Laros of Darnal Valley
"The shrine is a peaceful center of the Darnal Valley. It is separate from mess of politics that seems to absorb the time and thoughts of those in the south and north. It is free from the thoughts of existence affecting those in the east and west. Laros is simply there. It is a place to exist, marveling in the seasonal beauty. No one who comes here could think the same again..."The Shrine of Laros was founded after she appeared to the first abbess, Marnor, in the year 1200 AC. The site has gradually expanded over the years, becoming an extensive garden and pilgrimage site. The shrine is there for the study of nature and healing of the natural world. Although seemingly undefended, it is ill advised to enter the shrine with thoughts of fire and pillaging. There is only one building in the shrine, a giant construction formed from the trunks of numerous trees that have grown together to form a roof and walls with flowering vines covering them all. In the center of this cathedral stands the sapling of silver, planted by Laros herself, whose sap, it is said, is sweeter than the sweetest syrup and provides hope to all who visit. The tree is only tapped once a year and the sap is expensive to purchase, if it is even for sale. The priests and priestesses save the sap mainly for pilgrims to carry back with them and only small quantities at that. The only other immediately apparent feature in the shrine is the ever burning pyre. Formed from a flame constantly devouring a patch of shrubs, this light blue fire is where many of the valley’s dead are brought to bring them on to the next life.An account by a traveler along the path from the shrine.
Willow Greenleaf: Half Dryad, Half Gnome Abbess of the Shrine of LarosWhile wandering the gardens, giant flowers and plants on all sides, you see a woman step out of a giant willow tree ahead of you. As she gets closer she looks less and less humanoid, vines for hair, leaves growing off of her skin and eyes of sheer black pools. She walks straight past but her connection to the garden and power within it radiate off as you stand back. Willow Greenleaf is highly introverted and proud, standing apart in any gathering and not addressing those around her as she tends to the gardens and Silver Sapling. She never approaches the pilgrims that visit, leaving that to the younger priests and priestesses. When she does need to intervene though, her displeasure, particularly against those with less love of nature in their hearts, can be easily seen in the spiked vines that inch out from her.
Purpose / Function
This shrine is the only temple within the southern portion of the Darnal Valley. It provides the inhabitants with spiritual guidance but also a place to offer sacrifices for good harvests and fruitful bounty. Laros, being the Goddess of life, provides a center for the largely agriculture based inhabitants of the valley.
Since its initial creation, very little has physically changed. The boundaries of the gardens have been extended a few times and the trees keep growing but life comes and it goes. Little is left behind to show of the passing as the decomposers go to work.
The shrine itself is formed of several interwoven oak trees. A single spruce tree stands in the center, shielding the entire structure from the weather. Flowers grow in abundance in the front and provide a beautiful fragrance year round. The gardens surrounding the shrine include many paths created from white river stones. These are then surrounded by hedges and flower beds. A few meditation ponds are located around the shrine. Nearly any species of wild animal can be found here, all of which do one no harm within the shrine's boundaries.