Ladimin and the Shrine

Words that you may want to know.

Sahmling — “Darling”.

Baiern — “Mister”

Baia — “Miss”

Masr — The addressment of “Mother”

Dulenaur — A casserole baked in a small wood fire oven with goat’s butter.

Ladimin was a young 14 year old boy of the Eiser house, living at the edge of a village in the Seidequev province. A thin young man with his father’s intelligent blue eyes and soft brown hair. Raised by his warm but sorrowful mother who was prone to uncontrolled fits of tears and screams, he lived on his parent’s farm tending to the goats and wheat crop, occasionally selling small scraps of cloth for extra beans.

His father was once the most respected men in the village, a high caste scholar of the classical works who perished in war as a foot soldier against the enemy Traivil province. Before his birth, his father gave up his caste status to marry a leatherworker’s daughter, purely on the merit of romantic attraction. The other members of the village found this to be unheard of, but accepted this unusual mixed caste family anyway.

He knew he was different, but regardless found nothing strange of his family. He had missed his father dearly, and the only remnants he had left of him came in the form of the household scriptures he had that he spent his free time carefully studying.

“Ladimin”, his father said. “Be a brave boy, and mind your mother while I’m at war.” He still remembered. “I don’t know how long I will be gone, but you must nonetheless learn to be a man even though you are only seven.” “I know you will do well.” He sat there at the door of the house moping, ruminating over this time. His mother came back from her sweeping and saw him sitting with his head down. “Ladimin!” she exclaimed. “Do you have anything in mind to do but sit there looking glum for the whole day?” “Stop looking so sad, why don’t you got tend to the goats?”

The young man looked up. “Masr, I already fed Baira and her kids twice, I don’t think they need any more hay.” His mother looked sternly at him looking aimlessly at the dirt. “You’ve been on this for days now.” “I know you’re sad Sahmling, so am I, I too feel it every day.” “We must continue however, our stores need more beans for winter, why not go into the village and try to make a trade?” He nodded. “Yes, but Masr what on earth would we trade?” “We only have a few broken plates, how much could we do with that?” She replied to him. “The potter is taking in chips of clay in exchange for crusts of hard bread.” “Why don’t you go to take some clay pieces on the way, and on the way back, see what the other village boys are up to?”

He decided to comply, of course not happily so. He was getting sick of sitting there sulking all day, it proved to cause him considerable anxiety. Strangely enough, the more he allowed himself to ruminate over it, the more unsettling his incessant reminder of the loss of his father became. He had been thinking about it so much recently, so he decided to relieve it simply by doing anything. So he ventured into their small wooden house, and went into the cupboard.

The plates were some of their last few possessions, and they were broken. Masr smashed them in a fit of rage against one of their neighbors, who would refuse to abide by his promise of not expanding his already large plot of land onto theirs. Ladimin could still remember. Reaching into the dusty side of the kitchen, he grabbed the plates and placed them in a small cotton bag. It was a dismal place, the sun shone through the empty window and barely lit up the dusted and dark room. “No wonder Masr gets depressed, she spends so much time here,” Ladimin thought. Slipping on worn leather shoes, he waved goodbye to his mother and made his way out of the house carrying clay chips. They lived only a small walk’s way from the greater village where everyone else lived.

Coming along a small dusty path along a meadow, the obscured houses came up closer and closer to him, until he made it to the village square. It was the middle of the day, and a wide array of farmfolk were around to complete daily chores and enjoy the last bits of the sharp sun before the bitter winters came. Some of the less active men were out kneeling after farm work and socializing over pungent beer, asleep in the sun, warm as the rays itself. Merenemian beer from this region was quite concentrated, and it must have been what they were drinking, it kept you warm quite well even into the harshest of winters. It could also easily make you pass out with enough of a binge, but self control was difficult once you began.

The potter had actually showed him the distillation process, and Ladimin could never stop entertaining himself on the thought of how clever it was. A specially shaped jug was used to filter the alcohol, fumes, and the water as it fermented, so that boiling the mixture was unnecessary. Only catch was everything had to be of the correct proportions, and literally the air did all of the work of brewing the beer. He did not know whether he wanted to try beer yet, Masr discouraged him from it, calling it a “repulsive brew,”. “Your father would have never done such a thing!” She used to say. That would always convince him enough.

On the other side of the sleeping men, a small group of the younger village boys dueled each other with wooden swords. He saw that the larger ones assigned themselves the role of the great and noble armored Seidequev knights, while the smallest boy had to take the role of a lowly bandit from the vengeful Traivil province. The boy was perplexed. What sort of fair play was this? Besides, the Traivils had their own people to feed. 25 bushels of missing grain, he read in his father’s history manuscripts. Like this though, the war between Seidequev and Traivil or Kusten had not been on equal terms, Seidequev had a surplus of fit men, and they obliterated them in an assault on the provinces for their grain. It was a devastating situation, knights nearly always come into battle anticipating death so that they may die honourably and ascend to heaven, but this case was just a work of sheer dominance. Perhaps the boys were simply imitating what had been going on recently just for fun, or to send a message to each other, he couldn’t tell.

The pondering 14 year old made his way to a fork in the road, and he knew which way to go. If he had nothing else to do, he would always wander around making sure to memorize all the routes. By this time, he was an expert. Travelers in the village always pointed to him for instructions on the routes, because he knew every pathway. It would be a turn to the right to the potters, and Ladimin made his way. Trekking away from the village, he saw that the houses behind him grew smaller. There were less and less houses as he made his way to the potters, the potter like his own family prefered the quiet of the deep country. It was a nice little route, where a few broadleaf trees passed him on his way. A creek ran near it as well, which the craftsman used to power his potter’s wheel of course.

Eventually, he made it before a small cottage and peered to his door, to see it half open. Ladimin knocked gently on the outside. “Hello Jeideq Baiern?” “Are you available?”. No answer. He knocked again. “Excuse me Baiern?” A grunt replied. “Go away confounded boy, whoever you are!” “I am not making any more clay bombs for anyone!” Clay bombs were an especially mindless toy that Dateed made the other boys sometimes get for him. It was a little lump of dusty clay filled with colored power that you threw on any surface, and it detonated into a choking cloud. The potter was tired of making these silly toys all day, so he went back to making plates out of scraps in his time.

Ladimin was confused. “Jeideq Baiern, I’m not here for clay bombs though, I’m here to make a trade.” “I have clay chips from my Masr.” A silence. “Oh, is that you Ladimin?” “I’ll be there in a second.” Someone stood up, and came to the door. That familiar old face appeared, the kindly but worn face of that old man that he had known. “I’m sorry, I just thought that you were one of the boys who keep prodding me for clay bombs.” “Some of them have nothing to do, so they can’t get enough of these dreary things.” He smiled at him. “I know you though Ladimin, I’m more certain that you have come here for something actually important.” “So you say that you have clay chips?” “Let me see.” He grabbed the bag in his thickened hands, and eyed the contents of the bag. “Well, it’s not much, but I certainly get you something for it.” “Why don’t you come in?”

The young man entered, and was met with a sudden musty smell. He crinkled his nose, but looked away so as not to offend. “Oh don’t worry, you see.” “I’m just brewing beer in the back the way the brewer taught me, it’s the most I could do to help him in my free time.” Ladimin came and sat beside the chair on the table of his house. “Can I offer you anything Eiser youngster?” Ladimin shrugged at his response. “I am not allowed to have ale according to my Masr.” The Jeideq man was not offended. “Oh yes, like your mother has told me.” “Oh believe me, she let everyone know.” “None of that disgusting elixir for my poor son, she always says.” “Anyway, there we are.” He reached into his cupboard. “The most I can honestly trade you for chips such as those is this plate.” Ladimin looked at him with slight disappointment. “Plate chips for a plate?” “I was expecting a few crusts of bread or so.” The potter sighed. “I’m sorry, I know, but it’s the most I have really.” “Why don’t you just take it, I’m sure your mother will be happy enough with it.” The 14 year old was indifferent, so he chose to comply again. “Fine, I’ll take it.” “Thank you.”

The potter handed him one of his products. He fingered the edges slightly. The embroidered patterns were beautiful. It was smooth and gentle like always, Baiern Jeideq always had the best products no matter what, he had been doing his craft at pottery for years now. He looked at the sulking Ladimin with concern. “My mother has been telling me you seemed sad these past couple of days.” “Why don’t you tell me what has been happening?” He pursed his lips in response. “Sure.” He said. “I’ve just been on something for days now.” “I realize that there just isn’t much to any of this, it’s been the same old provincial life.” “I read a few scripts here and there and wander around, but nothing feels like anything anymore.” “I guess what I’m saying is, I really want more to life than what I have.” “I’m so sick of just feeling so trapped!’

The potter looked at him with sympathy. Ladimin came to his senses again. “I’m sorry that I blurted out so much.” Jeideq understood. “On the contrary, what you are experiencing is all too normal, but it seems to be oriented a particular way for you.” “If I may say, I don’t think you will continue being very happy here.” “I knew your father well, and in many ways he resembled you.” “You don’t really have a satisfaction for the ‘ordinary’ things in life, much like him.” “How many scripts have you read so far?”

“Twenty two scripts sir, I have all of them memorized by now.” Jeideq was impressed. “Oh wow, you must have a lot of time on your hands.” “I’m curious, what fields do they cover?” Ladimin shifted in his chair. “The first one talks about the history of Seidequev, and the stores of grain we had during the winters.” “My dad also wrote about the position of the north star in relation with the harvests.” “There is also some poetry about the rabbit and his hole in the ‘depths of the earth’, the eagle in his arrogance, the fox and the winter snow.” “The night sky and the weather of the earth, astrology, alchemy and a little bit of arithmetic.” “That’s all I have on the top of my head.”

The man sighed. “It’s such a shame really.” “I see you have a clever mind, but it’s going to such waste.” “What do you do to keep yourself out of the dark?” “You must be bored out of your skull.” “Yes,” Ladimin agreed. “Like I said, I feel trapped.” “Always.” Jeideq still had something to say however. “Again, you are knowledge based really, but have you ever heard of ‘Ein’?” Ladimin was still looking down at the earth. “What about it?” “I hardly know anything about it.” “I just know that the knights ‘ascend’ to it or something.” “Well,” The man responded. “That’s the first thing they tell you, but that is only the beginning of it.” “Long ago, our land forgot the ways of it.” “The tenets of Ein are said to be recorded in vast libraries of scriptures, they detail it’s significance in the form of stories as old as time.” “Your father was a scholar who actively studied it during his time at the shrine.” “He told us, to understand Ein, is to see the world beyond the surface.” “

‘What is the shrine?” The young man inquired. “The shrine is a sacred place.” “It is where someone like you definitely needs to go.” Jeiteq responded. “I have hardly been there myself, but I think it is time you found a place that will suit you.” “I think, you would do well there.” Ladimin was considering this. “Are you seriously suggesting I go to this far off place?” “I wouldn’t know what to expect.” The older man chuckled. “I think it is your best chance to take initiative there.” “Good.” “Well, now I am a little busy, so why don’t you be on your way soon?” “At least talk it over with your Masr.” Ladimin thanked him, took the plates and set on his way back home. The potter waved to him one last time out the door. “I think you will like the shrine my friend.” “Do consider it!”

Ladimin did consider it as he walked back. The shrine was something he vaguely remembered being mentioned by his father with the village elders. A mysterious, sanctimonious place somewhere off deep into the country, where quiet men ran their days studying scriptures. He hardly remembered many of the details, but it captured his interest. Otherwise, the boy spent his days doing provincial chores or obtaining knowledge that he scraped together from any source he could, whether it was extra scriptures, watching the craftsmen at their craft or trying to sketch his own scripture every once in a while. He took the turn from the fork towards the village with all of this on mind. Eventually, he made his way to the village square carrying the extra plate.

Dateed was with all of the other boys in the village square with Seitan by his side, chatting up the other boys his age, conspiring on whether they should try to hunt again. Dateed was one of the largest and most arrogant boys in the village, a tall 15 year old with burgeoning biceps that he took great pride in when he showed off. He genuinely enjoyed causing trouble around, whether it was bothering the men in the fields, or pulling the ears of the younger boys, but this time, he finally came to terms with the lord banning commoners from hunting in the forests. Ladimin inched around. Very quickly, someone accidentally provoked Dateed and a brawl broke out. Seitan just sat by laughing as Dateem started to pummel one of the other boys around. His boredom and anger had already got the best of him, as he frisked with the other 15 year old. It only took a minute for dust to rise. Ladimin caught a glimpse of a few older girls standing by watching the entire spectacle with slight smiles on their faces. He wasn’t able to tell whether they were actually amused watching this scene unfold, or simply put on smiles of awkwardness.

It escalated to shouting, and he wanted no part in this. “I’ll just slip the other way,” he thought, “He won’t notice me at all.” Ladimin made his way away from the dirt square, but before he new it, he caught someone’s eye. “Hey there Ladimin!” He froze. It was Dateed’s sharp voice. Ladimin was not one of his regular victims, but due to his smaller and thinner stature he sometimes managed to attract the bully’s unwanted attention. Luckily for him, he could typically stave off a physical assault for some time with his comebacks. He would just inch a little bit further away, maybe get a head start and it might turn out fine. “I see you have a little something with you, mind if I take a look?” The other boys turned their heads towards him. He persisted. “We were just playing a little game here, I think you might be interested!” Ladimin would have none of it. “I’m a little bit occupied at the moment, maybe another day.” Dateed chuckled to himself. “What kind of knight do you think you would make with an attitude like that?” “You would be lucky to be allowed a slingshot!” Ladimin kept the plate closer to himself. “Why are you so passionate about the war?” “They wouldn’t even let you be a squire for the knight’s guild when you were younger!”

The bully was only amused. “Oh, little Baiern Scholar, why so much hesitation, where’s your sense of honour?” “Maybe you’d like your books instead, just like your father!” He froze again. His ears turned red with fright and anger, and the girls took notice of this. “He knew he couldn’t take that guy on.” “I should really get going now.” He said, and he started to leave. “You know,” Dateed said. “Perhaps I should teach you a little sense of honour myself!” he sprung to his feet. Ladimin knew exactly what this would mean, and before he knew it he took off. “You’re a disgrace to our province you little worm!” Dateed yelled behind. “Just wait until I get my first sword on you!” The boy ran as fast as he could with his plate, the last thing he wanted to do was to get it broken. Luckily, he had very little weight on his body, so he ran far down the road towards his house with a distinguished speed, and before he knew it, he had outran that beast. It only took five minutes for him to look back, and see that he had given up and retreated back down the road. He put his bag down, and stopped to catch his breath. If he gave him too much time, he would start at him again, so he continued onto his mother’s house. It only took seven more minutes, before he reached the door. Masr was standing there, spreading flour on a surface.

Masr was pleased to see him again. “Oh good, you’re back.” “I’m happy that you spent a good portion of the day at least doing something.” “What do you have for us?” Her son showed her the plate. Ladimin was surprised to see her pleased. “Oh good!” she said. “A fresh plate from the potter, he must have been quite generous today.” “I’m proud that you brought this my son, we can trade this again for a good price.” “Did you stop by and see what the other boys were doing?” She asked. Ladimin cringed to be reminded of what happened earlier. “Oh yes,” he replied. “Dateed started a fight again.” “Like he always does.” “Then he went after me.” His mother was concerned to hear this. “Oh my goodness, that must have been quite cruel.” “His own Masr says that he is difficult to control, so he takes out his angst by fighting other boys all day.” She turned to smile at him. “Let’s just have an afternoon meal first.” “Tell me what you ran over with the potter.”

Masr was cooking a small meal. She rolled out flat slivers of dough to make a type of steamed bread that went well with her bean and sage soup. She set a plate of the soft, slightly sour steamed bread, and set by two small bowls of this small brown liquid. She made it a special way, where she ground the beans first, and mixed it with sage to make it into a sharp sauce. It was a filling way to spend a few remaining beans. He would pick up a scrap of the fresh bread, soak it into the fluid, and popped it into his mouth. It was deeply satisfying. He poked silently at his broth, after a few minutes, his mother grew curious as to what he was thinking about. Then he brought up the shrine that he had mentioned with the potter. They considered it for some time. “You know,” Masr brought up. “I wasn’t going to tell you, but I’ve been talking to them about how you are, and they did bring up that you might do well at the shrine.” “They have the most texts in the entire province.” He nodded his head. “That, Masr, is exactly why I have to go.” “I might have something there for me, and I should at least see where Patr came from.”

She looked at him with affirmation. “Yes.” “I do think it would be good for you.” “Just show them that you can read, and you will be accepted.” “They will be even more pleased when you mention that you are the son of a scholar.” “We’ll borrow a few coins from Hayer next door, pack you a few things, and you will be on your way by morning.” “My boy, will become a great scholar like his father, and maybe even make enough travel to the east of Merenem to Qunaw, where he will work with some respectable men at his level.” “So what do you say?” she asked. Ladimin of course decided to take the chance to go. The more he heard about it, the more eager he was to leave for something new. They cleared the table, and got ready for the day tomorrow. Masr was eager that he would go this time, so she sold their chair for extra silver in the evening.

They packed his supplies with the earned coins, some sticks of bread, a little goat’s cheese, fresh water, Tafen leaves to ward off hunger, a little sheet holding directions, (He could read of course), a script to prove that he was the son of Baiern Eiser, and a firestarter. “Make sure that you tell them, that you have my approval to study,” she said as they prepared. “It’s important that they know so that you may be let in.” Hayer and a few of the village elders came to bring their best wishes for the boy in the evening, and brought a few extra coins to ensure his good luck. He would start on his journey of becoming a young man starting by the next day. Perhaps he could even find a wife that could match him by the time he was seventeen. They went to bed a little bit earlier that night, it would be a long day tomorrow. She asked Hayer to wake them up at sunrise, and he gladly complied.

To be continued on part 2.