Reid opened the ancient book as the bus bumped along the dirt road, carrying him and his student assistants to the next dig site. He wanted to shake away the feeling the dream from the night before had given him. He still could not understand how he’d dreamed of a goddess he’d never seen before or even heard of. She wasn’t one of the ones that was talked about. If what he’d seen in his dream were to be believed, then that was because no one came back down from a journey up Mount Iyla. He stared out the window as his thoughts took him further into some of the oddities that have been going on since he found the book. The board at the university seemed insistent on him going on digs and finding something he didn’t even know he was looking for. The uneasy feeling he’d gotten after talking to them seemed to increase the more he learned about the gods and the old world that they used to occupy. He’d dedicated his life to learning everything he could about them so finding this book should be a major accomplishment but he got the feeling that it was going to cause more problems then he ever anticipated. Reid shook himself out of his thoughts and went about translating another passage from the book—his prized possession and possibly his downfall. He turned his attention back to the text.
A middle-aged man led a group of fifteen people through the portal that led into the god’s realm. They were some of the most devout worshippers of the gods and goddesses so they’d be invited to make the sacred trek up to the Temple of Snow. The men and women were of varying ages, race, and professions. They believed that the beings they worshipped had their best interest at heart and none of them refused when their leader told them about this pilgrimage. They all wanted to show their loyalty and just how much they believed. They walked for a long time through deserts, forests, and grasslands before coming to an area that was covered in snow.
The leader stepped onto the snow-covered ground and the others obediently followed, shivering as they moved further across the land. They knew they were in the right place when they all saw golden liquid spilling down a slope. In front of them, there was what appeared to be another portal, but smaller, built from wood where the light seemed to originate. There were several snow and ice paths to get to the golden light. The leader reminded the others what they needed to do: trek up the path to the wall that surround the ball of liquid that spilled the light and leave a piece of themselves there. He made sure they all had a small pocket knife that they would use to cut their hands and leave red marks of blood on the wall. The leader started up the slight hill first and the others fall into step behind him. Even with multiple paths, they only took one; the most direct one on either side of the molten liquid that carved a path through the snow. They made it in no time at all and the leader told the others he would go first. He was after all the one who’d told them all about the gods and goddesses and fed their faith in these beings. He was the one who’d talked to the one who’d told him to come here. The others just followed their leader blindly since he had direct contact with the gods and goddesses and could give them guidance.
The leader made a shallow cut on the palm of his hand and bravely pressed it to the wall just to the right of the ball of liquid. The liquid did not give off heat or cold. It just seemed to exist. As soon as the leader’s hand touched the wood, he was sucked into the wall. His followers become excited—not alarmed like they probably should have. One by one each of the men and women made shallow cuts on their palms, pressed their hands to the wooden wall, and disappeared into the ball of liquid with a giddy laugh. It was down to one young man who’d watched all his fellow travelers get sucked into the unknown. His faith wasn’t as strong as theirs but he did not want to be the only one left behind so he did the same as the others. The golden liquid seemed to bathe over him feeling smooth and silky as he, too, was sucked through the hole into the unknown.
-Entry from The Old God’s Text
Reid closed the book and stuffed it back into his bag that sat on the seat beside him. He was starting to realize that the gods were not as benevolent as they’ve been portrayed. They seemed to prey on humans, their need to believe in something and their desire to be apart of something bigger no matter the cost. That story left Reid shaken and he did not know how to process what he’d read. What was this Temple of Snow? Where did all those people end up? Did they ever make it home?
One of his graduate students—a young woman with brunette hair and clear hazel eyes—called his name, interrupting his spiraling thoughts. He gave her his attention and asked how could he help her. She wanted to know what exactly they were in search of for on this dig. He was quiet for so long that he was sure she thought he would not give her a response. He just needed a few moments to formulate his thoughts and give the best response. He did not want to raise alarm or unnecessary questions in his students.
“We are looking for old relics from the time the gods of Olith roamed these lands. Anything that looks like it could fit that should be collected.”
Reid turned his attention back towards the window, staring at nothing in particular as his anxieties and worries seemed to swirl around in his head, threatening to drown him.
Art by: Chase Henson
Story written by: Teralyn Mitchell