Wind of Din

Wind of DinDuring Theft of a God (Great War 1):

     Greta straightened her stance as she faced an old, weathered tree. The dying tree stood unbalanced, half living with red, gold and brown hues, while the rest was dead, peeling bark. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and looked within to find her center.

     Lightly touching the core of essence inside, she chanted the spell words. She focused on the stark and dreary branches. Buds poking from the stiff limbs trembled, then several sprouted into green leaves full of the spring’s promise. Greta opened her eyes and smiled as she held on to her center and kept the magic flowing. It worked! She delighted in such a rare and wonderful thing, to succeed on the first try. She felt the sap pulsing into the dead areas, repairing the damage of many seasons.

     The breeze picked up in intensity and snatched at papers under a rock. The wind won the war and ripped the pages free, fluttering them about like gigantic snowflakes in winter. This interruption couldn’t erode Greta’s happiness. She laughed as she dashed about trying to catch them. Losing her notes was a rather common occurrence.

     Greta sat under the tree, picked up a book from the stack beside her, and read. Something knocked her out of her concentration. She heard it again.

     “Greta!” a voice shouted.

     She looked up from Contemplation of Advanced Foundation Spells as wind tore through the trees and dark clouds closed in on the blue sky. Greta turned toward the voice.

     “I’m here!”

     Temple bells rang out. Was the ringing a warning about the coming storm? Greta didn’t know of such a thing happening before. The fierce wind stung her eyes. Tears rolled down her face.

     Adalia ran up, clutching flapping robes, and helped gather the books. “I knew I’d find you out here. Something big has happened. Everyone’s meeting in the Assembly Hall!”

     “What is it?”

     “Nobody knows. It has something to do with the Gods.”

     Greta stuffed papers inside her robe and picked up the rest of the books. She followed Adalia inside the Holy Temple of Din.

     “Practicing advanced spells without supervision again?”

     “Who me?” Greta’s eyes opened larger as Adalia looked at her friend over her shoulder, smiling. “I never attempt dangerous spells without supervision.”

     “Yeah, but you don’t think any spells are dangerous.”

     “That’s not true. Just the other day I begged and pestered our teacher into watching me perform Smite. It goes to show, persistence pays off.”

     The packed Assembly Hall wasn’t meant for all of the students and staff at once. Adalia and Greta set the books down in the hallway before entering through the heavy oak doors. At the other end of the room, House Leader Priestess Bernadette stood on a table. As she spoke, the worried whispers ceased, leaving only the sound of her voice and the raging wind.

     “Something terrible has transpired. We’re still getting the details from the diviners. Something’s happened in the Barbarian City of Drasill. Everyone remain calm. We’re waiting for orders to meet this emergency from…”

     Lead Priestess Orlantha burst through the doors.

     “Ah, here she is now.”

     The women parted to make room for Orlantha to pass. After Bernadette lent Orlantha a hand, helping her up onto the table, Orlantha faced the crowd, her expression grim.

     “Priestesses of Din, I bring you terrible news! Din’s son, the God Dorr, has been kidnapped!”

     The hall filled with gasps, shrieks, and then silence. Bernadette’s eyes rolled back as her limp body fell onto the table with a thump. The women nearby caught her before she rolled off onto the floor, and then they pushed her back upon the table. Orlantha glanced down and then resumed speaking.

     “This is no time to panic. You must steel yourselves for the work ahead. Din needs us more than ever, and we won’t let him down!

     “The wind is too strong to perform the Meditation of Praise outside, so we must do it along the outer walls from the inside. Houses one through eight will perform this task. Houses nine through twelve will repeat the Magnification of Power spell in the four towers, but first, four of you near the door, go light the candles in the Chamber of Worship and the Offering Sanctum. Go!”

     The priestesses quickly shuffled through the doorway, emptying the room and rushing to their assignments. Adalia and Greta were the first out.

     Greta turned to two girls in Last Year. “You two take the Chamber of Worship; Adalia and I will light the candles in the Offering Sanctum.”

     Adalia and Greta ran down the hallway and into the Offering Sanctum. Down the middle of the room, a red carpet led to a giant marble statue of the god in a golden cape and a bronze spear in hand. He gazed out into the tall chamber. Looking up at its face from its feet gave the sense of smallness, as if in the presence of the god himself. Candles lined the walls on both sides of the carpet.

     Adalia already lit candles along her row.

     We need to hurry and join in the Magnification spell.”

     “I know,” Greta replied.

     Greta grabbed a lighting stick and placed it in the brazier by the door. She touched the candlewicks with the lighted stick, working her way toward the statue. Greta, surprised to find herself shaky, banished what happened from her mind. It was too unbelievable. She feared that if she thought about a god being stolen, that she would fail in her duties, fail to help at the most critical time. She only thought as far as the next candle. It kept her moving. Adalia finished first.

     “See you in the north tower,” she yelled as she ran out the door. It swung closed behind her, clattering in the frame.

     Greta lit the next candle, then the next. Nearing the statue, with only a few more candles left, she felt trepidation sink into her core. Her hand shook as it held the lighting stick to another wick, but this time, not from shock. The temperature had dropped, and she was freezing. Her breath clouded and hovered in front of her mouth. Wind swept through the room from the closed doors to the statue, extinguishing all of the candles and the lighting stick. The silence tingled. Smoke drifted upward from the spent candles. Without candle flame, the room darkened, then the area around the statue lightened.

     “Din,” whispered Greta. She stepped to the base of the statue.

     From high above, a gleaming light fluttered down in gentle twists and turns like a feather. Greta reached up to touch it and caught a small yellow gem, warm to the touch. The wind howled, and this time it carried a voice.

     “Find him,” Din commanded.

     She held the gem in her closed hand and dropped to her knees. Waiting in awe, Greta looked up at the God. Would more be said? The gem still felt warm. She opened her hand again to make sure this was real, not just some dream or illusion. As she turned it over, the glow faded. The gem sparkled in the reflected light from the high windows above.  It was real. She closed her fingers and held it to her chest.

     “I am chosen.”

     Adrenaline burned painfully in her legs as she ran to the door. Before she pressed on the handle, it swung open, framing Mother Margareta.

     “What happened?”

     “How do you…” This wasn’t the time for questions. Greta opened her hand. “This fell, and he said to find him.”

     “It’s to be you then. Follow me.”

     Greta hurried after Margareta’s quick pace. Chanting voices echoed in the corridor. In Margareta’s office, Greta couldn’t still her voice any longer. “It’s a mistake.”

     Margareta sat in a cushioned chair behind a maple wood desk. Her eyebrows raised.

     “I’m not good enough, and I don’t know enough.” Greta paced across the small room. “I’ll fall behind in my studies. I’ll lose the early advances I’ve made. I can’t do this!” She sat heavily on a plain wooden chair near the desk.

     “Will you refuse our god?”

     Greta bit at the inside of her lip, and crossed her arms. “No. Of course I won’t. But I’m still an apprentice. I don’t know enough for something of this importance, this magnitude.”

     “I do not know his mind or why it’s you. These things are not for us to know. Are you through sulking?”

     Embarrassed, Greta sat up straighter and uncrossed her arms.

     Margareta walked over to a bookshelf set into the wall. She pressed her finger along the bindings, moving it down the row.

     “Are you still practicing new spells without a teacher?”

     “Me?” She faltered, searching for a deflecting comment, but finding none in the chaos brewing in her mind.

     “Mmm… Good. You’ll be doing more of that on your journey.” Margareta pulled out several books and handed them to her. “The stable boy will escort you to your father’s house. You can make preparations there. Find a guide.”

     “That’s it? I just, go?”

     “You go.”

     Greta walked to the door. She grabbed the handle.

     “One more thing,” Margareta said, as she opened a chest behind her desk. She lifted a small ornate mace and held it across her desk. “The Chirmu Mace.”

     Back at the desk, Greta, reached out but didn’t touch it. “The mace gifted to the first priestess of Din? I thought that was only a legend.”

     “We prefer to keep it a myth, to ward off thieves.”

     “I can’t possibly…”

     “You must find Dorr. You must take every advantage to succeed.”

     Greta gritted her teeth and took the mace from Margareta. First the gem, and now this. She snapped down on the bubbly feeling in her head.

     “Thank you, Priestess Mother.”

     Margareta nodded.

     Greta quickened her pace to the stables to begin the daunting quest.

 

References: Greta, Barbarian

 
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