In the glow after the splintering of the Goddess Li-varili, many groups of Her shards, called the livari, rested lost and confused in the Basin of Life. They had fallen out of the Divine Havens to break free of Li-varili’s prison. And yet, in doing so, they had also exiled themselves forever from the Divine realms and come to share the fate of all who were shards of the Elders.
The livari were now mortal, subject to time and decay.
The Divine, after some confusion, concluded Their judgment of Li-varili. For to Them, Li-varili had perished in the splintering, and now in many shards, She would die a thousand more deaths – a fitting punishment, according to Some. And the mortals, who had just witnessed the first splintering in modern times, also stood in bewilderment and awe, trying to make sense of the momentous event, wondering who and what these shards would come to be.
In the midst of the wonder and confusion, the voice of Lanikai, the Sea Hag, rang out to the world: she and her kelpies would take the matter into their own hands, to help the newborn livari to heal and to cope with their mortal status. To this end, Lanikai gave those willing to help some charms fashioned once upon a time by the Elders Carakhan and Keltari Themselves. The charms, Lanikai said, were intended to remind the Goddess Li-varili, and now the mortal livari, that “love takes many shapes, and Theirs, for Her, was deep as the seas They shared.” So Lanikai hoped the charms would draw the livari hither when given.
At the same time, visions encompassing sight, scent, and sound arose before the former Goddess’s chosen who bore Her bromeliad blooms, drawing them to Li-varili’s secret vault. Oinone and the nereids were convinced that Lady Li-varili must have had Her own plan, of which the splintering was a part. And so, in counter to the kelpies’ plans, the select faithful of Li-varili set out to gather their own livari to safety.
A race began, born out of a sense of urgency, to gather and protect the livari before the other side would hurt them or claim them for their own. And yet, despite the rush and hubbub of the search, some mortals nonetheless stopped to learn more about the strange new shards of the former Goddess.
Eritheyl of Gaudiguch found a group of livari in the Northern Mountains and took them for a detour to the City of Freedom. The new shards were noted to be of many genders and appearances, differing in their tropical colourations and teardrop or sea-spray markings. Their hands were webbed, covered in scales that glittered like gems. They bore long, luxurious locks framing beautiful, intense visages, much like their Goddess of origin, and they spoke and acted as one, each believing themself to be Li-varili in the flesh. At times they talked and acted clearly together, and at other times they mumbled in word and action, as if they were affected by the doings of other shards from across the world – all still attempting to act in unison as the Goddess they once were. The mortals of Gaudiguch, including Eritheyl, Kihr, Coraline, and Arix, tried without avail to explain to the livari the intricacies of mortalhood, but the disoriented livari vacillated between denial and disbelief, preferring to stick to their own devices, before finally agreeing to follow the charm from Lanikai, for it had been once made by the Elder Keltari, close to Li-varili’s heart.
Hiresh of Serenwilde paused before another group of livari in the Tar Pits east of Serenwilde. Led by curiosity, she asked the livari who they were, and she received a similar response: “I am Li-varili, of course.” Hiresh attempted to engage the livari further, but was rebuffed again by the shards who insisted in unison that they were still the Goddess from which they came. Other mortals came to hear the newborn shards speak, including Xiran, Tyrus, and Qistrel of Serenwilde, and Luce of Hallifax. But before they could continue the conversation, Uzriel of Magnagora arrived. He bore an Opal Tear, reminiscent of the many other Tears that Li-varili had once shed. These Tears were Her last, hidden tears shed for Her nereids upon Her return, and held by them in reverence until now. Offering the Tear to the livari, Uzriel drew their attention and led them away to the care of Oinone, much to the dismay of Hiresh and her companions, who had so many more questions.
The two factions competed neck to neck to bring the livari to their chosen havens, each attempting to move faster, run quicker. But a final group of three livari, wandering the Undervault, had their own ideas.
Xenthos of Glomdoring first tried to draw the three livari away with a charm from the kelpie Lanikai, but they resisted, asking him why they should follow. He, along with Illyria, Gael, Siam, Evette and Esei of Glomdoring, and Cheliyi of Celest, soon learned from those livari that they chafed still at the illusion of options given to them. They asked, with great scepticism, “Do I get the choice? Or are you going to make it for me again?” They had made their own choice in splintering, they said, and they would make their own choice now: Xenthos might have claimed he gave Li-varili the idea of splintering, the idea was Hers, lit by the spark She had seen in Ein’s eyes, and the choice was Her own.
And so a lively conversation ensued, and after some time, despite their misgivings, the last livari warmed towards taking the offer of Lanikai, to find refuge among the kelpies.
It was at this moment, however, that Mirae of Magnagora entered the conversation, followed quickly by Uzriel and Sapphira of Magnagora and Calfuray of Serenwilde. Like Xenthos, Uzriel attempted an offering to sway the livari – the Opal Tear – but to no avail. Turning to speech, Uzriel, Sapphira and Calfuray then brought all their persuasion to bear, urging the livari to reconsider. They reminded the shards that they had once been a Goddess, that She had once called the nereids Her children, so why not return to the nereids? They asked the livari to remember all the hurts and losses that Li-varili had experienced for uncountable years. To remember, to hold on, to not lose their former Self. And the livari, their minds turning, did remember.
The firstcomers, now joined by Tridemon of Celest and Lorina of Hallifax, redoubled their efforts, encouraging the livari to turn away from their past, to cast aside the memories of Li-varili’s trauma and to become something new. Why remember the pain? Why relive centuries of torture? Some among them continued to suggest the livari go to Lanikai’s kelpies for healing. But a few others suggested simply that the livari do what they wish: they are mortal now, and as mortals, they may choose to be who they wish to be.
Overwhelmed, the livari stood in turmoil, wrestling through their emotions and thoughts as discussion rose and fell around them. Finally, the last unclaimed livari raised their voices. They spoke in unison, but they also spoke as themselves: “I want neither.” “I want only Me.” “Only me.” “Neither Lanikai nor Oinone. Neither forgiveness nor forgetting. Just me. Just Me and the entire world.” And then, they tossed aside charm and Tear, and they turned to walk away into the darkness. They would make their own choices.
The mortals, bemused, returned each to their factions: some to the nereids in Li-varili’s vault, others to the kelpies under the Inner Sea. They had claimed the shards of Li-varili for each their own: to hide away, to heal, shaping the futures of these now disparate populations of a new mortal race.
Below the waves, the secret vault of Li-varili rumbled and churned at Oinone’s command, sealing the hidden livari away, even from Li-varili’s chosen mortals. With great conviction, the nereid proclaimed that one day, the Lady of Lagoons would rise again. Unfazed, Lanikai, too, retreated with her kelpies under the crashing waves. She assured the mortals that the kelpies would do all they can to offer succour and support as their livari come to learn what it is to be mortal.
Heavy with their loss and yet hopeful at Oinone’s triumph, Lady Li-varili’s former followers gathered at Her fulcrux, only to find that Her vivid lagoon had dried, Her bromeliads had withered, and Her shrine had cracked and splintered. But the Rhizoda Mangrove, beloved of the Goddess, remains, as do the nereids. As do the kelpies.
And in that moment, many, Divine and mortal, paused and wondered: what will become of the livari, shards of Li-varili – shards of the Goddess who had taken a bet against all odds and both perished and survived?
In the turning of the years, who will the livari choose to be?