Ysharra/Weather the Season

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Ysharra emerged from the close, throttling enclosure of the Vipershroud, taking a few faltering steps towards the hidden settlement. The night air on her shoulders became urgently bracing, and she hung by the boulder for a few breaths, telling herself soon she would be back at the Landing. And then...?

The girls would both be at the villa, and while Ysharra wasn't fool enough to think them oblivious, their expressions and questions would be more than she could stomach, tonight. Padding gingerly across the verge of the swamp onto drier land, Ysharra paused to glance up at the gathering storm clouds, marking the shape and hue of the greys and indigo. Soon, she might be needed, so she had to find a place to heal.

Every pace made her regret leaving her hiding place under the Vipershroud's canopy, the grove where she spent so many hours recovering from her visits to The Calamity. Just north of the Hendoran Outpost, her attention was drawn from the darkening sky, toward the Dragonsclaw on the western horizon. In the distance she could make out the modwir, the huge conifer which only weeks ago had been the dominant figure in a world of dark green and rich brown. Dominant it still was, but the color was that of ash, the needles gone, looking so much a skeleton of its former majesty. The modwir, and the line of dead trees behind it, made her long for the swamp once more. She thought of a conversation with one of the Enclave, during a trip to the east together, about how the bogs should be cut down and drained, to make the trip easier. All these weeds, he had said. Gets into your soul.

She repeated the words as she approached the ghoulish conifer, a mantra of irony, of what happens when you get what you ask for. As a gardener and lover of things that grow, weed was one of her least favorite words, as no plant, no matter how noxious or invasive, is a weed. They grow where they find a way, and all weed ever means is that someone doesn't want it there. She reached the bough of the bony branches, another drop of blood heralded her slow approach upon a grey, dried patch of sweetgrass. The dark crimson against the withered spindles combined with the phrase, gets into your soul, and she caught her breath once more, a new pulse joining her cacophony.

...you, there...you're just another weed, aren't you?

Ysharra realized her companion's words that she had been so dismissive of were coming back to engage her, a paradox she might not have seen, if not for the state of mind her ritual and Naamit had left her with. All these months, she'd looked at what they'd lost, the crops, the fish, the garden...Munin...but never looking at the blight itself. It's finding a way, like a fungus or a dandelion. It's trying to survive.

What we need isn't more grief, no...we need to know you.

She placed her palm on the dead trunk, splaying her fingers out across the dried, solid bark, and reached out, with her skill, her magic, her calling, pleading for an answer. Her senses, normally honed to look for dehydration, aphids, sunburn...instead turned toward the silent resident of the tree, the blight. She tinged her questing with the same tone and cadence that she treated the threatened species with, a desire, a sympathy, and finally, looking across the rents in her skin, of empathy.

I, too, have been cursed and scorned, for refusing to die. Show me. Show me what you are...please...

Thunder rumbled, and the first few drops of rain coursed down from the sky, pulling the curtain of clouds across the pale grey face of Lornon, leaving the ranger and her work in the gloom.