Thought I’d try and post this. Part 1 & 2 are up. Feel free to leave any comments or criticisms. This won’t be the last story I write.
Edit: 10/09/2016 You can now read this story on Fanfiction.com
Part 1 - Seeking the Muse
“Can I make a sculpture of the Goddess Giltinė?”
It seemed like a relatively innocent question from the young apprentice. He was a boy no older then fourteen with short, messy black hair covering his eyes. He was sitting at a work bench chipping away at a somewhat crude sculpture of the Goddess Laima. Looking for more reference material, the boy looked through some of Master Tesla’s old books. It’s there that he came across the picture of the Goddess of Death. The young apprentice didn’t read anything about the goddess but was instead was captivated by the artist’s portrait of her. There was just something … entrancing by Giltinė’s very presence. Taking the book to Tesla, the apprentice was excited to sculpt a new model.
But when Tesla heard this question, a nervous look crossed he face. He paused, as if trying to decide how best to answer his question. A minute pasted in silence before Tesla put down his hammer and chisel. Raising his hand, the sculptor waved over his apprentice. Once he was close enough, Tesla grabbed his shoulders.
“Listen to me. The sculptures we craft call forth the blessings of the goddesses. Nothing good will come from calling upon the Demon Goddess. Now, swear to me you will never try to craft a statue of Giltinė, Alberto.”
“Alberto? Alberto!” The woman shouted at the dazed sculptor. He seemed to be lost in thought thinking of an old promise he made with his master. Alberto only came out of his stupor when he almost dropped his chisel. After four years of training Alberto was no longer was an apprentice but a fully-fledged Dievdirbys. To focus on his craft, he moved to a small hut in the Gytis Settlement Area.
“Do you still need me for this sculpture you’re making?” The young woman asked as she posed for Alberto. She was dressed in a simple white robe with her long brown hair fashioned in a way similar to the goddess Laima. On her back, she wore a pair of fake angel wings. Upon closer inspection the wings seemed to be made from cockatrice feathers.
“Yes Jezebel. This is a special request from Klaipeda and I need a living model to really bring it to life.” Alberto replied as he continued to chisel away at the block of cedar wood. “Don’t worry, I’m almost done.”
“I sure hope so, I’ve been here for four hours and these wings are itchy.” Jezebel replied trying to remain still. After another hour, Alberto put down his tools and dusted off the sculptor. “Finished! Come take a look.” He says waving over his model. Jezebel moved to Alberto’s side trying not to knock over his other works. Once she was in front of the finished product, she let out a gasp.
To put it plainly, the sculpture was terrible. The head was misshaped and the eyes and nose were crooked. The bust and bottom were so unrealistically large that it almost threw the entire statue off balance. The arms were too short, the legs too long, the waist was too thin and the hair too thick. You would have to squint to tell that this was supposed to be a person, let alone the goddess Laima.
Alberto could see Jezebel winch at his creation. “You’re still gonna pay me for my time right?” She asked trying to be as civil as possible. Alberto merely scratched his head in embarrassment and looked away. A few minutes passed and it was clear Jezebel wasn’t going to get an answer or her money. Fuming, she threw the pair of wings back at his face and marched out of the hut.
Just as she left, Gytis came through the door. ”Working on another masterpiece I see.” The old man said. Alberto stepped from behind his newest work to face Gytis. But when he tried to speak, he turned his gaze to the floor.
“Gytis. I’ll have the rent for this month soon. I just need some more time” Alberto said with a fair bit of desperation. All the Landlord could do was shake his head. “That’s what you said last month, and the month before that and the month before that. “ He said. “You said that you would be able to put the wood we gave you to good use. But if you can’t come up with the rent, I am going to need to evict you. I have people actually ready to resettle this land. I don’t have time for some kid who’s just playing around.” All Alberto could do was continue to avoid looking Gytis in the eyes. Gytis left the workshop, closing the door behind him hoping he had gotten the point across.
Tossing his chisel and hammer to the other side of the hut, Alberto went to lie down on the floor. Surrounded by blocks of wood and half-finished goddess statues, he looked up at the ceiling. “Damn it” The sculptor cried in frustration. How was he supposed to pay them when he was broke? It had been ages since he’s gotten a real sculpting job. On top of that, the smaller trinkets he carved out weren’t selling. The only reason he was able to eat was thanks to the kindness of the surrounding farmers. With his past failures weighing on him, Alberto began to drift off. “Why doesn’t anyone want my sculptures?” He lamented before falling asleep.
Alberto found himself in an unfamiliar landscape. The atmosphere was dark and oppressive to the point that he could barely breathe. Before he could even stand, a wave of dark energy pushed him back to the ground. From the swirling mass, a woman descended before him wielding a large scythe.
A thorn crown, a giant scythe and black wings, it couldn’t be… Alberto thought to himself in disbelief. However, he had seen enough portraits to know who this was. Demon Goddess Giltinė.
Despite her ominous title, she seemed to be in a rather joyous mood. “Are you seeing this?” She asks Alberto as he stares up, mouth agape. “The seeds of a greater calamity have already been planted. I wonder …Where could the goddess of Fate be? Where could all the other goddesses be…?” In an instance Giltinė seemed to teleport in front of Alberto, her face only a foot away from his face. “See? Not a single goddess can protect you from the death that is me”
The young Dievdirbys knew he should be more frightened in this situation. But all he could think of was getting his hammer and chisel. He wanted to capture Giltinė’s beauty. For the longest time, Alberto couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm to sculpt any of the other goddesses. Even using a living model couldn’t reignite his passion for sculpting. But here sitting before death itself, all he could do was look on with awe.
And Giltinė seemed to take notice. “Do you find me that alluring, Revelator?” She said as if to taunt Alberto for his strange fascination. At a loss for words, he merely nodded yes. Amused, Giltinė let out a haughty laugh. “Well then, I have a gift for you.” As she spoke, the Demon Goddess took Alberto’s hands. Suddenly, they began to burn as he could feel a sinister energy enter his body. Then in the blink of an eye, everything went black.
Alberto awoke with a start. Back in his workshop surrounded by incomplete statues, the Dievdirbys wiped the sweat from his brow. “It was all a dream” He said to himself as he looked at his hands. They looked unharmed but something felt different. He was suddenly filled with a need to work. Grabbing his old reference books, he set up a new log of cedar wood and started his newest project.
A week had passed and a stage coach had pulled up to Alberto’s workshop. From the coach stepped out a man with gray hair slicked back and a monocle. Dressed in formal attire, the thing that stood out the most was the emblem on his suit. It was a symbol of the West Klaipeda Trading Company. Their network allowed them to transport goods throughout the Kingdom.
Giving the workshop door a gentle tap, the affluent man was greeted by Alberto, though the boy looked like he had seen better days. There were large bags under his eyes. His entire body was covered in sawdust and wood shavings. “Mr. Brandenburg, I’m glad you could come. I’d just finished your statue” Alberto said weakly as he ushered the merchant inside. While Mr. Brandenburg was relatively well off thanks to his various business ventures, he too was affected by Medzio Diena. In the disaster, many of his priceless belongs were destroyed which included his collection of goddess statues. Some of which were crafted by Tesla himself.
“Hmm, this place seems cleaner then I remember” Mr. Brandenburg remarks as he enters the hut. All the half-finished goddess statues seemed to be gone. There was just a single statue at the back covered in a tarp.
“I wanted to try and keep my workspace as clean as possible. Anyway, here is the statue you request. I’m sure you’ll be pleased.” Alberto replied. With a single motion, he pulled away the tarp to reveal his latest creation.
Before the merchant was an immaculate statue of the Demon Goddess Giltinė. Her arms were stretched out as if to welcome the audience into her embrace. Yet the face and eyes were sculpted in such detail that its gaze pierced the soul. The wings were folded in, detailed to the point that one could make out each individual feather. From the tip of the thorn crown to Giltinė’s slender toes, the statue was beautiful.
“I must say Alberto, I wasn’t expecting such a … striking statue.” Mr. Brandenburg said as he rubbed his chin.
With a sense of pride, Alberto gave Mr. Brandenburg a large grin. “I struggled for a bit with this one. I thought I’d try and craft something … different”. He said.
Walking around the statue, the merchant looks over the work nodding in approval. “You know, I once asked Tesla to craft me a statue like this.” He said as he stops in front of the Demon Goddess statue. “I asked him so many times to make me a statue of Giltinė. But every time he would refuse. He said it went against his code as a Dievdirbys” Mr. Brandenburg smiled as he turned to Alberto. “I assume you disagree with that line of thought?” Still a little nervous, he simply nodded yes even if it meant going against Tesla’s warning.
“Then what about we make a deal? I know a few of my other customers would be interested in a Demon Goddess statue. As of this moment, you’re the only Dievdirbys I know of that makes such works. If I can shore up the orders, would you be able to make more statues?” He said stretching out his hand to seal the deal.
Alberto couldn’t agree fast enough. “Of Course Mr. Brandenburg! You’ve got yourself a deal!” he said shaking the elderly merchant’s hand.
Reaching into his breast pocket, Mr. Brandenburg pulled out a bag of coins and made his way to the exit. “I’ll have some of my people come to pick up the statue. It was a pleasure doing business with you Alberto.” With that Mr. Brandenburg returned to his stage coach and left. Once again, the Dievdirbys was alone with his creation. This is it, this is my big break! Alberto thought to himself. A self-satisfied grin covered his face as he looks over the Demon Goddess statue. It wasn’t Laima or Ausrine that got me here, but Giltinė!
Once more, Alberto grabbed his chisel and hammer and resumed his work.
Part 2: The Order Of Orme
It has been a long time since Tesla had seen Alberto. Most of his students would come to visit him on their own. Either they would visit to learn new techniques or share stories over tea. But after seeing some of his disciple’s newer works, Tesla knew it was time to check in on him.
This would be his first time visiting the Gytis Settlement Area. He had heard that a few of the Medzio Diena survivors had come here to convert the forest to farmland. But with every plot he passed, the crops seemed to be rotten or corrupted. It wasn’t just the farmland, most of the farmers and residents seemed to have been drained of their vitality. They walked as if they already had a foot in the ground. Not to mention the land was crawling with monsters. Just as he got to the settlement, he was attacked by three pink Chupaluka. Before they could pounce upon the old man, Telsa erected an owl statue that lay waste to the attacking monsters.
“I wasn’t expecting such a hostile welcome” Tesla commented as he put away his chisel and hammer.
Tesla finally arrived at his apprentice’s workshop. He didn’t even have to open the door to the foul energy radiate from the hut. It gave the old sculptor pass before knocking on the door. Tesla didn’t receive an answer. Instead, the door cracked open. “I’m coming in.” Tesla announced as he entered the workshop.
Entering the workshop, Tesla almost keeled over. Grabbing his heart, the sculptor’s breathe becomes ragged. As he traversed deeper into the workshop, all Tesla could see were statues of Giltinė. All the statues varied in size from simple statuettes to full sculptures. The poses they took ranged from chaste & innocent to alluring & sexual.
Finally at the back of the workshop, Tesla could see Alberto working away at another statue. Once Tesla got close enough, Alberto put down his tools and turned to face his old master. Was the boy always this pale? Tesla wondered as he looked the young Dievdirbys over. His hair was even wilder and more unkempt then before. Not only that, the boy looked sickly and weak. “What brings you here Tesla?” Alberto asked as he parted his hair to reveal his eyes and the bags underneath.
“I just thought I’d pay you a visit. It seems like you’ve ignored our promise.” Tesla said still reeling from the dark energy swirling around the hut. Alberto didn’t seem to notice though. That or he had grown accustom to it.
“It’s because of that promise that I’ve had to struggle for so long.” Alberto said. “Ever since I started crafting these Giltinė statues, my luck had finally turned around.”
“You say that, Alberto. But you’ve failed to see the effect your statues are having on those around you. The farmers and settlers are being drained of their mana by these … these monstrosities!” Tesla yelled trying to regain the upper hand in this argument.
However, Alberto merely dismissed his master’s concerns. “My statues have nothing to do with the farmland. From what I’ve heard, someone’s been sabotaging the crops with some kind of poison. Besides, the people here love my statues.” He said.
“Do you believe that? When was the last time someone pay you an actual visit besides me?” Tesla responded. Alberto didn’t answer. The settlers rarely came to his workshop anymore. Even Mr. Brandenburg avoided coming by, instead sending proxies to pick up the finished works.
Taking his silence as an answer, Tesla continued. “It’s not just this area. There have been stories all around the kingdom. Monster attacks have become more frequent and people have been falling ill due to a mysterious disease. In all these cases, the common factor has been your statues.”
“So what?” Alberto said, seemingly getting more and more agitated as time went on. “Things have been getting crazier and crazier ever since Medzio Diena. You can’t blame it on my statues. In fact people need my work! If other can find the kind of peace I have in these sculptures…”
He didn’t finish his answer and instead smirked. “I know what this is about. You’re jealous of my rising status. My Giltinė statues are a hot item all over the kingdom. Soon when people think of Dievdirbys, they’ll think of me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sculpture to complete.” Finishing his outburst, Alberto turned around and continued working.
Tesla had taught enough students to know when they were unwilling to learn. With a disheartening sigh he turned to leave. “It seems you won’t stop, even if I ask you to. Then as your master, let me give you one last warning. I’m most likely not the only one to notice the connection between the recent monster attacks, illnesses and your statues. If you want to save yourself and your soul, you need to stop crafting these statues.” With that Tesla left, closing the door behind him.
Alone once again in his workshop, Alberto let out a sigh of relief. Deep down, some part of him knew there was some connection between his work and recent misfortune facing the settlement. When he looked up at his latest creation, Alberto couldn’t bring himself to care. Caressing the statue’s cheek, Alberto gave it a weary smile.
“Don’t worry, I’ll never stop. I’ll make sure everyone knows your beauty Giltinė”
In Klaipeda, many local businesses were damaged during Medzio Diena. Even after four years, many of these haunts remain closed. One business that has reopened was a small coffee house just in front of the Ausrine Statue. On a particularly busy day, three guild mates were sitting outside at one of their tables.
A woman with sharp blue eyes and a black long wave perm took a sip of her black coffee and looked to her two compatriots.
“So Nicolas, we’ll be able to find the source of the Demon Goddess statues here?” She asked the man beside her.
Nicolas was a very unassuming man with red hair styled in a quiff. He dropped two sugar cubes into his Aviete tea and stirred his drink. “Yes Lady Eloise” He said as he adjusted his circular glasses. “There have been several cases of mana sickness reported from areas like the Miners’ Village, Tenants’ Farm, Escanciu Village and even Fedimian. All the cases were the results of statues sold by the West Klaipeda Trade Company, all of them of the Demon Goddess Giltinė. We were able to track down the merchant handling the shipment, Mr. Brandenburg. He told us we could find the sculptor in the Gytis Settlement Area”
“Hehe, he was really eager to talk when I threatened to burn his house to the ground” Said the final guild mate at the table. Sitting across from the other two, she was obviously the youngest of the group. Her white hair was styled into pigtails with the tips dyed red. What was more striking were her yellow, cat like eyes. Taking a scope of her strawberry gelato, she pointed her spoon at Nicolas. “Though glasses here had to ruin my fun” She said in a huff.
Nicolas merely adjusted his glasses once more. “If you want to burn things so much, why didn’t you just become a Pyromancer Priscilla?”
Taking another scope of her treat, Priscilla wagged her spoon. “It’s not the same. There’s something special about using a flamethrower. Besides, I am first and foremost a doctor.”
“Looking at you sometimes, it’s easy to forget.” Nicolas quipped, taking a sip of his tea.
“You wanna say that again four eyes” Priscilla said as she stood from her seat.
“That’s enough you two. We have a job to do here.” Eloise interjected stopping the argument in its tracks.
“Yes Lady Eloise.” The two of them respond.
Finishing her gelato, Priscilla lets out a sigh. “Still, why do we have to be the ones to deal with this problem?”
Nicolas finished his tea and put down his cup before turning to Eloise. “I have to agree. It might be better to report this to the local guards.”
Despite their hesitation, Eloise maintained a composed look. “The Order of Orme doesn’t just treat the outward symptoms but the underlying problem. We were the first one to investigate these cases. And I already have guild members hunting down the other Giltinė statues. But it will all be for naught unless we deal with the source of this issue.”
Walking over to the storefront, Eloise gave the clerk a bag of coins and a sincere thank you for the coffee. “It’s time to get to work.” Eloise told her two guild mates. With that, all three guild members grabbed their plague masks and left.