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Vedasto's Curse: The Champion

Lorenzo learns the truth behind the revered Vedasto and vows to right the wrongs of his ancestors and appease the Goddess of Plenty.

By Eloise Robertson Published 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 10 min read
1

Lorenzo’s calloused thumbs trace the intricate reeded border of the golden coin. The reflection of the sun beams into his tired eyes while he kneels before the fountain. For generations the coin has traded pockets from his great-grandfather to finally be Lorenzo’s boon, however it would be an heirloom no longer. Feelings of guilt are defeated by desperation, and Lorenzo grips the coin with a steely resolve. Despair has run him ragged, stolen his youthfulness; the boy has the burdens of a man, and the scars of one too.

Glowing beneath the afternoon sun, the alabaster statue stands tall upon the fountain’s pedestal. The god’s face is turned up toward the sky and its fist raised in triumph. The great Vedasto’s will and spirit are as immovable as the stone statue itself.

Lorenzo bends his head, his dark hair sticking to the sweat across his forehead, and brings the coin to his lips as if Vedasto would better hear his wish.

“I beg of you, heal my mother. Let her breathe easily again. Let her walk the streets once more. Let her smile again. Let her live.”

The weight of the coin leaving his hand is replaced by the crushing pressure of shame upon his shoulders. If all he can do is throw a prized heirloom into a fountain to save his mother, what good is he to her?

Quiet whispers draw Lorenzo’s attention to the opposite side of the fountain. With dark, sunken eyes and exhaustion set into her bones, the visitor is much a reflection of him. “Great Vedasto, please protect my little brother. Please, please…”

Barely aware of Lorenzo’s presence, the girl gazes pleadingly up at Vedasto’s face, hands wringing her crumpled, dirty dress. She dips her head in a respectful, silent prayer.

“The gods brought this plague upon us and you think Vedasto is going to help you? Ha! He would steal that precious coin straight from your pathetic little fingers before you could even stutter a plea for help.”

Lorenzo’s heart twists with anguish. It takes all his conscious effort not to confront the crone and demand her to leave. His mother raised him to respect his elders, but this lady is different. A creature of pitiful habits, everyone has a story of the woman pestering people at Vedasto’s fountain. Even Lorenzo’s grandfather told stories of her.

“That’s right, you had better run! Praying to a mere man… the true gods would be ashamed of you. Death and ruin befall those who betray the gods, Vedasto would know.” The woman’s lips pull back into a grimace as she watches the girl retreat down the steps and away from view. “Perhaps you really are loyal to Vedasto, if you would be unfaithful to the gods. What a world you have left in your wake, old man.”

“Who are you calling old?” Lorenzo says quietly, a bitter taste in his mouth. “Vedasto will be eternally watching over your grave soon.”

“Foolish boy, what do you expect him to see while he is stuck standing in this fountain?” The woman’s lips curl back to reveal her small crooked teeth.

“I - I beg your pardon. May I speak openly?” Lorenzo asks, bowing his head while biting his tongue.

“Who am I to stop you otherwise?” She sounds sarcastic. Her eyes narrow.

“Vedasto is greater than you and me. He is more than a mere statue. He is all-seeing, all-knowing.”

A sly smile stretches the wrinkles off her face. “If he was all knowing, he would have known that the gods would curse him, a mere man, for stealing their gold. The only people more foolish than Vedasto himself are those who trust him.”

The golden coins sparkle at the bottom of the clear water’s surface, shimmering in the sunlight. It’s as if the god stands atop a golden mountain, fist raised as a display of power, like a conqueror who has just won the spoils of war. Lorenzo circles the fountain, appraising the statue.

“Cursed, you say? This doesn’t depict a curse.”

The boy runs his fingers along the edge of the stone fountain, admiring the craftsmanship, putting distance between the old lady and himself as she perches on a nearby bench.

“The issue isn’t with the fountain, the problem is with the eyes viewing it. Come here, so you will see it clearly.”

Her cane hits the top of the low wall which backs into her seat and borders the courtyard. Lorenzo eyes the cane cautiously, gauging the woman’s menace before obliging her. Atop the wall, he peers across at the face of the statue. From here, the fury and disgust etched into the stone face is clear… Vedasto shakes his fist angrily at the skies above.

A cynical laugh rattles through the woman’s chest. “For stealing the gods' golden tokens, Vedasto was cursed to stone, and they spread the coins across the lands, lost to any one person’s greed. Despite their efforts, the coins are returned to the thief.”

A pang of fear lances Lorenzo’s heart. Had he offended the gods? The boy is desperate to earn their favour for his mother’s sake. The old woman clicks her tongue as another passerby drops a valued coin into the fountain.

“You sure know a lot about Vedasto, lady,” Lorenzo glances at her tangled dark grey hair from atop the wall. “If what you say is true, where did Vedasto take the coins from?”

“Ah, someone with some sense, finally. You may have heard of the Goddess of Gods, the Queen of the Divine, the Goddess of Plenty, the Giver.”

“Pletora, of course I know of her. My father would pray to her for more trade, and my mother would pray to her for more love and happiness.”

The lady nods approvingly. “Goddess Pletora is the provider of health, wealth, food… she gives. When a man took from her, she took from him. She has taken from all of us. Humankind has lost her favour. Pletora’s cornucopia rests in the grove nestled in the forest in Facille Valley. If you want your mother to survive the sickness, you need to ask Pletora, not this betrayer,” she slugs a globule of saliva at the base of the fountain, glaring at Vedasto.

For each coin surrendered to the water, a person dies. Nobody has yet survived the sickness. Lorenzo swallows the lump in his throat as he realises the truth: that nobody will live. He drops from the stone wall and paces a while before coming to rest by the fountain’s edge.

“If we have lost her favour, how can I possibly restore it?” Lorenzo’s voice sounds small.

The elder leans forward, her beady eyes looking pointedly at the coins. “Return that which was stolen from her.”

Brows knitting into a frown, Lorenzo inspects the hoard of treasure sitting in the middle of their village. Even if he could carry them all, what if he angers Vedasto? What if… he dooms his family?

“Vedasto is no god,” the vehemence usually colouring her tone is gone, replaced with forlorn sadness. “He was only a man who broke the trust of the gods. I have been trapped on this material plain watching humans throw my mother’s tokens at him, mistake after mistake after mistake…”

Terror grips Lorenzo and locks his muscles in place as he stares at the shimmering water, listening to the being behind him speak.

“Learn from your ancestor’s mistakes, right the wrongs, and return the tokens to Pletora’s cornucopia. Otherwise, the gods will damn you all until there is nobody left but me. We all have a punishment for what was done.”

As she speaks, her voice loses its crackle and becomes smooth like honey. An ethereal reverberation in her voice rattles Lorenzo’s bravery. His heart pounds behind his chest, his mouth is dry, and he can’t bring himself to move.

“Vedasto didn’t accept his fate, but I accept mine willingly. To walk the earth forevermore, barred from returning to where I once belonged. Justice, they called it. For I was blind to Vedasto’s intentions, so too would everyone be blind to mine.”

“What - what are your intentions?” The words are wispy and breathless, Lorenzo wonders if she can even hear him.

“You heard what I said?” she asks incredulously. “You heard it all? My voice? Finally. My punishment must be coming to an end. Boy, my intentions are to save your skinny hide and return balance by soothing Pletora’s wounds. I can’t return to her, but I can tell you how to reach her grove.”

Her dress rustles when she moves from the bench to stand by Lorenzo. As he turns his head to look at her, she snaps, “Stop!”

The air catches in his throat while he waits for her sweet voice again, staring at her smooth sandalled feet. Her hand reaches down, dainty fingers holding a golden coin of her own for Lorenzo to take. When he does, his hand brushes against hers. The contact sends an electrifying feeling of strength through the boy: boundless vitality, confidence of invincibility. Her skin is flawless and soft, missing the wrinkles she held a moment ago.

“It’s been a long time since I have had a blessing such as this and I don’t want you to ruin it, so don’t look at me.”

Every inch of his being wants to look up and gaze upon the undoubtedly beautiful woman the crone has transformed into, but he rivets his eyes onto her coin instead. The inscription forms an unfamiliar word with familiar lettering, a word on the tip of his tongue yet entirely unknown to him.

“Bring the coin bearing my name with you and deliver it to my mother’s grove for me. That way, she will know I helped make amends for my wrongs.”

Lorenzo clutches the coin in his fist and kneels before the lady, head bowed in deference. With newfound purpose and strength, he eyes the coins submerged in the water and despite knowing he can’t possibly carry it all himself, he is convinced of guaranteed success. Having touched the skin of a former goddess, he is assured he can be her champion.

“I promise I will deliver this to Pletora’s cornucopia.”

“Travel West for nine days to reach the Gois Forest, and climb Mount Juyper. On the other side is Facille Valley. Trace the yellow flowers to the river, and follow it to the lake. You will find Pletora.”

Her feet disappear from sight as she leaves Lorenzo to his fate. Soon enough all the boy can hear is his heartbeat hammering in his ears. Gradually he uncurls his fist with stiff fingers to look again at the inscription. He can’t read it. On the obverse side, the face of perfected beauty pressed into the coin looks at him, eyes piercing his soul and stealing his breath away.

“Is she gone?”

Lorenzo’s head snaps up, ready to launch at the eavesdropper, to leap in defense of his lady… and stops. The girl who had dropped her coin into the fountain earlier approached cautiously, eyes wide with fear.

“She - she changed - she isn’t - she -”

Tears spill over her high cheekbones and splatter the stone pavement. Her small chest heaves as she hyperventilates, hands shaking, big brown eyes looking at Lorenzo desperately. The boy stands and rests his hands on the girl's shoulders, squeezing gently. He doesn’t say anything, only squeezes in time with her breathing and gradually slows, training her breaths to his hands.

“My coin. I gave it to a thief. I can’t let my brother die for my mistake! Please, let me come with you.”

The girl is frail, hardly an asset to the quest, but Lorenzo can’t refuse. She had seen his lady’s true form, and is marked for this destiny just as he is.

“We will save them,” Lorenzo smiles. “All of them. My name is Lorenzo.”

“I’m Chiara.”

Hope sparkles in her eyes where there was none to be found before, mirroring Lorenzo, the boy who would redeem humanity.

Adventure
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About the Creator

Eloise Robertson

I pull my ideas randomly out of thin air and they materialise on a page. Some may call me a magician.

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  • Mark Graham2 months ago

    This is quite the epic story of family, love, and friendship in how we could solve our issues, maybe.

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