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Mother Itinerant, The

From the memoirs of Eli, Consul to the Courts of Heaven and Eclipse Caste Exalted:

The three spirit rulers of Great Forks studied me with stern eyes, as if trying to discover even the most minute flaws in my Essence. It was Spinner of Glorious Tales who broke the uncomfortable silence with a story, appropriately enough.

"A young woman once lived not far from here, in the Vines of Ascending Heaven Province, in the centuries just before the Great Contagion. She was beautiful beyond measure, with hair and eyes as dark as a starless night. Her life was a happy enough one, until the day came when harsh and uncaring barbarians came to her village. Her family was slaughtered before the first day was out, and the young woman was taken into the unpleasant custody of the raiders, where she lived a miserable existence, serving their rough whims. During this torture, she often stared up at the night sky, particularly the empty void between the stars, and wished for such tranquility.

"In time, her desperation led to her escape, and she roamed the wilderness as a nomad, unable to enjoy the company of other people any longer, for her shame was so deep. Unprepared for life as a vagabond, she should have perished. But every need she had was answered by fortune. When she was hungry, precious game crossed her path. When she was thirsty, she found creeks. She stumbled upon ancient caches which provided her with powerful artifacts. Each night, she stared up at the empty black void between the stars and whispered prayers.

"She wandered endlessly, as that was her life, and while wandering the deserts of the South she found herself beyond Creation, in the Endless Desert of Cecelyne. As usual, she turned her eyes upward to the night sky, and whispered her prayers to the night between the stars. But this time, that void answered. It told her that her easy life as a nomad was a result of Its actions. When she hungered, It provided her with food. When she needed protection, It provided her the means to defend herself. Now, in return, It asked only that she provide those in Creation with certain things, as the void would instruct her. That she continue to wander the world and grant the proper tools to the proper people at the proper time, as she was told. She nodded silently, and then whispered another prayer.

"The woman continued her nomadic life, but at certain times, as instructed, she would place in the hands of certain people great and powerful artifacts. She was known as the Mother Itinerant, but in actuality, she was only the mother of destinies corrupted. It was she that gave the Malfean weapon, Ashen Vengeance, to Blade of the Mountains, which led to his downfall. In addition, the Shawl of Sable Thorns would never have done the damage it did had she not had placed it on the shoulders of a Dragon-Blooded. Her assistance frayed the destinies of many, and through these tears, her Malfean master sent his souls into Creation."

Talespinner paused for a long moment, and when I felt it appropriate to speak, I asked him why it was that he shared this tale with me. It was Shield of a Different Day that answered my question, however, when she said, "Some tales are told to shape an outcome. Some tales, Prince of the Earth, are told to prevent an outcome."

Weaver of Dreams of Victory then turned to me and added, "Child of Great Forks, recall this tale in your travels. Nothing comes to you without a price. Do not trust that which is easy; all things virtuous are difficult and trying." I couldn't help but think that as they examined my soul so deeply, they saw what I had seen also, in the dreams of my life in an earlier age. There was an outcome that they were trying to prevent from happening again.

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Edited slightly to say "in the centuries just before the Great Contagion", instead of "in the days before the Great Contagion" to clear things up a bit. Also changed the reference to "First Age ruins" to "ancient caches." - Dimitryi