as the way in which she purified sin was by eating the filth or excrement of sinners. This has symbolic connotations; as the word for sin, filth, and ordure were the same in the Aztec language.She is often depicted with feces flowing from her mouth and 'liquid gold' flowing from her eyes.
The festival of Ochpanitzli, or 'sweeping festival' takes place between September 2-21 (it varies due to the different calendar) and honors Tlazolteotl with ritual housecleaning, casting of corn seed (her son was the corn god Cinteotl), dances, and offering of urine to her effigies.
While she may seem distastefully unusual for a deity to our modern sensibilities, her dualistic role was vital for early cultures that had to navigate a world in which germ theory had yet to be developed, and crucial in maintaining harmony within communities where ritualistic warfare and sacrifice were as omnipresent as the gods themselves. While other gods often demanded human or blood sacrifice, Tlazolteotl instead made her own sacrifice through her consumption and purification of sin, to which her adherents revered and respected her for deeply.
'Please sir, spare any Godsblud for an ailing godling? Don't worry, it isn't catching!' The old sprite's eyes ached with humility as he looked up from the guttered alleyway. The surrounding street corner was infested with sickly gnarled branches that grew from his body and held him in place. Gywyn made it a point to not even acknowledge the faé-néant's existence as he walked past.
'Huh? No, sorry I just got distracted a bit. Ugh, I swear Neo-Gangnam gets worse every day. Sometimes I wish those idiots at environmental control would just let a deluge loose on the city and wash all this filth from the streets.' Gywyn's eyes hungrily drooled at a pair of passing Valkyrie's entwined in an amorous side hug. His rubber-necked leer was met with a daggered glare by the more intimidating of the two. Undeterred, he blew them a kiss that was immediately deflected by a singularly raised digit. He responded with a shaka sign held against his ear, mouthing "call me" before turning back with a self-satisfied grin.
'Anyway, I'm about to lose service right now, but I think I've said everything I wanted to say. Please don't make me block you, ok?' Gywyn had no idea someone could hang up that loudly with a cell phone. He breathed a sigh of relief and slicked his hair back before heading down the subway escalator. Gywyn's phone chimed again.
'Hey babe...no, of course I didn't forget what day it is...well it's a surprise!...Yes, I remember that you melted the chocolates I got you last year...ok, so I'll see you when I get home from work?...Alright, I'll try not to be too late. Love youuuu!' Gywyn winked at a voluptuous Arcadion Avatar that stood across from him on the opposite station platform as he hung up, coaxing from her a demure smile. He was already calculating how late he could be before Ivida would start to get heated, and suspicious .
'All aboooard!!!' The station pusher was exceptionally gruff that day, as a mysterious chest from Arcadion had popped out onto the tracks earlier and made the morning commute extra busy. The Oni's half-rimless glasses slid down his nose as he heaved Gywyn and the other passengers into the cramped compartment.
'Ew, watch it creep!'
'Sorry sweetheart, it's just crowded is all!' But Gywyn's grin told another story. The girl rolled her eyes in disgust before morphing into a crane with a puff of mist. While much more agile in that form, the train car was so packed that she couldn't just fly away, and instead hobbled over the other passengers' heads to make her escape.
That's when Gywyn saw her.
Gywyn considered himself an elf of impeccable taste and demeanor, so it wasn't everyday that he found another being so striking. Maybe it had something to do with how oblivious she was to his existence: even in the train's crowded compartment he could faintly hear her heavy metal music bleeding out of her iStones. Her gentle head bob accented her graceful chin and voluptuous neck that draped down across the rest of her impeccable curves. Her grungy attire wasn't exactly his style, but he was more fixated on what she concealed underneath. Gywyn couldn't remember the last time he was so gobsmackingly taken by such a succulent creature. He didn't even notice when he got off the train several stops early just to follow her.
'Excuse me darling, but is your name E.Coli? Because you're making me lose my shit!' Not his best work, but Gywyn brain wasn't exactly getting a copious blood supply. The girl shook off her surprise with a mustered chortle.
'Do you even know who I am, duende?' Gywyn couldn't quite place her accent, but it only furthered his infatuation.
'No, but I know what you are!' Gywyn left it open: It was her move now. He relished the way her eyes looked him over in that moment of pensive silence.
'Follow me.' Gywyn could almost not believe how lucky he was as he followed her out of the station. He was doubly surprised when she stopped in front of a public swipe-stall.
'Ooh, aren't you a dirty girl! Don't worry, I can be nasty!'
'Do you have any protection?'
'Sorry honey, but they stopped making those extra-large Magnus' a while ago! Don't worry though, I got a spell that should keep us safe! You'll barely feel it too!' He smirked.
'Oh yeah, I won't feel it huh?' Her eyebrow arched seductively as she reached passed Gywyn and slid her credstick against the scanner, opening the stall door before shoving him inside.
Once inside the stall Gywyn's nose curled as he drew in closer to the girl. She smelled...ripe, but Gywyn had had worse. Plus, she was ten times foxier than that kitsune he hooked up with the other week. He'd be damned if he didn't add this notch to his belt of conquests.
'So our Q3 projections appear to be on track for the fiscal year, which should help in securing our next round of funding for the current project. We’ve managed to compile a short list of potential investors that, thanks to Gywyn's "research," we should be able to coer-uh, I mean, incentivise into bringing on board. Gywyn, if you would care to elaborate?’ Jora sat back down, crossing two pairs of her eight legs confidently. She knew Gywyn had a knack for delivering, even to intractable clients like the fuming shade and her retinue that sat at the opposite end of the long conference table.
‘Thanks Jora. As you all know, our timetable for developing a luxury high rise in the Five Spirit district has hit a snag as of late, no thanks in part to current rent control ordinances and, you know, spirits; but I have recently uncovered some compromising details about key members of the housing commission that may...motivate them to change their votes at the next development board meeting.’
‘Impressive! I do know how our kind tends to be particularly attached to their haunts, but we will need to see something more tangible before we can commit to dedicating any more resources to this already hemorrhaging endeavor.’ Gywyn was undeterred by the shades unimpressed scowl.
‘Completely understandable. if you can just take a look at the reference dossier under section…’ Gywyn’s stomach erupted with a string of loud burbbling spurts that brought the whole room to an awkward pause.
‘Well? We have an appointment to review a competing offer across town and I will not mar my reputation for punctuality on your account.’ The cloud of dark mist that surrounded the shade thickened with foreboding impatience as her fingers hammered against the Walnut burl.
‘My apologies. If you’ll just- just...will you excuse me for just a moment?’ Gywyn fled the room with a bow-legged hobble, leaving Jora slack-jawed and dumbfounded. Jora turned back to the shade and winced a nervous smile against the increasingly incensed air.
‘I should have known better than to trust fleshies. Biology makes them so unreliable.’
Gywyn gasped as he adjusted his belt and desperately tried to regain his composure. Surely the voluminous evacuation had left his bowels devoid of any further offence. Now he just needed to focus on the meeting and ignore the festering knots that continued to bind at his intestines. He splashed cold water on his face before checking his appearance in the mirror. A little pallid, but he could muscle through. Gywyn ran his hands down his cheeks in hopes to pull some of the weariness away from his eyes, but to his horror his jaw came loose instead. Leaving him with a bloodied maw and lolling tongue covered in blisters.
Gywyn shrieked in disbelief. There was no pain, but his injured vanity contorted his heart enough to momentarily distract him from his churning stomach. He could see in the mirror the girl from the train leaning against the urinal behind him with a bemused smile. Gywyn whirled around. How did she get in here?
‘Gywyn, what’s going on in there!?’ Jora shouted through the bathroom door. Gywyn looked back in the mirror. Still pallid, but his jaw was back in place.
‘Nothing, it’s just...it’s nothing.’
‘Well you better do something! Anything that gets your ass back out here, they are seriously about to walk!’
‘Alright, just-just give me a minute.’ Jora cracked the bathroom door ajar.
‘We don’t have a minute! This is my neck on the line here too!’ Jora hissed. ‘I took a big risk vouching for you and I’ll be damned if one night-ONE STUPID NIGHT!!-is what tanks my career!’ With that, Jora slammed the door shut. Gywyn could hear her scuttle down the hall, frantically trying to do damage control with the departing client.
Alright, you can do this. The worst is over. Now you just need to… before he could finish his thought Gywyn was launched backwards with immense force as a plume of ejecta sprung from his mouth and landed him back on the toilet seat. The surprise and force of the impact caused him to lapse ever so briefly in his control of his fragile puborectalis, but it was enough to unleash the skittering flood. Gywyn could feel the weight of his trousers increase dramatically, along with his dread.
Gywyn ripped off his belt in a futile effort to relieve the pressure, but a seemingly endless supply of hickory butt chutney paired with a perfectly timed technicolor yawn spun him in a horrific pinwheel of offal and chunder.
Ragnarock was but a mild breeze compared to the maelstrom that swirled around Gywyn. He could swear he saw the girl again amidst the blur of his rapid revolutions, but couldn’t bring himself to stop before she disappeared again.
WaSsss iT wOrThhhh iiiT??? It Allll cOmEsssss BaaaCk. Said a voice that seemed to come from nowhere.
What does that mean? Gywyn thought. So far nothing was coming back, just leaving, and with great velocity.
LOoOoOok Innnn tHe MiiiiRrorrrr… sssSeEEE wHaT yOu reEeeelly ArrrEe.
Gywyn expected to see his disfigured illusion again, but as he raised himself above the counter he could only see his normal self, covered in his own indescribable filth.
This is all her fault! I can’t believe she did this to me! I was perfectly healthy before I met her!
‘Welp, they’re gone, and so are you! Pack up your desk Gywyn, this-’ Jora froze at the door as she gagged at the wall of stench that struck her squarely in the nostrils. ‘Actually, nevermind: SECURITY!!! Please escort this walking turd pile out of my sight, and page Ivor and let him know to bring the Zorbant Green and some heavy mithril gloves to the 8th floor bathroom immediately!
The Security Valkyrie marched into the bathroom without an ounce of hesitation and seized Gywyn by the shoulders with an impressively firm grip. He almost had to admire her professionalism as she dragged him off.
Even as he hung his head down, Gywyn could scarcely bring his eyes up to meet the cold stare of the office domovi that stood outside the bathroom as the Valkyrie hauled him away. Tittering murmurs and jeers peppered the hushed office as he soggily slogged between the rows of desks and computers that now seemed to go on endlessly to draw out his humiliation.
‘Hit...the..road!’ The Valkyrie hurled Gywyn into the trash strewn alleyway, careful to keep her hands from touching anything else as she slammed the heavy metal door closed. Even the dora fled from his putrid presence.
I’m ruined! I can’t go home like this! What am I going to do now?
The next few hours were a blur, if they were even hours at all. Gywyn was not quite sure. His head felt like it was about to burst with a boiling fever that kept sending him back and forth between lucidity. The city seemed to fall away chaotically into unfamiliar patches of deserted alleys and crowded venues. Hazy vestiges of its passing denizens seemed to whisper incoherently for the expressed purpose of feeding his paranoia and mental decay.
At some point he collapsed into a shallow puddle the pooled in a dark alley. As he looked at his reflection he could see that a plethora of lesions had crept across his lips and leaked sickening pus down his chin. He struck at the puddle’s surface to give himself but a moment's respite from the harsh reality, but the wavering ripples resiliently returned his backscatter to the forefront before his vision started to fade into darkness. As the edges of his vision slowly deteriorated, he swore he saw the girl behind him once again.
The rush of the unhindered winds blew at Gywyns back as he found himself standing on edge of the red cliffs that stood sentinel outside the city proper. He wasn't exactly sure how he got there, but he could feel the pulse of the tumultuous wind beckoning him forward.
IIIIISsSs ThIssSs WhaAAt yOoUuu ReEeAaLlLYYy wAaAnT??
‘WHAT OTHER CHOICE DO I HAVE!?!’ Gywyn shouted to the nothingness.
ThHeERrrrssSs aAllllWaaAayyYSSsSss aAAaa ChOoIIIIiiCeE...
The earth rumbled as a fiery fissure tore open behind Gywyn. A molten arm reached out from below as Ivida pulled herself out from the crevice.
‘Gywyn? Gywyn! What are you doing here?’
‘Ivida! How… how did you find me?’ She pulled out her phone which revealed his pin from the map app.
‘You didn’t come home...I was worried sick!’
‘You shouldn’t have. I..I..don’t deserve you.’
‘What are you talking about Gywyn? Please! Get away from there, you’re scaring me!’
‘You don’t know… You don’t know what I've done...who I really am...if you knew...you wouldn’t… you shouldn’t be here!’
‘Don’t tell me how to feel! You always do that! Please… just...tell me what's going on!’
‘I...don’t even know where to begin…’
TeELlLL hErRrR tHeEe tRuuUuUUthhh.
Gywyn could see the girl standing next to him in the corner of his eye, even though he knew she really wasn’t there.
‘I...I’ve made some mistakes...lots of mistakes...big mistakes... and I don’t think there is any way of coming back.’
YoOoOuUuuu CaaNnn’Ttt GooOo BaaAacKkK...
BuUT YoOOouuUU cAAnn aALwwWAaaas GooOo
‘I have to tell you something too…I...I haven’t been completely perfect either.’ Somehow that seemed to snap Gywyn back from his delirium. As his eyes regained focus he could see Ivida was nursing a ruddy ruby canker that sprouted from the corner of her lip. ‘It was a just a moment of weakness… he meant nothing, it was just… just some guy with a stupid floppy hat. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I...I was worried you wouldn’t want me anymore.’ Ivida’s tears simmered as they streamed down her cheeks.
‘Oh honey no...I don’t care about that.’ Gywyn stepped away from the cliff's edge and pulled Ivida into his arms. ‘Let’s start over. We can work together this time, keep each other honest, right?’ Ivida nodded as she pulled Gywyns head into her chest in a giantess embrace.
YyoOOoUUuu GetTtt OoNNeeE cHaaAanNCcceee.
MaAaAKkEeEE sSSsSUuUurREE yYoOoUuu
At that moment both of their phones chimed in unison. They both looked down quizzically. How could they get service out here? Neither of them had notifications turned on, but somehow they both got a ping about a new video that was trending on ViewTube. As they both hunched over the screen, a video began to play from an embedded point somewhere in the middle.
‘...a growing health concern regarding a mysterious virus that has exploded throughout the city this Valentines day. Researchers from Magpyre’s medical division have fast-tracked a viral suppressant that has proven effective in combating the symptoms of the disease. Rumored to be a chemical combination of Poxicillin, Blightlynol, Yanafedrin and other proprietary components; the new wonder drug is already being made available without a prescription at pharmacies across Neo-Gangnam. City officials still have made no official statement regarding the or-’
‘What do you say? Let’s get home and see about getting better?’
‘I think I’d like that.’ The malignant effluvium that had permeated the air around them seemed to dissipate with the calming wind. Already Gywyn could feel like an immense weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and even almost felt a little bit lighter with Ivida by his side.
As they made their way back to the city, every once in awhile Gywyn thought he could catch a whiff of that familiar malodor that seemed to adhere to his upper lip. While unpleasant, Gywyn appreciated the humble reminder, and hoped that it never completely went away.
‘Welcome!’ the hotel barkeep exclaimed as he set a bowl of fresh hot ramen in front of Bob.
‘Why do you always say that keep? I’ve been here the whole time!’
‘Well I am an NPC, they