The Bone Shrines

One of the curious things found in roadside shrines, small chapels, and even some of the great cathedrals in Partum are the bone shrines. They are constructed of different materials, usually wood but sometimes stone (and rarely actual bones), but they always have the same general appearance. It is a skull wearing a bishop’s mitre atop a pile of bones. It isn’t a complete bone pile as a great number of the bones are missing. But the arrangement is always the same.

The legend behind the bone shrines is that they pay homage to a great bishop struck down by the forces of evil. Some versions of this tale have the bishop as an archbishop or even the patriarch, but the result is always the same. The bones are meant to represent a remembrance of virtue having suffered a setback. Here is the kicker, though; the bone shrines are almost never encountered in “virtuous” settings. They are seen in the wild wastes of Limbourg, throughout Lotharingia (where they are seen everywhere from the grandest churches to the tiniest roadside markers), and in the sinister backwater parishes of Fanolania and Geldenreich. They can also be spotted all over the Wenigzustand (including at least one of the great cathedrals of Ange Dechú). There is also the prevalence of these all over Forkanza where it is rumored that these first originated.

A telling sign that these shrines might not be all that they seem is that no order of paladins anywhere in Partum observes any worship or service dealing with the bone shrines. They are also viewed as sacrilege by druidic priests (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and shamans who will go out of their way to destroy any of these shrines that they might encounter. The source of this animosity is unclear and has never been satisfactorily documented. Clearly though the bone shrines are either a source of great spiritual comfort or anxiety depending on your point of view.