The Order of the Lodestones
Early in the days of the Lightsworn, the Beaconites came to me. They were brought by Braddek, a stalwart dwarf, and unfortunately for the Beaconites, some of them had not quite understood the life they had just accepted. In looking for a place to have them settle, I let my spirit guide me, and although the village proved to be very useful, it wasn’t entirely hospitable, being very cold and generally a quiet place. Excellent for meditation, but not necessarily for holding services. However worship was needed, and a house to do it even more so. Thus the Lodestones were created, the masons of the Lightsworn, building houses of worship where ever they were needed. But how to build them was a bit beyond my reach. Luckily I had a run in with one of the Dwarves in Wyldshire who had been charged with the upkeep of the Labyrinth.
It was directly following the Templar ceremony for Darius, and as we walked out Taran pointed out a Dwarf that seemed to be eyeing us. Not wanting to start any trouble in the Church, Taran reluctantly agreed to let me talk with the Dwarf myself, while he decided to take Darius for a celebratory drink. I approached the Dwarf with a certain amount of caution. His beard braids were excellently maintained and kept in dull steel looking bracelets. The hair on his temples slightly graying was also kept tight and practical.
“Is there something I can help you with sir?”
“The armor that Human wears. Wasn’t exactly made for him was it?” His voice was of a natural gravel, the standard for a Dwarf, but there was something oddly refined in it.
“Many of us cannot afford to have tailored armor.” I responded coyly.
“Many of us don’t have Dwarven runes inscribed on our armor either, least of all Humans.” He looked at me strongly, not intimidating, though I’m sure he could have been if he wanted. He seemed merely interested in the fact of the thing, rather than how it came to be Taran’s.
“It’s true. I can assure you though, he came to it through honorable means, honors the traditions from which it was borne, and puts it to good use.”
He loosened up a bit, apparently satisfied with the answer, “Ah. Good use is good news. Can’t stand idle people or idle things. Dark take the idle, give Light the busy. Everything’s got to have a purpose.”
“And what is your purpose Master Dwarf?”
“Ah, don’t Master Dwarf me. I’m old, not that old. Dardworian. Yes, I’m from Darmordir, yes my family are patriots of the old ways, and yes they were disappointed when I joined the Church.” He shifted slightly, turning back to the great hall where the floor was cracked from the pressure of beasts in the Labyrinth. “THAT is my purpose. The greatest challenge I know for a Dwarf. Build something so strong that even beasties from your deepest darkest nightmares can’t escape.”
“Hmmm, it has seen better days. What is causing it?”
He whipped back around, half offended, half frustrated, “Hoity toity politics is causing it! If they had let me reinforce the damned thing like it should have been, you’d never hear a peep out of the damn things!”
“I see, and how were you planning to reinforce it? I’ve been down there, I’m surprised they stayed concealed as long as it did.”
“That’s because when they first built it they didn’t have the resources!”
“That seems backwards doesn’t it?”
He studied me for a moment, as if looking to see what I myself was made of, “Come here.” He began walking down the stairs towards the cracks in the ground. He knelt down and began to pet and prod the marble, onyx, ivory, and other precious rock until he got to what I assumed was simply the mortar of it all. “When they build the place they only had dense hard stone. The Church used to be poor. It wasn’t pretty, but it was sturdy, and if you had a half decent enchanter, you could pull off layers of wards before anything would crack through.” He sighed, patting the marble, “This stuff though. Pretty to look at, refined, but not rough, not tough. They wanted the Church to look beautiful, attractive, more converts yadda yadda. But what they don’t understand is stone has a way about it. Some Dwarves could even argue the point, but if you ask me, some stones just suck up magic better than others. Maybe not enough to make a difference to the untrained eye, but the old stones are just better at holding on to a ward. I’ve always thought it was because the old stones came from the Gods when they created the world, so they’re just better at accepting their magic.”
He stood up, leaving me kneeling, feeling the stone myself, and I can honestly say that at the time, I didn’t feel or even understand the nuance and difference between the stones besides color and consistency. Now eye to eye he continued to stare at me, eyes like gray stone, “What’s your name Cleric?”
“Santos.” I said looking up from the stones. He looked back at me as if he expected me to answer as much.
“Uh huh. And what’s YOUR purpose Santos?”
The question caught me off guard. Especially in the Church. We all knew our purpose. To spread the word of the Light. To bring an end to the always looming darkness. To help those that could not help themselves. It was the tenants. The answer was borne into me years ago at the monastery. And yet, I felt like that wasn’t the right answer to this Dwarf. And if my tenants weren’t correct, what were they. What I thought I had accomplished at the time didn’t seem as grand. I seemed then to be a small piece in a very large game of dragon chess. So much so that all I could muster was a humble but very telling, “I don’t know.”
For whatever reason the non-answer seemed to please the mason. He put his hand on my shoulder, “You are marble. All pretty and shiny. But you won’t hold magic. Marble won’t hold your faith. You know what a lodestone is?”
I shook my head while he nodded.
“A lodestone is a rather unattractive thing. Usually roughly cut, not for the looking. But it is magnetic. It is unattractive to the look, but attractive to the soul. Not only that, but lodestones can be made, filled with magical energy, filled to the brim where they break the laws of magic. The Church has made you a pretty piece of marble. But faith is not pretty. Faith is raw, uncut, and powerful. Never mistake beauty with goodness; majesty with righteousness. Be the lodestone. The lodestone will use the Light in itself to attract more Light like you did with that young Templar. The lodestone offers room in its soul for Light to spread across the world, never forcing, just attracting. The lodestone can expel that Light to drive out the Darkness. Be the lodestone Santos.”
He clapped my shoulder and a roar bellowed from below us. He looked down as the pebbles on the floor shook.
“Well, looks like I have some patching to do. Gods help me if I don’t get some decent Dwarven stone soon.” He began to walk away to the stairs where the catacombs began. Just before he got out of ear shot he looked back and grinned wryly, “You know Maulik was right about you. You’ve got the spirit of something more. Look forward to seeing what you do.”
I stood humbled and yet happy, “You know Maulik?”
“Oh yea sure, all Dwarves know each other.” He said incredulously laughing, “Sorry, that was a bit racist, don’t tell him I said it. I met him on a scouting campaign, I was building some makeshift battlements. And back here? Well you run into people more when you’re at the same eye height.” With that he walked away.
The Lodestones will travel as needed to cities and towns who need a place to worship the Light. They need not condemn any current Church of Light to construct a Lightsworn Temple, but in any case the Temple will be made of simple stone, hard, rough, and practical. Our faith is not one of luxury, nor is it one of vanity. Artwork may adorn it, but precious jewels, stones, and metals should be avoided. It is not a representation of who we are or what we need to be for the people. If we concern ourselves with worldly needs, then the world will not gain its own needs. In the times when Temples are not needed, they will help the small folk build houses, infrastructure, and other amenities as needed. And should the day arise and any of the Lightsworn come across real lodestones, let them be imbued with all the Light they can hold, and sit above the altar of a Lightsworn Temple.