SiddieRun Gaiden: Yu-Shan Essence Pop
Crafty Courtier of Gods and Elementals
Once there as a quiet village called Quiet Breeze. Surrounding by violent neighbors and a dangerous shadowland, the villagers rarely traveled far from their home. Yet they had little to fear, for North-West of their little hamlet was the Father-Tree. The spirit of the tree had protected the village for untold years, though not without demanding payment. Every five years, the village elders would select the most beautiful virgin to offer to the spirit’s lust. It was a high prices and a dangerous journey to the Father-Tree, but the villagers valued their peace at all costs.
The year Kayala Khan was chosen to travel to the Father-Tree, something was different. The path to the spirit’s domain was somehow darker. Shadows seemed to bend at odd and menacing angles. The bark of the trees had dulled to a greyish tint. The animals were gone or at least hidden out of sight. Yet, the great old Father-Tree stood as expected, study and proud.
The men of the village left Kayala with the Father-Tree and returned three days later to find the girl unconscious. They picked her up and returned to the village. She would never speak of the experience to anyone, trying her best to return to the life she knew. Only, her time with the Father-Tree had born fruit and she was with child. The pregnancy was quick, lasting only three month. The villagers took this as a sign that the child, named Idris Khan, was special. She was God-Blooded, with skin the color of the Father-Tree’s bark. For five years, Idris Khan was raised by her mother and the village elders. The Father-Tree had never gifted them a child and they hoped to mold her into a great shaman.
With high hopes that the Father-Tree would bless the village again, the elders sent another girl at the designated time. When the party failed to return after three weeks, the elders started to worry. They sent the strongest men in the village to journey to the Father-Tree and see what happened. They did not return either. Afraid, the village elders looked for signs that the Father-Tree was displeased with them. None came and life in Quiet Breezes went on.
When Idris was ten years old, the elders sent another girl to the Father-Tree, only to meet with despair again. When Idris was 15, the villagers asked the elders not to send another one of their daughters. The elders, knowing no other means of protecting their people, ignored their people and selected Alya Ghand, Idris’s oldest and best friend. Unwilling to just stand by and see her friend parish, Idris went into the woods and shadowed Alya’s guards as they made their way through the forest. It was worst than it was fifteen years earlier. The sun never seemed to shine more than a dim light, even at noon, and the trees almost seemed to be reaching out to pull the men into the darkness.
Finally, after a week and a half in the forest making their way to the Father-Tree, the men left Alya in its shadow. Idris, watching from the bushes, knew something was wrong. The strong and beautiful tree that the elders had told her stories of was gaunt and sick looking. Its leaves were dark as the night sky and its bark seemingly the texture and color of bone. As she watched, not sure of what to do, the branches of the Father-Tree reached out to pull Alya towards it’s trunk, while a hollow at the plant’s base grew to resemble the maw of a hungry beast.
Without thinking, Idris leapt out of the shadows and pulled at the branches ensnaring her friend. Unfortunately, the strength of two young women was not enough to battle an ancient elemental. But Idris did not want her friend to die. More so, she suddenly realized that her friend was not supposed to die this day. Everything was wrong. The system of the world, Fate, had gone wrong. Upon making this realization, a bright light burst forth from Idris and the Father-Tree loosened its grip.
Taking advantage of the spirit’s distress, a woman with long green hair appeared and took a sword to its branches. Without even a scream, the old tree writhed and then disappeared into the darkness. The woman turned towards Idris and asked her to come with her. Shocked and afraid but still determined, Idris refused and said she had to return to her village with her friend. The green haired woman smiled sadly and said they would meet again soon.
For two weeks, Idris and Alya traveled through the woods to their village. Along the way, they found Alya’s guards slaughtered but continued undeterred. Finally making it to the open clearing in front of the village, the girls met a scene of devastation. Their home had been raised to the ground and the villagers all killed. The wounds on the villagers and the discarded spears pointed to the neighboring tribes of death-worshippers as the guilty party. The Father-Tree obviously was no longer a deterrent.
After spending days burying their friends and family, the green haired woman appeared again and seemingly out of nowhere. She told the two girls that they were to be taken to be heaven, where Idris would be raised to be a champion of Mercury, the Maiden of Journey, and Alya would become the Goddess of Escaped Virgin Sacrifices. Their lives in ruins, the girls followed the green haired woman and took their places among the Exalted and Gods in Yu-Shan.