Letter 69

Athair mo ghràidh Herkus,

Do you remember the first time I used wildshape? I don’t think I was older than 12 summers at that time. I was gathering berries and got completely tangled in thorny vines. I kept calling for you and when you finally came over you folded your arms and tilted your head. I recall the conversation going something like this:

“What would you like me to do?”

“I want you to come in here help me get out! Aren’t you called Herkus the Helpful?!” I was crying and carrying on, and you simply sat on a log nearby and waited patiently for my fit to end.

“Ah well, what one considers helpful, another considers a hindrance.”

“If you give me that nonsense about a caterpillar and how a cocoon strengthens it’s wings so it can fly…”

You lit your pipe and looked at me with both kindness and mischief in your eyes. “Yes that is an applicable metaphor here, but I was thinking more along these lines. If I do as you say and leave this log and come over to you, I could also be ensnared. If that happens it would not serve you nor I very well. We would both be trapped with no one else to give us aid. Although I suppose we would both build more empathy as we would be in the same trap together.”

“You don’t have to just come over here! There are other ways you can help me!”

“Oh? But you didn’t say that. You said you wanted me to come in there to get you out.”

“But I meant in some way, not literally just that one way! Please this hurts!”

“That is the annoyance with traps my dear. More often than not we have to be very specific in how we set about our release. Some traps have a harmful magical or physical pushback that will occur if not approached correctly. So you must have clear reasoning, and think things through, or it could be made infinitely worse. What other ideas do you have?”

“Um…well… fire?”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Y-yes… I mean no. No. If I start a fire now other things could go wrong.”

“Indeed. You could get burned yourself. Other animals that depend on this environment might suffer, so on so forth. So what then?”

“I could cut away at it…But my arms are twisted wrong and I can’t reach my sickle. I could ask you to cut it.”

“Alas I am not very tall and I could not reach your arms to set them free. Even though I can use magic I am at my limit today so you would have to wait many more hours before I could do that for you. You have to consider my restrictions as well.”

“If I was small like you then I could maneuver better. I’m not sure how I could do that though. I’ve seen you become small animals but I don’t know how.”

“If you don’t know how to do something that is a true shame. If only there was a way for you to learn when you don’t know things.”

“Couldn’t you teach me? I mean… If I asked you… I mean… Will you teach me how to turn into a small animal so I can escape the vines?”

“Is that the solution you have decided upon? Have you thought it through? I warn you that your first wildshape is often uncomfortable. You’re body shifts and morphs using your own magical abilities and that within the soil of Eos. For a moment during this change you are you and yet not you. While it isn’t as potent mentally as a polymorph, it causes some individuals great distress. They choose to never do it again out of fear of losing themselves. Are you willing to potentially lose yourself even for a moment to get free?”

“Well, even if I was stuck in that form forever I would still be me. I would have a different body and a new set of challenges but I don’t think I would feel distressed in that regard. I would have you and possibly others to help me adjust I suppose. The chances of a permanent change are slim though.”

“True true… But I will advise you even though you didn’t ask, never gamble what you cannot afford. And never sacrifice something without full acknowledgement of what can or will be lost forever. Now with that said what is your resolve to gain freedom? And what will you do if it doesn’t work even after all your effort?”

“I think… with the knowledge I currently have… and the situation I am currently in… wildshape is my best option. If that does not work however, I’m not sure what I will do. You wont give me the answer I suppose?” You shook your head that no you would not. “Then would you at least stay with me while I try to figure it out and do your best to answer the questions I might have in the meantime?”

“That I absolutely can and will do.”

I was afforded an opportunity to try and set myself free from the vines I inherited. I wanted to find a way to rid myself of the pain while not trapping another here in this curse with me. I entered the pool of reincarnation in hopes that it would set me free, and knowing that this change was my best chance in this moment to do so. I was aware of what I was sacrificing, and I only gambled what I could afford. As I left the water, my body altered permanently this time, I did indeed have momentary regret as my four legs became two and I traded my height for wings. The reflection I see no longer looks like my mother but it does still look like me. Even if the form is that of a tiefling now.

My curse is not gone. I am still ensnared. So I ask you again, will you and others still stay with me as I try to figure out to how break it? Will you still help me find the answers to my questions in the meantime? I truly hope so.

gaol agus gràdh,