13 Simple Shrine

Erik Fjord, Harald's father, growled at Ania as he stormed his way towards her. "Did you kill him? Then make up this nonsense about him trying to sell you off to hide your crime? Everyone here knows of my son's valour! Yet he was never enough for you, was he?"

Sarri pushed Ania behind her back and planted herself in the way of Erik's mountainous figure. Erik glared at Sarri as if daring her to try something. He was not about to allow some wench to put a stain on his son's honour without evidence.

"You heard what she said, Erik! I suggest you back off until her father comes back. Then we can settle this according to our laws!" Sarri's gaze was like fire as she held Erik's line of sight. Neither of them was backing down at all.

"Laws! Laws, you say? Fine! Then I invoke the right to Trial by Combat! May the Gods strike me down if Harald is guilty of what she says!" Erik turned his head to spit on the ground in front of Ania. Sarri was so shocked by Erik's challenge that she failed to react.

Like a dark cloud, Erik forced his way back through the crowd and soon disappeared from view. The villagers dispersed after that. Looks of pity were evident upon their faces whenever they stole a glance at Ania. Even Sarri did not know what to say. After all, a Trial of Combat was usually carried out until one of the combatants died or the victor spared their opponent.

However, it was apparent that Erik would never spare Ania for what she had said. Even though most folks did not believe the Gods were real anymore, they still believed in the validity of the Trial. At one time in their history, this was how all criminal trials were held. At that time, they thought the Gods watched over the fight and ensured that the guilty party lost.

It was an old custom, and nobody alive in Eraldsfen had ever witnessed one. However, it was still a legal custom, so nobody could deny Erik of his challenge. Sarri was beside herself with worry. It was most likely that these would be the last twenty-four hours that she would ever spend with her daughter.

However, when she glanced at her daughter, she saw no trace of fear on her face. Sarri immediately became even more concerned. Perhaps the shock had been too much for Ania. Little did she know that Ania felt like she had no reason to be afraid. After all, she actually had a God on her side!

Colt stood a little bit behind Ania with a solemn expression on his face. He was feeling pissed that someone was trying to kill his only follower after he had just got her! Did Erik have a death wish? Or at least, that was what Colt was thinking. However, he had no way to intervene right now. His DP was empty, and he had no clue how to regenerate it!

Colt was cursing Erik within his mind as he tried to figure out if there was anything that he could do. It was useless, though, as he was unable to influence the mortal realm with his body. As a dark mood claimed Colt's mind, he helplessly followed Ania as her mother dragged her off home.

There he learned that Ania's father, Mikel Eraldsen, was currently away on a raid. Sarri bombarded Ania with memories that she held dear over a simple meal of rabbit stew and old bread. Colt was in no mood to appreciate the old stone house. There were only two rooms, the living room/kitchen and a single bedroom.

Colt sat by the open fire and stared into the flames as he waited to see if a new Quest would trigger. He was convinced that a quest might be his only hope for saving Ania. Colt was so lost in his thoughts that he failed to notice that the fire had already become mere embers, and darkness had taken over the Eraldsen home.

'Hm, when did it get so dark?' Colt's thoughts were disturbed when soft snoring entered his ears. As he glanced around, he noticed that neither Sarri nor Ania were present. 'How long have I been sitting here?'

Colt frowned as he pulled up the interface to check the time in real life. It was no surprise to gamers like him that time usually passed faster in games than reality these days. His eyes wandered to a corner of the screen. Colt let out a surprised gasp as he doubled checked the time.

Having spent half a day in-game, he was surprised to find that only half abhor had passed in reality. It did not take a math genius to figure out that he could spend a week in-game for seven hours of sleep each night. Two weeks if he pushed himself to stay emerged for fourteen hours straight each day as he was used to.

"Lord Exile…" Ania's soft voice whispered from the gap in the wall that led to the bedroom. "I'm sorry it's not the welcome that I promised."

Colt's eyes moved to examine Ania's trembling lips and the redness around her eyes. 'She probably thinks I'm angry about it. Though I guess, that's a valid fear when you're dealing with a God.' Colt let out a long sigh as he thought about how to reassure her.

On the other hand, Ania took Colt's sigh to mean that he was growing tired of sticking around here. After all, why would a God stay with mortals if they were not receiving benefits?

"It's not much, but I've made a small shrine to you. I promise I'll make something better once I can convince the other villagers to believe in you!" Ania's tone sounded desperate as she bit her lower lip. Colt, on the other hand, had just become intrigued by her statement.

"Show me!" Colt excitedly got up onto his feet and followed a hesitant Ania into the bedroom.

His eyes fell on three small rocks piled on top of each other with Skardian runes written down them. His mind could not comprehend their meaning, but he assumed that it was Gamertag written in their language. A stick of incense burned in front of the rocks, releasing a pleasant smell of pine trees in the room.

[Simple Shrine to Exile detected… Do you wish to bless this shrine? Y/N]

'Yes!' Colt exclaimed in his mind. 'Perhaps there's hope after all if I can increase my Authority again with the Quest Reward!'

[Founding Your Religion… Please Stand By…]

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