Serach and Dromun Picture

The two brothers had been traveling for many years. Their sandals were worn and their feet were blistered and bleeding; but they did not rest. Their mission was of no great importance to any god or creed. They were nomads preaching an archaic faith passed down from their fathers and the fathers before their own and the fathers before even theirs; it was not their own experiences and beliefs that had forged it, but it made no difference.
There was a modest temple on the side of the road. A path next to it lead into a nearby village. The temple's domes were orange and they sparkled in the twilight as the two brother prophets neared closer. The breeze was intermittent but icy, blowing shards of snow into the brothers's faces. It chipped at their humble attire tirelessly and they decided to take shelter in the temple. Coughing and wheezing, they threw aside the imposing wooden doors and entered. The place was adorned with semi-precious stones and a maybe little gold leaf amongst the bricks and mud that made up the majority of the building; the inside of the dome was papered in blue and quaint little golden stars hovered by strings anchored to the ceiling. It was empty save for a few worshippers around a statue of some infidelic goddess who were singing infidelic prayers; and the temple's steward, who bade the prophets to her with a slight wave of her hand.
"All are welcome," she said, in a husky voice that barely rose over a whisper. Her hair hung down in thick locks across her face, obscuring one of her eyes. "Will you be needing shelter for the evening? I take it you are not ones of our faith," she said, glancing at the amulets the prophets wore adorned with religious symbolisms and crusty jewels.
"'Tis appreciated," replied Serach, his steely eyes unblinking. Dromun, his brother, dropped a few coppers into the donations box and the steward smiled at him and nodded in thanks. Dromun grinned back, but probably a little too lustily.
The steward led them to a room in the back of the temple. A few beds hastily scrabbled out of hay and burlap lay on the ground. She left them and shut the door daintily. Dromun sighed exhaustedly and took off his coat and pack, setting it on the nearest bed. Serach was still dressed in his gear, picking around the room carefully. Dromun rolled his eyes slightly.
"Searching for pagan magics, art thou, brother?"
"Perhaps," he mumbled, pulling a large bale of hay to the side. Behind it was a small door decorated with rune-script. It swung open slightly. Dromun was leaning back on his bed with his arms crossed behind his head.
"Quit thy fussing and go to sleep, I won't get a wink in with all of thy racket." Dromun fumbled with his amulet absentmindedly.
"In a moment," replied Serach, ignoring his brother completely, and he began to study the strange runes that were painted onto the door. The door opened into a small stone hallway. The runes were not familiar to him - they were cold to the touch and even though to him they were nothing but gibberish, they felt like they meant something. He closed the door and replaced the hay bale.
"Best not to tarry here too long, Brother Dromun; I feel there may be something amiss if we do." Dromun replied with a snore. Serach undressed himself and lay on the bed, closing one eye and leaving the other open.

Dromun's slightly unclean dreams were interrupted rudely by his brother grabbing him by the throat and pulling him up. He raised a finger to his lips and released his grip; pointing at the rune door. There was a murky yellow light stretching around the edges of the bale.
"I'm going to take a look - ready thy weapon, Brother, and be prepared to run." Dromun was still half-asleep, but awake enough to be scared out of his wits. He fumbled with his knapsack and produced a small dagger. It shook in his hand. Serach pushed the bale aside; the runes on the door were aglow with pagan magic. He cursed audibly, stepped back and drew a sigil of protection around himself, and bade Dromun to do the same. He tried the door they had entered the room with; the pagan wench of a steward had locked it. There was no way out but the rune door.

Serach shakily reached for the handle and turned it. The door creaked open and light filled the room; what was once a small doorway was now a large, sunlit garden. The door was a path to a different place. A place of magic.
"Surely thou aren't going in there?" Dromun peered into the garden curiously.
"I'm not stupid, but I shall not rot in a cell, either." Serach replied.
They both stepped through.

It was not a garden so much as a flowery glade; and one strangely absent of the sounds of buzzing insects and running water and the touch of gentle breezes. The grass was straight and unmoving, and it crunched beneath their feet loudly as they walked. There was an impossibly tall edifice in the middle of the glade that rose into the clouds. They approached it carefully. On the other side of the stone tower was a grisly sight.

It was alive - it was pulsing with life. It belched blood and soil from a cut in its flesh with naught a scream or cry. It hissed a fine mist of blood at the brothers, who yelped and covered their faces with their sleeves. Wiping black-red ooze from his tunic, Dromun asked aloud - "What is it?" Serach shook his head unknowingly.

(I am a Vein), it said suddenly, venting more blood into the air. Its voice was thick and wet and angry.

Serach had seen stranger things.

"Why are thou here? What is the nature of this place?"

The Vein bubbled what was probably a weak approximation of a laugh. (I bleed for Her,) it replied. (And the nature of this place cannot be understood or explained. The closest thing I can tell you is that you are not in your own world.) Dromun sat on the ground quickly, his head spinning. Serach went straight to the point:

"How to get back?"
(You may leave when you have finished what you came here for.)
Serach scoffed a bit. "We came here to leave somewhere else."
(That is not true. You were brought here for a reason. To the temple that serves as a gate?)
"My brother and I are but travelers. We stopped for a night's rest."
The Vein spat more blood from the cut. (That is besides the point. Your presence is not an accident. It is my turn to ask the questions now.)
Serach nodded to the Vein. There was not much choice in the matter, so he decided to listen.
(You wish to know my nature. I will tell you of my nature. Open thy ears and you will find the knowings you seek.)
Dromun and Serach leaned forward as the Vein began its tale.

(My duty is to serve my Mother. I know no other purpose. My blood is that of the skies, drawn down to the earth so She may drink of it. The tower, the arm, the needle I am extends to the heavens and cuts them open and drains them dry. I am the only one. But I cannot bleed myself. I must be shut. You will help me with this.)
Serach rubbed his chin. "Canst we leave after rendering assistance? And how did this injury come about?"
(Yes. I do not know why You were brought here, though - a midwife of the Mother would have been a much more proper choice.)
"I concur wholeheartedly, sir," said Dromun.
(It is not a new wound, but rather, an old one unsealed with time. The blood is being wasted. There will not be enough for this place, this land, to survive if the flow is not controlled. You must suture my wound by any means.)
"I am not a medicine-man," replied Serach. "But I will do my best. What do you ask of me in completing this task?"
(A spell. You must heal my flesh with a holy spell of the Mother.)
"Nonsense," said Serach. "I am a clergyman. It would be blasphemous, not to mention - impossible. I know no such magics."
(It is neither blasphemous or impossible. I, and the Mother, are more a part of you than what you think you know. Does not the fact that you have transcended your very own world illustrate to you the fact that your beliefs are flawed? We exist, we are real, we cannot be replaced. I would cast such a spell myself, but my mind can only manipulate that which is not of my realm.)
Dromun piped in for a moment: This Mother - is she a deity? A force? A power?"
(The Mother is none of these things. She does not exist in the material. She is an ideal. She inspires us to keep the world as it is, to work towards things greater than ourselves in the hopes of ultimate salvation, and universal harmony. She is almost a god, in that respect, I suppose... but no more a god than any you may believe in.)
Dromun looked concerned. "Are you saying that my belief, and Serach's... that they are false?" Serach started at this, but the Vein replied quickly:
(No, no they are not. I am separate from religious belief. I am of science. Those pagans, in the temple... they do not worship me, they worship gods of their own creation. I am a cog, a part of the world. I am just as much a creation of a god as you are. Continue to believe as you will, but do not dismiss the things I say and the things you have learned as pagan trickery.)
"Then why was the path to you and this realm inside a pagan temple? Do they know of you and of this Mother?"
The Vein was succinct in its reply: (You two are the only flesh I have seen for many thousand years. I called you here because I have been wounded. I have done it before - anyone can be brought, but some can do better in the work I have for them. I have chosen the correct individuals to carry out my will without fail. So, no, they do not know of me. They are fools. The rune door? The steward of the temple has never seen it in her short life. I put it there as soon as she left the room. I can do much in your realm with my spells.)
"Hm. You knew I would search the area carefully." Serach smirked. The thing was bloody intelligent.
(Yes. Now, please, to the task at hand - you must cast the spell. I say it is a spell, but in reality it is no more than an expression of your will and mind; you must heal me with it. Focus - focus on the cells, on all of the little beings and life that make me up - and bind them to each other once again, where they are supposed to be. Bring them together. Many, into one.)

Serach closed his eyes and brought his hands up to his mask. His mind swam with thoughts of flesh scaffolding and growing in strength and size; of skin stretching and healing over bone and joints and tendon. Ever since he had been close to the Vein, he had found his mind was remarkably clear; it was very easy to concentrate. He wagered it was assisting him in some way. His eyes flew open at the sound of Dromun whooping happily. "You've done it, Brother! You've bloody done it!" Dromun danced a bit and embraced his brother. The Vein sucked at the sealed wound carefully.

(Thank you, Brothers,) it said in a clear, womanly voice; (I am healed. Now, you must leave, and go with the knowledge I have given to you, but keep it to thyselves. It is the way things must remain. Secrets are not always meant to be treacherous and deceptive. Realize that everything - the nature of the entire world, the weaving of the web of the universe - hinges on its proper operation. It is best to keep quiet and work in the background, yes. So, go. And with my blessing...)

The glade started to darken considerably; a black fog rolled in from all directions. Dromun shouted in alarm, but it engulfed the two brothers in an instant.

Blinking the dizziness out of their eyes, they found themselves back in the tiny back room of the temple once again. Where the rune door had been was nothing but smooth stone. Dromun shook his head in disbelief, and Serach jumped at the sound of the locked door to the room rattling, the steward of the temple fiercely trying to unlock it. Her voice was faint.
"Open the door! 'Tis stuck fast!"

A small key lay on the floor directly in front of the door. Dromun stepped forward, picked it up carefully, and unlocked the door. The steward burst through and fell into his arms. Dromun was overjoyed at this.

"How very strange," She said, gasping for breath. "There was never a lock on that door before..."

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