Mother

Day of Verdant Sun, Inalis, 52 days remaining

Is it weird that I already miss Sa’kull? I was trying to rest up before we gathered again. Shadow wanted to have a little celebration, and I’m inclined to agree. So here I sat, hanging back quietly in the medical bay, bandaging up my arm, when it suddenly struck me. I might never see Sa’kull again. I know I’m not his mother, but it felt like it for a while there. He was only with us for… what? Ten days? Eleven days? The child means the world to me. I felt like I was paying it forward to a degree when Mother took care of me at the temple. I care very deeply for him. Is it weird that I do? He looked so helpless and sad back at that slaver’s tent, and when I said goodbye, he hugged me. I mean, sure, he bit me, too. But it would have been odd if he hadn’t, right?

Would I make a good mother? Or father? For changelings, I don’t know the word. “Parent” seems too… I don’t know. Informal? I wonder, Heath. You wanted children, but I was afraid. I guess if the High Priest is to be believed, I cannot be a mother anyway. But I wonder if I could father a child? Certain parts of my anatomy don’t exist when I’m appearing as a particular gender. I was in the form of a girl when he did that to me. But what does it matter? I’ve already decided that I’m going to fix myself. As soon as I can get the strength from Kiora to cast a regeneration spell, I’m fixing all of these scars and injuries. By that time, I’ll already be healed of the emotional scars anyway. I mean, look at me now! I’m super strong, invincible, and-

Heh. Maybe not. But I certainly feel better lately. I’m a work in progress, and I’m at peace with that.

It was mostly housekeeping that kept us busy as we sailed away from Fire Island while the sun began to set. The crew was a little shocked at our new companions, Sel-Makor and Steros, but they were welcomed well enough. Sel-Makor chose to stay on the top deck, but Steros was not given the option. Large as he is, I’m afraid he doesn’t really fit down below, so Briar offered to bring him dinner up there. Clio spent some time with Reilana, who had finally come above deck to get some fresh air, and later Clio went back downstairs to the library to research some of those runes we saw on the altar on Fire Island. I meant to go with her, but Mikhael stopped me. Did I talk about him yet? He was a sailor from Ylisse that was captured by the League of Storms, and we rescued him from the Isle of Yonder. He and I talked about Ylisse briefly before Mikhael mentioned he was seeking his ship. The hurricane from the Lord of Storms wrecked it, but Mikhael is convinced it has not sunk to the bottom of the Cerulean Sea. I sent him to Ilos to see if they could figure out where that happened.

The others talked briefly about how to approach the island of the Amazons before Shadow broke out the more spirited drinks and began passing them around. Briar was so excited! She had made cups for all of us out of planks of wood she had been lifting from Ilharg’s supplies. Bless her, they’re very interesting (though I’m afraid mine leaks a little). I also got gifted a spoon, though mine is more akin to a ladle. While we were happily resting, we got an urgent message to meet Malikos on the deck.

Ahead of us, the navigator spotted an island. It wasn’t on any maps, and it appeared to be moving slightly. In the dimming light of the sunset, we at first assumed this to be an error. Sure enough, there appeared to be a small island just off the port side that appeared to be moving amongst the waves. I quickly divined that it would be fine to visit it, and we began to sail and row towards the mysterious island.

Briar and Shadow decided to scout ahead. Briar transformed into a magnificent eagle and picked up Shadow. Before the left, Clio did something I didn’t know she could do: she put a flower on Shadow and could use it to hear what he and Briar say. That way she would be able to relay that information to us while we followed. What a brilliant idea! Anyway, they approached from the air and saw some people gathered amidst some old buildings and greenery on the small island. They both recognized the creature that they thought was an island to be a gigantic dragon turtle. Briar spoke to its mind and asked if we could dock with it, and the turtle happily let us so long as we were careful of her children. It turns out there were probably half a dozen smaller dragon turtles swimming along with their mother.

Briar and Shadow returned and helped guide us amongst the dragon turtles until we docked with the turtle island. We met many people here. There were a few sea elves and tritons, none of which spoke any language we knew. Some travelers from Novarra were here, too, and they mostly kept to themselves. Some merfolk were here too. I was surprised by their presence. Not that their presence itself surprised me, but by the fact that it surprised everyone else with me. I’m in a place of magic and myth, and somehow my companions are surprised by the merfolk. One merman spoke common well enough to say hello and invited us to wander around the “World Turtle”, the name given to the large creature beneath our feet.

While Rendu opted to stay with the crew, and Actaeon and Torag were still recovering from their injuries, the rest of us went amongst the people. Though we shared no language, they were very kind! Their speech, according to the merman, was a watery form of some primordial language, and it sounded more like gurgling than anything. I imagine it sounds better underwater. Clio saw some nereids, water nymphs from the deep sea, and went to say hello. Briar went with her but mostly just looked awkward. Shadow and I went to meet with a large man named Shazum. Shazum was a merchant and claimed to follow the World Turtle between realms, selling treasures to anyone willing to part with a little gold.

So…

I might have gotten a little carried away. Shazum just looked so polite, and I couldn’t help it! He had a lot of really useful things, and I had to buy some stuff, right? He had a few potions for sale so I bought some of those. And he had a really cool magic wand that makes super-heated fog. How wouldn’t I use something like that? And Shazum also had a really cool shield that I wanted. But Shadow was trying to be more guarded with our money. That makes sense, I guess, but… Maybe I’ll draw a picture of this shield, Heath. It’s so cool! It has fish on it that swim around, and they have some focusing magic in them.

I was out of money, so I borrowed Shadow’s cloak and went to Clio. Clio keeps the purse, you see. I quickly put on a Shadow disguise to try to convince Clio to lend me some money, but I guess she saw through the ruse pretty fast. Also, Shadow was standing directly behind me. I didn’t think he was going to follow me! Fortunately, Shadow is a good father who buys his child anything they want, and he bought me the shield. YES!

Oh, Shadow! I almost forgot! He got distracted super fast. While Shazum was showing me his wares, he offhandedly mentioned one of his tridents had gone missing. Shadow grew instantly suspicious of everyone around him and saw a small crab scuttling about. He tackled it and missed! Clio, sensing something was amiss, quickly grappled the crab with her mind and POOF! The crab became a water girl! Briar recognized the magic as a druidic wildshape immediately. Her name was Kyma and she was from an underwater city of water genasi, somewhere down below us. She had come up to the World Turtle to escape her uncle. No, it’s not quite like that. Her uncle is very protective and she just wanted some time away from home.

We saw this as an opportunity. The Dragonlords need allies to defend the Emerald Isles, and Kyma seemed nice enough. She offered to take us to her uncle, Yfalos, on the condition that we don’t tell him that we met her on the World Turtle. I hastily agreed but Shadow was more careful. Eventually we agreed and dove underwater (with some magical help from Kyma).

What a lovely city! As the sun set in the world above us, the world down here under water is beautiful! Words scarcely describe it. Everything is lit up by some bioluminescence, and there are shades of pink, blue, and purple all around us. The water genasi have a wonderful home down here and they were very welcoming. Master Yfalos was pleased to have us here and quickly pledged his support of Ellandyr in the upcoming war against the titans.

To our surprise, Yfalos and the water genasi have kept a long and ancient history of the Emerald Isles, some of which he shared with us. We asked him about Rzhal, the one beneath the volcano on Fire Island, and he told us a sad story. Rzhal is one of the siblings of the twin titans, and a child of Eos and U’atu. Long ago, Eos had grown weary of the wars between the gods and sought to escape. U’atu the Hundred Handed was a warmonger who found his anger quelled by her quiet dignity and left with her, but the sins of his wars followed him wherever they went. Eos, for a time joyous in her solitude with U’atu, eventually succumbed to her despair as the gods continued to rage against her mate. She sacrificed herself in her despair and let her body become what is now the Emerald Isles. The Isles were separated from the rest of Xerender by her children, the titans. These titans had divine sparks in them, and these sparks made a barrier that kept their world safe.

Sadly, two of their children, the twins Amalj’aa and Khar’shan, were greedy. They sought the sparks of the others and to subjugate the people who inhabited the islands. As they slew their brothers and sisters, the veil between the Emerald Isles and the rest of Xerender grew thin, enough so that people like the First Order of the Dragonlords and even myself could cross over.

Perhaps this is Amalj’aa’s ultimate goal: to break the seal between the realms. If that were to happen, then the ancient gods and the gods of Xerender would return for vengeance against U’atu, and the Emerald Isles would be utterly destroyed, sinking beneath the waves forevermore. But should this happen, Amalj’aa could leave the Emerald Isles and lay a claim over Ylisse or the rest of the world. His coming would be disastrous.

As it stands now, the barrier remains through the power of the Five Immortals. When the Oath of Peace comes to an end, the power of the Five will be no more. There is only one course of action that we must take to save everyone: Amalj’aa, Khar’shan, and now U’atu must be destroyed. If U’atu is defeated, the anger of the primordial gods will be quelled and the Emerald Isles will become a permanent part of Xerender.

As for Rzhal, he is the surviving child of Mother Eos and U’atu. He escaped the twins and fled to tunnels without number underneath Fire Island. But the twins caught him there. U’atu himself forbade the twins from slaying Rzhal, too, so instead they closed him off from the world, sealing him away, and teaching the ancestors of Fire Island the magic to keep him sealed.

We thanked Yfalos for the knowledge and bade him farewell. When the time comes, he promised that the water genasi would stand with us and fight the titans. It is too kind of him to offer this, knowing how the odds are stacked against us.

The story is hard to bear. When we kill the twins, U’atu will awaken and seek revenge for the death of his children. The prophesy of the Oracle says that we will see this war to the end. But what end? Not only do we have to fight against two gods, but now one of the primordial ones from before the foundations of the world? How can we do this?

But I will not despair. I don’t know enough about prophecies or legends or anything like that. All I know is what is at stake. The very future of all of Xerender is. And we must protect it. I will protect it. For the sake of Mother, for Sa’kull, or my friends, and for all who live in this world.

Wow! That sounded very heroic! If I survive all of this, I might have to write that part in bold letters or something~