#4 Lórric and the Gods
Happy to announce the land of Nariv with today's update! Welcome to endless fields of grass, plains and valleys, home to the most peaceful race in Alor: the Narivii. New beautiful illustrations, music, characters and lore are now up on the site. Feel free to have a look at everything here!
I'm also excited to announce that the first tale is now illustrated. Meet Samsieg Seragast once again and re-live his terrible fate in The Hero of Flames.
The storyteller's misadventures continue below with yet another tale: Lórric and the Gods, illustrated by Lauma Sliņķe and written by Maira Galabard!
The harbour, at last.
Pespika is a city far up north in Vasrna, and what it lacks in beauty it excels in food and transport. All I can think of is getting out of the desert and find some peace. After all, I’ve been living here for a good fifteen years already. Time to move on.
That bard, Aiga, is still following me around. Taya, the merchant, left without ever saying good-bye. One would hope that a ten-day journey would bring people closer.
“When’s the next ship to Alenael?”, the bard asks one of the Vasrnarii tending the ships. His eyes dart up at the sound of her voice.
That’s just the ship I was about to ask for.
“Alenael is closed. Barbarians raided it”, he tells her. “But the tevtäeræ over there are headed to Lunariga.”
“Tevtäeræ?”, Aiga repeats.
“Temple monks”, the Vasrnari clarifies. If it wasn’t because our faces are made of bone, I’m certain her embarrassment would’ve shown. After all, tevtäeræ are all over the world serving one deity or another.
He points in the direction of gray-clothed folk, their peculiar hoods covering different parts of their faces, their deer ears sticking out of the openings at the sides of the hoods. They’re about to board a large vessel.
“Great! Monks!”, Aiga the bard exclaims. She adores a crowd, any kind of crowd, and I can tell her mind is already stirring with a new tune.
They offer us flat bread and water, a Narivian custom I’ll never get used to, and they welcome us to their group. I hardly have enough coin to pay for my fee, but I manage to scrape a few cents off Aiga, who has hidden a surprisingly large amount of ræ in her hat. A horn blows, and so we depart. To Nariv. To peace and solitude. Perhaps I’ll stay there for a decade or two, however long the gods want me there.
It’s a long time since I’d been on a ship. The waves at this time of the year are anything but soothing, so we’re sent to the sleeping quarters below the dock. The tevtäeræ are too afraid to fall asleep and are constantly whispering prayers to whichever god is willing to listen. Narivii are, after all, people who’d rather keep their feet on solid ground.
Aiga looks at me inquisitively. Yes, I know what you intend to do, and no, an improvised song about the perils of the sea will not help these people.
“May I entertain you with a story?”, I suggest before the bard opens her mouth. They look at each other, then back at me, and nod eagerly.
“Something simple”, one says.
“And peaceful”, the second one adds.
“With no conflict”, a third one requests.
I clear my throat a few times and improvise a simple, peaceful and non-conflictive story.
Lórric and the Gods
A long time ago there lived a farmer in Nariv named Lórric. He worked every day regardless of the weather, and tended the crops and cattle in his farm lovingly.
Lórric was also a very pious man. He would pray day and night, bring offerings to the countless shrines, visit the temples, and go to the graveyards once a week.
On Arzosë, the first day of the week, Lórric would ask the god of knowledge to grant him wisdom to organise his time better, and so god Arzos did. The Narivi organised his time so well that he even had some to spare and have a quiet moment to write at the end of the day.
Like many others, on Miraisë he would pray to the goddess of love for guidance in matters of the heart. Being more understanding of those working under him, forgiving those who had wronged him, caring better for the cattle and the crops. And so, he hoped goddess Mirai would lend him the strength.
It was only on Liranjsë that he would tempt his luck while hushing a prayer to the goddess of fortune, perhaps making a small investment on a new Oiruuvian tool or haggling at the local market, so that goddess Liranj would bless each and every single one of his transactions.
The one day of the week he had a rest, Nuesë, he would go to the graveyards and contemplate the bone masks of those who no longer were with them. It was a day for thought, reflection, renewal, and praying for a painless death at the age of a hundred-and-fifty, which he was sure god Nue would grant.
There was also a day for duty, Firnsë, when he could be found late in the afternoon repairing roads, roofs and carts, mending clothes and serving food and water at the local temple. Lórric dared not ask anything from god Firn, except to protect him from harm.
On Cernesusë, however, he would go to many different temples and shrines. Minor deities, new deities, gods and goddesses of the earth and the skies, spirits of nature and the souls of his ancestors, they all had a place in Nariv. He would make small promises and ask for small favours in return. The god of chaos had his own temples time ago, but none of them was standing anymore.
It was on Myrsë and Rynsë, the last two days of the week, that he would pray for new beginnings and new endings.
One day, he wished for an adventure. Not any big adventure, of course. Perhaps a half-a-day adventure. Or, he daringly thought, a one-day adventure.
Lórric’s prayers were soon answered. Within a fortnight, he received a message with an invitation to the local theatre.
The theatre!, he thought. His heart beat fast with thrill. He had never been invited to the theatre, for he had barely had a free day in his life. The play was in a week’s time on a Myrsë, the day of beginnings.
The farmer ran to his workers and announced the news. Everyone cheered and congratulated him. Surely it was from someone who appreciated his hard work the past thirty years. Perhaps a grateful customer or a generous supplier. Or someone from one of the temples, even. But that mattered little to Lórric, for he was convinced that whomever had invited him had noble reasons.
When the day arrived, he put on his finest clothes, hung his solar compass and his sickle on the wall, combed his hair and even dared to use a drop or two of lavender oil. He even put on a hat for the occasion, and a short cloak.
A day off. And to the theatre, nonetheless! He walked merrily down the streets as other Narivii greeted him with a smile, surprised that he wasn’t working on the fields that day. He greeted them back, wondering if he should have taken an elegant walking stick, or perhaps pinned a flower on his chest. Ah, but it was too late now.
He saw the theatre, tall, majestic, erected in beautiful triangular shapes with roofs of grass and flowers. There was a long queue, but little did he mind the wait. He had an invitation, after all, and had come two hours in advance. Plenty of time to admire the architecture, the folk, its surroundings. So, he thought, that was what people did when they were not working or praying.
He couldn’t suppress a smile as he realised he was already the next in line. He looked around, waving at whoever stared at him longer than a second, expecting his mysterious benefactor to approach him out of the crowd.
His heart beat faster as he heard the word “Next” and stepped forward. He had observed every single person before him interact with the invitation taker and the usher, and knew exactly what to do.
He extended his invitation to the Narivi in charge, happily announced his own name, and politely waited for him to examine the elegant piece of parchment.
Lórric smiled as he opened his hand to take the invitation back, but the collector grimaced and asked him to repeat the name.
“Lórric”, he repeated with confidence.
“Not Iórric?”, the collecter insisted.
“Oh, no. This was a personal invitation, you see”, Lórric explained.
“There must have been some sort of mistake”, an osvari behind him said. “I am Iórric.”
Lórric was made to step back as the invitation collector apologised to the man named Iórric profusely. Of course it was a mistake, Lórric thought. Who would have invited him, a farmer, to the local theatre?
No. He had to step in. The message had arrived to his farm, after all.
“Excuse me”, Lórric began. “Excuse me”, he repeated to quieten the trembling in his voice, “but, the invitation was delivered to my farm.”
The man named Iórric turned to him, and so did the invitation collector, the usher and the people in the queue. It was Iórric the one to reply.
“That’s what happens when the messenger doesn’t know the area, and when you, Lórric, are so absorbed in your work and faiths that you don’t even know your own neighbour.”
As the queue continued to advance, Lórric felt his heart sink into a river of sadness. It was at that very moment that he realised how much he had secretly hoped to be rewarded for what he had been doing for the past thirty years, how much he had desired to leave his responsibilities and duties for a day, how complex his requests to the gods had been, while the only thing he needed was a day off.
One week later, he returned to the theatre to watch the play. And the next, and the one after, and many, many more in the company of workers, neighbours and friends.
Lórric became one of the most generous patrons in all of Nariv, as well as one of its most kind-hearted and pious souls, thanking the gods for having opened his eyes and encouraging others to dare to take a single day off in their lives.
He died at the happy age of a hundred-and-fifty.
“That was a story about the days of the week”, one of the tevtäeræ scoffs. He looks visibly irritated, despite the reputation Narivii have of being the most peaceful people on the world of Alor.
“Exactly. We all know our prayers, we all know the major gods”, the second tevtäera agrees. “The gods simply gave Lórric what he wished for.”
“Indeed”, corroborated the third. “God Arzos knows what is best for each and every single one of us.”
The other tevtäeræ stare at him, and there’s a tense silence I dare not break. Aiga glances in my direction.
“God Arzos? You mean goddess Mirai in Her boundless mercy.”
“I am certain you meant god Firn’s reward for his hard work and piety.”
As the tevtäeræ argue, I crawl to a corner and pretend to be fast asleep. The bard knows I’m not, but covers for me and makes conversation with the angered tevtäeræ.
“You did this on purpose”, Aiga mumbles a good while after the tevtäeræ have fallen asleep after agreeing to disagree.
“Of course not”, I retort without turning around. “I simply gave them something different to think about.”
It takes us several days to reach Lunariga but, at long last, our feet step on solid land. Grass. A cool soft breeze. Short and amicable deer-eared folk. Nariv, finally. How I’ve missed it. I never realised much I longed to return until this very moment.
My thoughts are very soon interrupted by the bard.
“Are you going to Nárima?”, she asks.
“In time, perhaps”, is all I reply. I’m not headed to the capital of Nariv. Not yet, at least. Maybe in a couple of years, when I’m tired of the peace and the quiet.
“Where are you going?”, she insists. The tevtäeræ are already headed to wherever their gods may take them.
“Asterle. You’ll hate it there. People turn into beasts every full moon.”
Oh, no. I’m starting to recognise that shine in Aiga’s eye every time she thinks she’ll find inspiration somewhere.
“May I accompany you?”
“I said people turn into beasts”, I insist. “Nárima is where you should go if you want to succeed as a bard. Trust me on this one.”
“If it’s dangerous, why are you going there?”
She’s very persistant. I sense she hasn’t learned to travel alone yet. Youth these days...
“I have… an old friend there”, I give in. Aiga is almost begging without uttering a word. “Very well, you can tag along if so you wish, but I warned you.”
The bard looks excited at the prospect of going to a potentially dangerous place for some reason. Perhaps she finds the whole idea of folk turning into beasts entertaining enough to turn it into a new song.
It’s a long road to Asterle, but I hope we’ll make it there before the full moon.