"Why yah moping Mesi?" Gregor plopped down beside his friend. He was a light-hearted Daezun with a penchant for mischief. However, today he was serious for Mesiande was usually just as bright and now she sat with tear stained cheeks at the river's edge. The sun was dropping slowly behind the hill and the refraction of the clouds bathed the small clearing in shimmering golds. The water tumbled and frothed over rocks in a cascade of noise like a thousand voices. Mesiande was caught in a beam of gold as she turned her face to look at Gregor, her hair seemed streaked with the soft metal that was so abundant in their lands. "Did yah not find any stones this trip?"
"I found a few. Alador found an enormous one but..." She looked back at the river choking back a sob and tossed a rock into it.
"But what? I bet he is so happy." Gregor's smile faded. "Did Potre take it again?"
"No, he has it. He just... he hit his head when he pulled it from the ground." Mesiande looked back at Gregor. "The healer said he might not wake back up. He was so hot Gregor and I had to have help getting him down out of the hills. What if he dies?" She could not hold back the tears and they slipped down her cheeks in dusty trails.
Gregor pulled her close and let her cry. He stroked her head and hugged her tight. "That middlin is too annoying to die. Don't worry."
Mesiande punched him in the side. "Do not joke."
"Owww. Who was joking?" He rubbed his side. "He always comes out alright. Don't worry." He pushed a stray hair that had escaped her braids from her face. "Yah will see. He will be just fine."
She stared into his eyes hopefully. "I hope so. I would .. I want.." She bit her lip.
"I know. Yah have eyes for Alador. Yah have since yah was a small one." Gregor smiled. "He will be okay. I promise." He hugged her tight once more. "How about I walk you to Rian's Cave and you can say some prayers."
"Alador doesn't believe in Rian. Well he believes but he doesn't honor any specific god yet." She stated sadly.
Gregor pushed her away a bit. "But yah do Mesi. Yah can pray from yar faith and Rian will still listen."
Mesiande stared at him hopefully and slowly nodded. "All right. I suppose I would feel better and it certainly can't hurt. At least I would be doing something." She said.
Gregor rolled to his feet and offered a hand to pull her up. The sun was behind the hill but they had a good amount of light left. The valley was narrow enough that while the sun was not shining down upon them, it was still in the sky. They walked in silence to the small cave that had been set aside for those that served Rian, the god of stone and mining.
Gregor stayed outside to wait as Mesiande ducked into the narrow opening. It opened up a short way in. Two torches lit the walls, their flames flickering in the cool drafts. She made her way to the altar and knelt down. The altar was nothing more than a stone block carved from the cave and set with a candle on each corner. A middlin was assigned each day to make sure the candles and torches stayed lit. There was a gold bowl in the center for offerings. Mesiande stared at it wondering what would be proper to give for a prayer for healing. She had only come to the cave a few times in her life.
She dug into her belt pouch and pulled out the largest bloodstone. She laid it in gently in the golden bowl and closed her eyes in prayer. Her voice echoed off the walls as she shared her fears and hopes with her god.
"Rian, blessed watcher of the metals and bringer of health to the land. I offer my largest bloodstone in hopes you will hear my prayer. I know Alador is not chosen to honor your path but he does honor all the gods. I beg you from my heart and in his name to return him to me. He is very important to me. I was hoping one day we could be housemates if he would ever choose to have one. I know he is not completely of the people but his heart is one with the land and people. Please heal his head and let him wake up. By honor of land and hearth. By blessed digger of all that is precious."
Mesiande slowly opened her eyes. The cave had grown cold and the flames danced wildly. However, her eyes widened when she saw that the golden bowl was empty. The god had taken her offering. She slowly smiled. He would be all right as Gregor had said. Rian had taken her bloodstone." She got up happily and ran out to Gregor.
Gregor looked up just in time as Mesiande launched herself into his arms. "Woah. What got yah all gnarled up?"
"He is going to be all right." She murmurred against his chest, her arms around his neck.
"I told yah that all ready." Gregor pointed out with a grin.
"So did Rian." Mesiande breathed out a sigh of relief.
"The God spoke to you?" Gregor began to feel Mesiande's head for bumps.
"Stop that!" She batted his hands away and stepped back. "Not like he spoke. I offered a bloodstone and he took it."
"Took it?" Gregor asked in amazement.
"I opened my eyes and it was gone." She turned and headed for the village. "Come on. We best get home before it is dark."
Gregor followed her in silence. He could never remember hearing of the God just taking an offering. He had always just left his in the bowl when he was done. He didn't have the heart to share that with Mesiande. What ever happened in the cave, it had given her hope.