When presented with the opportunity by Eladria’s Miracle spell to speak with anyone of my choosing, I ask to speak with my mother. Eladria said nothing of my conversation needing to be with the living, and with death a constant threat, I need to know who I am.
Not knowing what to expect, I lie down to sleep and the world fades.
I wake in a strange place seemingly outside my body, this must be a dream.
A dense fog obscures anything beyond my immediate vision, and the only item with any clarity is the trunk of a very large and very old tree. I look closer and the trunk appears to be completely covered with carvings of differing ages and weathering. I do not know this tree, but recognize the symbols as having some significance in the back of my mind, even if their meaning escapes me.
A single symbol stands out, it is newer, and I remember seeing it painted on my Mother’s shawl when I was a young child. She would wrap me in it on especially cold nights when I had trouble sleeping. The closer I get, the more affinity I feel for this symbol and I reach out to touch it, or rather my mind reaches out to the symbol since I have no form that I can tell in this place, and it pulls me into it – space spins – loses shape – reforms.
I open my eyes and blink them reactively to the light in front of me. I have eyes to blink, looking down, and hands, I have form here.
- You have grown, and you fight for a purpose, even if not quite the same one we have fought for generations. You have much to learn, but I am proud.
I look up, and the light in front of me is a campfire, and on the other side looking at me appraisingly is a strong and wise seeming Bonuwat woman. A smile touches those knowing eyes – my mother.
- Can it really be you?
I am seated, but my muscles stress with tension as I wait her answer.
- It is I, my son. You have sought me out. I feared we would never be able to have this conversation, but Pulara and Shimye-Magalla have willed it so. For that I am grateful. I had hoped beyond hope that the line would not end with you, but I had to spirit you away to your father before you were old enough for me to guide you through the tree.
A tree? Realization washes over me.
- The tree of our ancestors?! I came through it, is that why I am here? Was that symbol a representation of you on the tree? Is each symbol another ancestor? Another generation?
She smiles in amusement and raises a hand to stall my unending stream of questions.
- You see true, my son. You visited the tree of our ancestors through some sort of astral projection, and using my sign as a focus, you are visiting me between worlds. This level of interaction is very rare even if I had been able to teach you about out ancestor-tree, and again I must thank Pulara and Shimye-Magalla for making this possible.
She makes a sign with her hand and presses her fingers to her lips before raising them to the sky in some sort of sign of thanks and praise.
- I am familiar with the Goddess Pulara, a powerful cleric named Eladria cast the spell making this encounter possible with the help of her divine magic, but who is this Shimye-Magalla you speak of?
She smiles, and settles her position in a way I recall from when she used to tell me stories.
- Shimye-Magalla is the goddess of our people. She gives us strength and we give respect and representation to her among the Jungle. Our tribe is…was, special among the Bonuwit. We are hunters of demons.
- Yes, you are a long way from our homelands, but it appears you have inadvertently been drawn to your family’s specialty. The jungle is a bountiful provider and teeming with life, but it is abused and it’s people threatened by demons and a violent civilization of demon worshippers known as the Bekyar. The Bekyar have no respect for the jungle and its gifts, and they regularly invade Bonuwit and other tribal lands, selling the people they don’t kill as slaves. Our people don’t have any sort of standing army, and moving en mass through the deep jungle would be a logistical nightmare anyway, but those of us from certain ancestry dedicate ourselves to living in smaller groups and function as a protective and offensive strike force for Shimye-Magalla’s jungle.
I sit back in awe.
- Incredible, I always remember a feeling of strength when thinking of you, but I never realized the breadth of your warrior spirit…
The edge of my vision begins to cloud.
- You will realize more than that my son.
My vision continues to vaporize, and my mother begins to fade.
- No! I’m not ready! I just got you back!
The vanishing image of my mother stands.
- I love you my son, and I know you will make us proud. Follow the line, follow the symbols, see through the eyes of our ancestors and know our strength, know our story.
- Follow the signs!
Reality spins – form vanishes – an image coalesces
A line flows from her sign, instinct makes me follow it to more symbols, one stands out – my formless self spins in…
I wake from my deep sleep, the world feels real, or at least familiar again. My mother stays strong in my mind, but my time walking through the lives of my ancestors is already beginning to fade from my memory. I lived 10 lives, 50, 100, the number fades but the strength and resolve their experiences has given me remains.
The memory of my mother is staying with me, the strength of Shimye-Magalla is with me…Shimye-Magalla…yes – I grab my great-club and run my hands over the many symbols carved into its surface – What has just been a meaningless heirloom now reads like a book – prayers to Shimye-Magalla, names of its previous wielders – I now know the most recent name on it to be that of my grandfather, Rhuarc, and an incredibly old carving representing a distant aasimar ancestor named Chaendaer – and totems to friendly protector spirits of the jungle.
The memories of my ancestors lives have subsided, I am fully myself once more. A long drink from my water skin tastes better than the sweetest wine. Every breath is exhilarating. My new armor? The symbols of Iomedae, they are morphing.
Shimye-Magalla, she is with me…symbols of the jungle are mixed with the Leaves of Gozreh, and Butterflies of Desna live under its canopy. I have my purpose, I have direction, I have a warmth within me…my mother, she is with me…Shimye-Magalla, she is with me.