So I have a secret. I go to regular D&D meetings. I liked it there a lot. We get to act up our characters, and it's a way to get out of the real world. May character, Tunde, is a little complicated and has attachment problems. He had gotten our campaign in serious danger several times, and I was asked to write a story to elaborate on his youth in a way that would explain his complications. I came up with this story. I like it a lot, and thought I'd share it with you.
It was an unlikely union that was at the origin of Tunde; a lonesome water genasi treading lightly on the threads that separate the planes and unite the races. His is a story of love, passion, death and the ensuing choice between contemplation and revenge.
Tunde is his Urbeth name; a small town on the Tharsult island in the Shining Sea. Tharsult inhabitants generally keep to themselves and have little curiosity about others’ affairs. Thursult is his adoptive land. His native land lies far away east in the Channath woods where the River Channath originates.
It was 1500 years ago when it all started. Meeyah l’wad was the naiad in charge of the river Channah. She oversaw the flow of water during snow melting season and made sure rain water was evenly distributed among the different ravines. She was a trusted water elemental and all creatures in the Channah woods knew their land was safe on her watch. She was proud of her work, and above all she loved to be of service to her appointed region.
The skies were angry one evening and large drops of water fell as clouds collided violently. Meeyah could feel the tension that the drops carried. They were not sweet water drops, nor were they salty. They were bitter and smoky. The texture of the water was not smooth. It felt scaly just as water feels when it pours out of a dead water jinn’s body. The very thought of death sent waves of chills through her body, let alone the death of one of her own.
The river carried no messages from Istishia about the terrible state of the skies. The rains poured on for days, leaving Meeyah busy working on rearranging water paths to avoid floods. The amount of water had grown to volumes that she could barely control. She used up every Jinn’s trick and spell that she could muster in a frantic effort to make sure not a single inhabitant was harmed. The rain drops pounded on earth and river suffocating any hope for silence. The air was misty and filled with the dewy smell of rain, and carried the sounds of everything from drops of water to the nervous prayers of Channah woodsians. Sounds and smells combined together to create a harrowing capsule of near death as Meeyah exhausted herself to maintain the fragile balance between water and earth. The sounds had already blended together into a single low noise that resembled the sound of a sea shell placed tight against the ear, when a shrieking sound pierced through this bubble. A little girl trapped on rock surrounded by rising water from all directions. Meeyah was over extended. Were she to deflect any of her attention to the girl, hundreds could be drowned. How can Istishia be so cruel as to force Meeyah to choose between a child and a hundred other people. Death was imminent. The only thing that mattered was who she chooses to save.
She knew she would never live with the outcome whatever it was. “Istishia!..” she cried, “take me instead… what is this charade!?” The skies offered no reprieve as rain drops grew larger and faster and the little girl’s screams grew louder. Meeyah was growing mad over the thoughts of her inability to save the child. Her cries only served to cover the screams of the girl.
Suddenly the screams stopped. “poor girl, so young, so helpless. Dead… how could I forgive myself!?” Meeyah sobbed. She did not feel death in the water, however. If anything she felt the struggle to live, and something more. The struggle to preserve and give life. Something reserved for the gods only. What is happening in the water. Her consciousness blended with the river water and now she could see the girl clearly. She was held up above the water by a human. The man was battling rain and waves of water in a struggle to save the girl and himself. He kicked with his legs to push himself forward. Every kick was matched by the massive splash of a rain drop on his head, pushing him under water. He would kick himself above water again and hold the girl up to breath and continue swimming. Meeyah tried to quiet the water around him, but she was already overextended. She could feel his tears blend with the water as he struggled to shore, kicking with his legs and waving his body to keep the girl afloat. In his tears, she could feel the realization of the end. A realization that only humans are capable of. A realization that quickly turns itself into sacrifice… a fight towards death so others can live. Her emotions were weakened by the strength of his will. He was touching the ground now with his toes but the water was still too deep for the little girl. He pushed himself forward in the water as rain drops conspired to push him back. He pushed them back with every drop of energy he had. Now he was waist high in the water and the girl fell from his arms and run ashore to the forest. With her weight off his arms, darkness covered his eyes. The world felt dim and silent. The river and forest were replaced by visions of a farm, corn and wheat fields, and a young boy running joyfully through the fields. The young boy looked back at him and smiled. Then entered another wall of corn fields. The man stretched his arms reaching in the direction of the boy. “wait for me son… wait for me.”
The water went silent. The rain stopped. The sky cleared. The water level quickly dropped. Meeyah blended in the water and reappeared again where the man’s body floated. He was not exhausted anymore, but lifeless. His lungs were full of water, but out of air. Hid body still warm from the struggle but cooling very rapidly. She held him in her arms as life was quickly being drained out of him. A man so unselfish and so desiring to give his own life for that of another is no mere mortal. He is a giver of life. She felt a sudden connection with him, as though they both knew each other for a very long time. Is this how it ends? Meeyah could see the light dimming in his soul as his body cooled, approaching death. She reached gently inside him and held the remaining dim light with one hand, using the other hand to cover the light as if she were traveling with a candle. She looked at the light with compassion and put it inside her core. If he can give his life in exchange for another’s, she can do no less. As naiad she can blend her flame of life with that of another to create a new life. Istishia looked down at Meeyah dispassionately and sighed “so it begins again.”
As Meeyah’s blue flame of life and the man’s red light of life blended together, she felt her body slowly melt into the river. She closed her eyes to see a man running joyously after his son, both laughing and singing. They stopped to look at her for a moment, then waved at her to join them. She whispered slowly “wait for me…” as her body seized to exist.
She vanished into the water. The river moved and saddened by what it just witnessed engulfed the new flame of life in a bubble of air and transported it gently into the Shining Sea. Upon hearing the story, the Shining Sea agreed to take the new life into an island where it will be nurtured and cared for.