[AW] caesar's palace
Quote:Priest I Prompt: Make an offering to your chosen deity. Remember, different gods expect different things from their followers.

Not every sacrifice was a tangible, touchable thing. He liked to chalk this up to his Goddess accepting all forms of tithe — but, really, it was just that Rand didn't like to spend every morning of his wretched life weaving together reed dolls and floating shrines. Much as it was a mindless task for him nowadays, shockingly, the dog didn't like to have sore fingers every waking moment. Who knew.

He was by the bank of the winding river that emptied into the sea; the Sword Coast, he had heard it called. Truly, the ocean was a strange place for Rand, and he much preferred the more manageable size of a stream than the vastness of the salty waters. He felt there was a natural limit to how much of Nín he could handle at any given time. His communion with Her in the unending sea would wait another day.

His long fingers swirled shapeless circles in the gurgling stream, its coolness calming him as he offered forth those familiar words. She knew them well, for they had been Her favorite: Rand fancied himself an impeccable wordsmith with his Lady of the Water being his highest muse. So long as he told himself this, She was sure to believe it, as well.

"Reed-Whisperer... Depths-Devourer... Lady of Bog and Mire... Hear me, now. Bless us through these shimmering waters, that we may be made whole again... "

Gods knew that these shallow excuses for Caledonians needed it. So often now Rand found himself praying over their lost souls rather than his, and so often still did it seem these prayers returned empty. Were they truly beyond saving, he wondered? That wouldn't have come as a surprise. There was only so much that King could do for them if they were truly lost.

But to expect a man from Aegas to do much of anything was already such a stretch.
[+3] AW for one! rand is doing his holy bullshit again, so why not have your character interrupt him? ;>
It was by their father's suggestion that the girls found themselves walking along the Sword Coast, in search of materials related to their respective crafts. While Ingvildr scanned the beach's tawny surface for feathers to fletch arrows with, Sólveig had eyes only for vegetation to collect and compare with those hidden away in her mother's old apothecary book. Focused on their tasks, the sisters walked in companionable silence with only the occasional word from one to point out a discovery that the other was looking for.

Sometimes, on other days when Sóli was out foraging, it seemed to her as though she could find everything except for what she wanted to find. She thought of this now as she walked, her toes sinking into the coarse sand as she stepped slowly forwards. She had collected a few interesting specimens to bring home and cross-reference, but nothing that she was really excited about. But it wasn't fair to compare those others times to this one, she decided. There really wasn't much vegetation to find on a beach.

Or many feathers either, for that matter.

"This is dumb," Inga complained. "There's nothing here! Except for, like, shells."

"Lots of shells."

"So many shells!"

After sharing a grin, the girls decided to call it quits and picked their way up from the coast to follow the river back towards the City Square. That was when they caught sight of the man near the river's edge, his voice only a mumble to their ears.

"Hello," Inga said first.

"Hi," Sóli added, her eyes on his face. Some might see the scars that warped the flesh along his chin and think his face grotesque, but she only found herself wondering what had happened. "Are you fishing?"

"And were you talking to someone?" Inga asked right afterwards.

OOC: Interruptions, you say? >:D
[WC -- 312]
"I am Your vessel, my Goddess," he implored with growing fervor, his hands spinning faster and faster circles in the stream. Where Nín's wishes and decrees ended and where Rand's began was about as murky as the depths of that horrid Lochan Glas, but he was blissfully ignorant of this.

"Anything You will shall be done; give me Your blessing and I will bring this entire Kingdom to Your healing waters if I must. They are lost. Let me lead them for You — "

He turned too quickly at the youthful voices, and his retreating hand sent a splash of water across the ground.

Who were they? Barely older than children, he could see very clearly, and that was their only saving grace. Had these been real adults, Rand wouldn't have spared them. But children... Now those, those were malleable.

So She had been listening, after all.

The Lorn man rose to his full height, forcing a full smile at these little intruders. "Hello," he returned steadily, his hand still dripping water at his side, and he let his eyes widen in faux surprise. "Fishing? Oh, no-no, not at all. Talking, yes, you could say that."

Gesturing loosely to the water, he rose an eyebrow at the girls. "Don't you know of the River Goddess? Surely your parents would have told you," he said, but they had the look Rand had come to despise; the look of someone who hadn't hailed from the old Kingdom.

No matter. Their blood was a curse they would always carry, but the young could still be instrumental for his Lady.

"I am Rand," he introduced with the usual flairs, his smile sneering, "and I am willing to forgive your intrusion to my prayers, but my Lady Nín might not be so understanding..."

He knelt again at the stream's edge, beckoning over the young ones. "Come, then. You both must apologize to Her, and quickly. You wouldn't want Nín to curse you before your lives have really begun, would you?"

To him, all of this seemed very natural and warranted. It was simply the order of things, and children were more willing to accept these occult rites as gospel than adults that had already formed their own opinions.
[+3] !! CHILDREN thank you for joining! ;D
They had startled him, Sóli felt sure of it, and she instinctively offered an apology by way of a low-wagging tail and flattened ears. Inga, though, either didn't reach the same conclusion or didn't care to preemptively mollify the scarred man. She was like that sometimes -- defiant and rebellious and self-assured -- and Sólveig admired it, even when it put them at odds.

Both girls scanned their surroundings for the recipient of the man's words but, animated by the wind's balmy breath, only the leaves and the grass and the tall river reeds waved back.

"Who were talking to?" Ingvildr asked instead, returning her gaze to the wolfdog with a quizzical frown.

Sólveig glanced upwards in thought at the mention of the River Goddess. It sounded familiar, but... "Isn't that one of the gods?" she asked slowly. Her head bobbed up and down emphatically as her confidence built. "Yeah! 'Cause there's the Forest God and the Mountain God and the Sky Gods. The River Goddess is the last one." She said it as though she was remembering some interesting piece of trivia that she had once been told, but had never bothered to invest more time in learning further.

"But those are different than the ones Mom believed in," Inga added, and Sólveig nodded agreeably, remembering the stories that their father had told them about their mother's beliefs.

"Like Thor," she added. To the blue dog, she asked, "Do you know about Thor?"

But Sóli's confidence wavered again when Rand all but admitted what she had feared (maybe they hadn't startled him, but they had disrupted something) and suggested that the River Goddess herself might not be so forgiving as he was. And when he encouraged them to apologize, lest they be cursed, she felt her mouth go dry. Although they enjoyed swimming and splashing through the waters, the River Valley was not an especially common haunt of theirs. What if they had already been cursed?

"But we didn't do anything," Inga protested softly when Sóli grabbed her wrist and pulled her towards the riverbank with her.

"We're sorry, Lady Nín. We didn't mean to interrupt Mister Rand's prayers. Please forgive us," the Dawnrunner said while, next to her, Ingvildr murmured her own apology.

Then, turning her head, Inga looked at Rand's scarred face with doubt. "Why would she curse us over a mistake?"

OOC: oh man Rand is delightfully creepy c:<
[WC -- 416]
They were a talkative pair, even in spite of the apologetic look the reddish one wore when she obviously understood she had made a mistake in interrupting him; and they even knew of the gods, which was more than he had given them credit for. No names, only their designations, but really, there was only one Goddess among them that they needed to know. The rest were rather unimportant, but still important enough to matter more than any made up spirits or mantras outside of his own.

"Thor?" he repeated, as if it were a joke. "My gods are the only ones I follow, I'm afraid. Perhaps that's just a different name for one of mine. They go by many different names and faces in different cultures, but they all lead back to the Caledonian deities."

Never mind if this was factually incorrect. He doggedly believed in it and no one would ever tell him otherwise, much less these children.

The priest took a certain pleasure in their rushed apologies, and he didn't hide his smirk, all teeth and fangs. "Oh, my dear," he cooed, casting a rueful glance to the darker girl. They would make fine women one day, Rand thought crassly. "She has cursed far better men for far less."

He let his fingers gently brush the surface of the cooling waters again, sighing at its familiar touch. "Though I think She has been sated, for now. My Goddess treasures Her due respect, above all." As did Her loyal, unwavering servant.
[+2]  Regdevious
Scrunched, and with eyes lifted skyward, Sólveig's expression was of one exploring her thoughts. Could Thor be one of Rand's gods by a different name? That hadn't crossed her mind before. Why would the same god be called something else if it wasn't different? And Thor... he didn't look over rivers or forests or mountains or sky or any of that stuff. No, nothing that she knew about her mother's god matched what little she knew of the Caledonian deities.

"Mm," she hummed, shaking her head. "I don't think so. Thor is the god of thunder and storms and stuff," she continued brightly, giving her tail a lazy wag.

"Yeah, and why would a god do that, anyway?" Ingvildr wondered skeptically. "Go by different names and faces and whatever? That sounds sneaky."

Sóli gave a little gasp, a sudden revelation bringing her hands to her mouth. "Inga! Remember Loki?" Ingvildr narrowed her eyes, thinking back, and nodded slowly. "Loki is a trickster god," she explained to Rand. "He can disguise himself and everything!"

"Yeah! Maybe your gods are just Loki playing tricks on people."

With their very limited knowledge and experience in spirituality, it seemed both logical and reasonable to conclude that Loki the Trickster was behind something so confusing.

Kneeling at the edge of the river, their sharp knees making dimples in the soft earth, Sólveig opened her eyes after her apology was complete and watched as the gentle current carried away a small golden leaf. Beneath the clear water, atop the river stones that slept in the silt, a wraith of emerald moss caught her eye. It swayed there like a imprisoned ghost, trapped forever by the tireless current of the river that was a goddess.

Blinking away her thoughts, Sóli broke free of the river's spell just in time to nudge her sister with an elbow to keep her from arguing.

"How do you show the River Goddess respect, Mister Rand?" she asked, shifting her weight off of her knees to assume a more comfortable position.

[WC -- 351]
Oh, how little they really knew of the world. The pair posed a real threat to his claims, but it was a doubt he had heard from outsiders before. The twist of them raising the possibility of a trickster god being behind all of it was a bit unexpected, no less heretical, but he addressed it the same way he always had.


"Oh, I don't think so," he chuckled, but it was humorless and flat, if not a tad irate. "There are no gods but my own, little ones. They take many forms to fit all cultures. That truly is the essence of it."

If they did not understand it now, perhaps they would when they grew up and gained half a brain. But for now, Rand would be beside himself, reiterating himself, sighing to himself.

The reddish girl, despite their shared skepticism, still seemed interested enough to ask more questions. At this, he chuffed, clearly pleased to oblige.

"There are many ways. Sometimes we present Her with offerings, things of nature, floating shrines. Other times we simply speak to Her and raise our concerns and praises in the form of prayer. That," he cut his eyes to her sharply, "was what I had been doing."

Rand hummed thoughtfully. "Nín protects this Realms waterways and streams; you both would do well to heed them and pay the life-giving currents the respect they deserve. Don't you agree?"
[+2]  Regdevious
Their suggestion about the origin of Rand's gods carried no malicious intent, though something in the sound of his empty chuckle gave Sólveig pause. Youth -- a time when no question was off limits, forming friendship was as easy as breathing, and forgiveness was often and innate -- granted them the ability to cross social boundaries and break down proverbial walls. But adolescence was fast approaching, and with it came a sense of identity and a better understanding of the world.

Perhaps it was for this reason that the girls only exchanged looks and sealed their lips. What good was speaking up anyway, when the priest's statement was so all-encompassing? How could they argue against that?

In contrast to her pale sister, Ingvildr remained squatting where she'd been pulled down to the river's edge. While Rand spoke, going on and on about the exhaustive ways he praised his River Goddess, Inga shifted restlessly and began flicking the fur of Sólveig's tail. She seemed to find an invitation to wrap up their little conversation in Rand's sharp reminder of their interruption.

"Maybe we should let you get back to that then," Inga suggested, giving her sister's tail a furtive tug. "Right, Sóli?"

Sólveig spun around at the firm tug, glowering into her sister's face until she understood what Inga was playing at. She looked back at Rand. "Yeah," she said, smiling submissively. "We can let you return to your prayers, Mister Rand." She thumped her tail against the soft emerald grass. "And yes, we agree. Don't we, Inga?"

"Yup! We agree!"

They both stood, brushing dirt from their fur and making sure they had all of their measly treasures. "Thank you for the lesson, Mister Rand," Sólveig said politely while her sister skittered off, giving him one last swish of her tail before hurrying after Inga towards home.

OOC: Figured we could probably wrap this up since I'm running out of things for the girls to say and Rand has achieved Priest I status. :D
[WC -- 320]

Forum Jump: