Iric passed slowly through the Shrine of the Old Gods, gripped by a solemn mood. He had not stepped into the place since the earliest memories of his youth, but somehow it looked the same as he remembered, quiet and mystical.
The place was not a singular shrine, but a house of many, which were spread out in regular intervals around the edges of the large, circular room. At the center was a resting place for parishioners, with cushions and seats laid out haphazardly on the floor, under the beams of sunlight the came in through the circle glass ceiling directly above.
Iric knew where he was headed—to the small shrine of Darmin—and he moved their steadily, dodging around people as he went. Today the large chamber was mostly empty. This was perhaps due to it being the middle of the month, Iric presumed.
He was visiting the shrine of Darmin today at the request of a young girl named Edyt. Darmin was a god of Kingston, that northern city that was still dominated by the kings and nobles of old. Like Iric’s family, Edyt and her parents had come to Marudal seeking prosperity, hoping to raise themselves up in the “city of equality.” Iric knew from his own experience that such hopes were not so easy to achieve.
Iric slowly approached the shrine of Darmin, the stag god of nature, patron of the kings of Kingston. And the small structure did have an appropriately natural aesthetic.The back of the shrine was arranged to appear like the antlers of a great deer, with pieces of antler, bone, and other natural appendages jutting out in chaotic directions. At its center was a bed of fresh leaves and a bowl filled with what Iric presumed to be blood. There was an older couple praying in front of him. He waited for them to finish.
He tried to remember how his mother had acted when she visited the shrine in his childhood. There was a certain ceremony to it—a bow, some quiet words, moments of silence. He couldn’t remember the words, he couldn’t remember much except the silence, and the blood. That must be the key; blood was the magic of nature, was it not?
He removed the copper pin from his pocket. It belonged to young Edyt’s sister, who was suffering from a threatening illness. Edyt had asked Iric—a watchman and servant of the people—to ask for Darmin’s blessing, since she could not go herself. Iric had accepted the quest out of a sense of duty to help. He was not a healer, but this little bit he could do.
But what was it he should do? Iric hadn’t a clue. He stared again at the shrine, hoping for some answer to spring forth. Nothing came. The older couple left quietly, with soft smiles on their faces, leaving Iric alone in the silence of the hall.
“I don’t know what I am supposed to do…” he said to the air. “I am here to seek your blessing…great Darmin. There is a girl who is very sick. Lora is her name, sister to Edyt, who sheds tears of worry every night for her helpless sibling. Hard has been the life of these children, in a new place and without a mother. I know it is selfish to ask you to help one person, but if anyone deserves such aid, it is her.”
Iric paused his prayer for a moment, feeling foolish. What were the chances that there was a god listening to him right now? And even if that were the case, why would he care about a sick girl living in the very town that had cast the gods aside?
The young watchman felt out of his element here. Physical dangers he could deal with; such encounters were generally straight forward. But disease and spiritualism, those were invisible mysteries.
“I don’t know what to do…” he said with a sorrowful sigh.
Then he saw the blood bubble. It wasn’t a dramatic movement, not like a boiling pot, but something had happened. He could smell the copper saltiness of it in air. Not knowing what else to do, he dipped Lora’s copper pin into the blood, letting the red liquid cover it thickly. He wiped the excess off on his pants and saw that a visible red stain remained. Respectfully, he took a large leaf from Darmin’s shrine and used it to wrap the pin before returning it to his pocket.
Then he left the Shrine of the Old Gods and made his way back to Edyt and Lora’s house, hoping his quest had been a success.
*Previous volumes of “The Adventures of Iric” can be found here: