Of Magnolias and Fireweed

The world watched with anxious uncertainty over the cocoon of light bearing the Lady Li-varili within Daeiv ma’Mornhai, resting upon the healing mound of Lantra, the Empyreal. Taking on the solemn duty that the Hamadhi had borne within the Elder Wars, Lantra tirelessly focused Her energies upon healing the grave wounds that had been inflicted on the Lady of the Lagoons in the aftermath of the Eye of Dynara’s shattering. However, these were not the only scars the unconscious Goddess bore, for the marks of the Morokeche Seat remained fresh upon Her body and mind alike.

Mortals from every corner of the Basin of Life beseeched the Empyreal Goddess with pleas to assist in Her healing, until one day, She presented such a method for all who wished to partake in it, including those who had been part of the Bloodtide Coven: Lantra summoned forth the inherent healing power of Daeiv ma’Mornhai to manifest as misty wisps of healing light, which flickered into existence and kept guard upon this sacred place. A ritual could be performed by any who wished to by plucking one of the white magnolias that radiated healing power from the mound on which Li-varili laid in repose, empowering it with the power of the wisps and then offering its power to assist the Hamadhi in Her task.

Many months passed as mortals took on this solemn mantle, and slowly, changes began to reveal themselves upon the slumbering Elder Goddess as Li-varili began to stir and dream. No longer did She rest on the precipice of life and death, for as Her body began to become more hale and whole, Her mind slowly began to wake as well. First unaware of what was being done to Her, the injured Goddess began to dream vividly of the restraints of the Morokeche Seat, frantic concern for the lost Sea Spirit, and the thousands of years of pain She had endured. Fear gripped Her, and all those who assisted in Her healing witnessed its raw potency.

As the ritual continued in the following months, however, Li-varili’s dreams shifted, becoming more self-aware. The dreams reflected deep bitterness towards Lantra for keeping Li-varili restrained during Her healing, for even though Her body was gaining strength, the Hamadhi had yet to address the wounds buried deep in the Awakener’s psyche. Many began to doubt the Empyreal’s intentions as they witnessed the Lady of the Lagoons’ anger, or questioned Lantra’s right to heal the mental anguish that plagued a Goddess who seemed so attached to Her own suffering. Long debates raged before the healing mound, discussing if the magnolias were truly a method for healing, or merely a beautiful prison of slumber that kept Li-varili from interfering with the search of the Sea Spirit.

Meanwhile, within the shelter of the mangrove trees in Rhizoda, two nereids long thought missing resurfaced, their bitter arguments powerful enough to incite the bromeliads of their Goddess’s tree – and reach out to those who bore a bromeliad in kind, marking Her favour. A scattered collection of members of Her Bloodtide Coven gathered before Iaira and Oinone, smaller than before yet no less compelled to see what they might do, each for their own reasons.

As the storms raged overhead, their bickering died down, and they instead turned to the mortals for help. As fae, they felt their connection to their Awakener strongly, and they sensed the Lady Lantra’s work was succeeding – indeed, they believed the Lady of the Lagoons fully healed, observing nothing physically wrong through their bond to Her. One person posed the question of Her mind, as She had been dreaming deeply and seemed yet unwell, which agitated both nereids. Would your mind not continue to crack, they reasoned, if you were healed and still held prisoner?

Each had a plan they believed to be greater than the other’s, and they were powerfully united in their desire to see theirs succeed over the other. Oinone was certain that weaving a bracelet of fireweed – which their Lady draped Herself in often – and the teeth of Her trench monsters would encourage Her to break free of Lady Lantra’s cocoon. Iaira noted that many nereids of Rhizoda had taken to moping. She believed convincing them to partake of the she’nasim instead would best redirect their energy, and that finding Spirit Sea while punishing Her enemies would rouse her Mother at last.

Though the nereids spoke over one another and begged for help for them alone, the Coven aided both, first gathering the corpses and blossoms Oinone required, which she preserved before diving to the Goddess’s Fulcrux. There she waited, busying herself by carving into the terrifying beasts. Then they spoke with those forlorn nereids swimming listlessly through Rhizoda’s waters, seducing them with promises of the she’nasim’s power before leading them into the enchanted lagoon. One nereid unveiled a fossilised conch shell she had secreted away, giving it over wordlessly to the Coven, which then gave it to Iaira in turn.

Struck by an idea, Iaira followed the Coven to the lagoon once more, where she drew upon her powerful enchantments in ritual, cracking through the hardened sediment and transforming the conch into something new, superior, and – most importantly – useful.

She, too, journeyed to Li-varili’s Fulcrux, where she taunted and mocked Oinone’s bracelet-making efforts, promising they would fail even as Oinone completed her work and made her offering. And fail the blithesome one did, to everyone’s great disappointment.

Undaunted, Oinone plotted and planned within the Fulcrux alongside Iaira. Both relentlessly strove to awaken the Awakener as Her dreams grew more powerful – as the barrier between Her and the waking world thinned.