The Joint Winners of Month 2 are Sharielane and Brighid Greer!
alus Mater Radix-
Palus Mater- Swamp mother, the Roston’s Rest equivalent to Two Fold Queen.
Like the Two Fold Queen, the Swamp mother is both the giver of life, and also the harvester of souls as those pass away. She is both the Moon and Also the Sun. The Tree and its roots.
Arbor( Tree) - The Faith that follows the Palus Mater, Al'tifali religion based in deep swamps. In Roston’s Rest Trees are sacred symbols of the Palus Mater. They Symbolize their connection with the swamps, and the joy of being alive. So the Faith is named after trees.
Radix (Root of the Swamp Mother) - the followers gather at the roots of the Cyprus trees that meet the water’s edge. This is this religion's temple.
Followers of the Palus Mater are called seminatis (seeds). Treated like plant seeds that need to be nurtured to grow.
Palus Mater priests and priestesses are called Genere (branches) The arms of the Swamp mother that help reach towards the light, but also provide shelter and safety.
Palus Mater High Priestesses, or head of the Arbor are called Nymphaea odorata (Swamp Lilies) Liath women have usually held this position, but they are the flowers of the Palus Mater, they symbolize hospitality. They symbolize joyfulness, beauty, purity, good positive vibes.
Nuptialem (Handfasting or weddings) people use cypress tree roots to bind the couple together, and the bride wears a swamp lily in her hair, and the groom eats seeds
Exequiae (Funerals) , A procession to escort the body to its resting place. Being Dras they leave the body to decompose naturally, leaving items of meaning with the deceased.
Boletus Festum ( Feast of Mushrooms) The night was rumoured to have started as the Widow, Brighid Greer, had heard tales from the bog witches that mushrooms growing from the deceased allow you to glimpse the loved ones whose souls had been reborn.
Ortus (Births/ Baptisms) they bathe the babe in the swamp waters, asking the swamp mother's blessings.
Vulpes (The Guard that protect the town of Roston’s Rest and the Palus Mater Radix) The Female centred guard are lethal women and men raised from children in many forms of combats. Only Those who past the Iudicium can rise to command.
Iudicium (Swamp Trials) - Those Vulpes that believe they have earned the right to lead must take part in the Iudicium, A race where they must run blindfolded, carrying stones to symbolize the burden of leadership and the lives they carry as a commander. The Arbor believe that the Palus Mater would guide the chosen Vulpes through the swamps unharmed and let them reach the temple before other competitors.
Vadas (Commander) Leader of the Vulpes. The winner of the Iudicium and strongest warrior of Roston’s rest.
Matilda rushed around as she ran to fetch more clean water from the river. Using her dirty cotton apron, she patted her glistening forehead, her black hair slipping from under her simple bonnet. Her pale cheeks flushed as she felt her heart beat thunder in her chest. The town seemed anxious as all the servants were running around, doing as the Usher had commanded.
*“Any word of the Young Lord Matilda?” The cook, Agatha, asked. The cook stood near the doorway, her worried eyes held bags under them as she had been madly cooking porridge for the lord every day.
“Not yet Agatha, The Miss has been trying everything. She just asked me to fetch water for her.” *
Agatha looked sad as she nodded and wiped her hands on the cotton apron, letting Matilda rush past her up to the lord’s chambers. Yellow candle light flickered from under the heavy wooden door. Sounds of pacing could be heard on the other side.
“Mistress, it’s Matilda. May I come in?”
*“Yes please, Matilda, hurry,” *
*Matilda opened the door and paused, the stench overwhelming her. It smelled of rot, the mold off bread far past its edible stage and the sulfurous smell of bad eggs. She was grateful the lady had taken the pale of water for she instantly clutched the apron to her nose, failing to filter the air she was breathing. Her eyes stung as she attempted to see the lord through the watery tears filling her eyes. He looked bad. His face swollen, strange brown colored sores had spread all over his face, his eyes were clear grey, with yellow pus seeping from them. His chest shook with his ragged breaths. He was not long for this world. *
“Palus Mater, help us,” Matilda whispered.
The woman huddled over the body, sharply turned to her with a red eyed glare, “He isn't in her care yet,” the woman, his wife, was gently washing the sores with her pale soft hands. The man flinched in pain, his chest freezing with the spasm of agony.
*As she dropped the dirty cloth in the water, Matilda noticed that he has not resumed breathing. His chest lay still. Sharply inhaling, she clutches at her chest, as she watched his wife turn around and realize. The pain was slowly registering on her face, a mask of frozen horror. *
*“Hamish, Hamish, please. Palus Mater, no, Hamish, please, please come back,” she shook as the sobs broke out from her seemingly small body. Matilda crept forward and attempted to comfort the recently made widow, but the woman shrunk from the touch. “Leave us please.” Matilda nodded, silent tears dropping from her eyelids. Wiping her cheek, she shut the door behind her. *
The servants had gathered in the hallway of the manor, their faces gaunt. “The lord has passed into Palus Mater’s care.” A collective sob broke out among the women and children, the men held stern scowls, though their watery eyes betrayed the grief at such a loss. *
*“The Greers will need to be informed, so we can prepare the lord for the march to Bogspire.”
*“Yes, someone go fetch a courier and notify the Greers of this enormous loss.” Matilda turned toward the door, slowly opening it. The sounds of heart wrenching sobs could be heard from inside. She didn't want to interrupt her Mistress, but she knew eventually the priests would be here to clean him for the march to Bogspire and the widow would need to prepare herself. *
“Mistress, it's Matilda. I know you are in pain, but we need to prepare the body for the march.” *
*“I’ll clean him, no one else can.” *
*“As you wish, Mistress. I'll leave the wash basin here and the men will be up soon to place him on the stretcher, and the children will help lay lilies around him, okay?”
*As she carried her suddenly small and frail husband down to the waters of the river, the swamps normally so abuzz with noise, seemed silent. Only the croaks of the frogs could be heard. She dipped his naked limbs into the mossy waters, dripping droplets over his pale flesh as she whispered prayers, silent tears streaming down her face. The men carrying the stretcher stood by silently, their heads bowed as she washed him, the children stood sobbing. All had loved Hamish Greer. *
Brighid stumbled up the banks of the river, her eyes burning from tears as she laid the man she loved on the stretcher. Her heart felt like it had been torn from her chest. She ached and wanted to join him in the Palus Mater’s embrace. The stretcher carriers lifted him up, allowing the children to cover him in lilies. Assorted swamp twigs and leaves around the count, a horn bellowed around them as the small town began marching. Brighid covered herself in a thin black veil, her sobs making her shoulders shiver and tremble.
The march towards Bogspire seemed endless to Brighid. Her boots sunk into the mud, her legs felt heavy, each step felt harder and harder. She had to have her servant Matilda help her along as she was barely able to stand. As they reached Bogspire, the small procession parted for the Greers, each had pained expressions as their reality of Hamish’s death came crashing upon them.
Brighid couldn't bare to look at them, heavy grief and shame filled her. She had failed them. She hadn't saved Hamish from the illness. They marched Hamish toward his final resting place. Brighid stumbled forward, laying some of his treasured books beside him as she kissed his forehead one last time.
Sobbing heavily, she was pried away by some of the Bogspire locals. Matilda ushered Brighid towards a carriage, where Brighid fell unconscious from exhaustion.
Brighid was awoken by strange dreams, memories of the whispers of bog witches in the swamps, how they can bring people back from the dead. Bolting awake, sweat dripping from her forehead, she called out to the driver to head towards the deep swamps. She had to try. She had to find a way to bring her Hamish back. *
*Stepping off the carriage, she gazed into the deep swamp, only the dimly lit candle providing her with light. The trees looked frightening, twisted and jagged in odd ways. She called out frantically as she disappeared into the trees, her guardsman uneasy with leaving the widow alone.
Brighid called and called but was answered with silence. Twigs scratched at her ivory face, her dress tore with sharp thorns clawing at her fine dress. She eventually collapsed against a large cypress tree, her cries and screams of frustration echoed around the now silent swamps. *
*“By the Swamp Mother what is this awful noise?”
“I don't know Xeldna, I think it sounds like an ungrateful child to me.”
“You are right Taisha, it is an awful sound.”
Two old women, emerged from the trees, their backs bent with age, their skins were wrinkled, and their clothes were dirty and torn, their long grey hair wild and knotted. The woman presumably named Xeldna paused by the sobbing Brighid, resting her wrinkled arm on a small, carved walking stick, which she used to whack the widow hard on the head.
“What by the swamp mother is making you make that dreadful noise?” *
*Brighid stared at them in shock, unsure how to answer the brazen old women.
“See Taisha that's how you get the sound to stop.”
The two old crones cackle with laughter, before turning once more to the stunned widow.
*“Please, can you help me, I need a way to bring my husband back to life,” Brighid cried, tears streaming down her dirt smudged face. *
The two crones paused, the one named Taisha frowned, then looked at her companion “Well Have you tried eating the mushrooms that grow from him?”
“Ah no, I have not.” *
*The women look at the widow with a stern look.
* “Try that. It will be like he was alive once more” The two women huddled off, cackling wildy as they disappeared. *
Numb, Brighid wandered back through the swamps toward Bogspire. It was now dark, the swamps only illuminated by the milky moonlight. She made her way to her husband’s resting place. It had been several days since she had been to his funeral, his body had begun decaying, his body bloated and waxy. She saw tiny purple mushrooms sprouting from his flesh. She plucked them eagerly, convinced what she had heard was advice from bog witches and stumbled her way back to Roston’s Rest, nibbling on the mushrooms.
Her body became alive with tingling sensations, her pupils dilated as her vision became distorted. She saw green fog dancing across her vision. As she wandered around, she saw glimpses of Hamish, he was standing as he did when he was alive, reading a book, asking her to sing for him. Brighid began to sing, dancing around with the vision of her love. It seemed to last hours, only when he suddenly vanished, and nausea filled her stomach, did she stop dancing. She was surrounded by village folk. All stunned and transfixed on what they had just witnessed.
Hamish was gone. The full weight of her grief made her legs give out. Concerned the nearby crowd rushed to help her, peppering her with questions on why she was singing and dancing out in the night. Unable to fully speak, she promised in a years’ time, shed explain. Exhausted, she swayed towards the Liath manor, stumbling up the stairs, she collapsed onto the bed and cried herself to sleep, not to be seen for many months.
Lament of a grieving soul:
Brighid was slumped in an old oak rocking chair that had been handed down several generations, her ebony hair was matted from lack of sleep, large purple bags under her lilac eyes was showing the lack of sleep that plagued her for weeks. Her body looked frail, it lay still near the edge of her bed, her shoulders shivering as she stared at the lack of the body that used to lay there. Silent tears streaming down her face. She had failed. She absent mindedly brushed away a stray black lock of hair that covered the her blurred vision. Brushing her ivory fingers downwards, pulling the black streaks of hair away from her face. A sob of agony caught in her throat, Hamish was gone.
The sob she had been holding onto escaped from her dry cracked lips, Clutching at his blood covered shirt, she weeped. How would she continue on while he was reborn, guided into the swamp mother’s embrace. A sharp exhale of panicked breath alerted her to the presence of the servant girl Matilda “Im sorry Mistress” she whispered, her voice was soft against the silence of the room.
“GET OUT!!” Brighid screamed at the young girl, the maid wore her black wavy hair was pulled into a small bun, her bonnet sat neatly on the short woman’s head, her face wore a shocked expression, her eyes relaxing into a look of sympathy. Throwing a chamber pot at Matilda’s head Brighid screams at her.
“Leave me be please.”
Brighid didn't want the bedroom tainted. She didn't want them to come and claim his belongings, to pull him further away from her.
“Mistress Maybe we can call for your uncle, Maybe he can help you move Lord Hamish’s belongings, You have done all you could have, You need to grieve.”
Brighid’s soul ached at the thought, her uncle, the Monster of a man touching her heavenly Angel Hamish’s precious books. “No!! No One knows of this, Leave me.” She hissed.
Matilda frowned, hesitating a moment before she turned and shut the door into the bedchambers.
Alone again with her husband cherished items, she leant down and kissed his book on commerce, his subtle scent still clung to its coffee stained pages. Tears washing her face. “I'll join you soon my love, just wait” Brighid stumbled over a small stool, reaching for a blade that sat near makeshift bandages from torn cloth, and assorted jars of poultices. She slashed at her wrists, tears blurring her vision and lay herself upon his blood stained bed, caressing his worn pillow, she kisses the pillow then lays her head on his pillow, sobbing silently as watched her blood slowly staining the bedsheets a crimson red. She dropped the blade onto the floor and closed her eyes. Tasting the salt on her lips.
Matilda had been scolded for not staying with the Mistress by the head Maid Tabatha, hearing something be dropped on the wooden floor she runs back into the room and screams at the sight of blood. “Mistress NO!” Crying out, she grabs the makeshift bandages and wraps them around her slit wrists, pressing onto them she calls out “ Help please, Mistress is in need of assistance”
The stable boy Leigh Liath ran into the room and helped carry the now unconscious Brighid out of the room. “Where do we take my cousin she needs help and someone to stay with her” Tabatha frowned “Only one place close enough, Send her to her family manor, to her Parents..” Leigh nodded, Gently easing Brighid onto the horse he rode towards the Liath manor, urging the horse with panic.
The servants crowded around the now abandoned House, muttering and whispering “No good comes from Greers and Liaths being together” Muttered one of the Butchers. “ I reckon she did it, She murdered him for his money and then tried to kill herself to cover her story” whispered the fishmonger. “Hush, the lot of you with your rumours and slander” Tabitha shook her head, watching the horse disappear into the distance “May the swamp mother be with you Leigh, and also with you Brighid, you will need her guidance”
The Wayward Son
“You can’t be serious!”
Róshar could not believe what he was hearing. His Mother could not possibly mean it surely. Could she? He knew he had overstepped the mark. Admittedly he has done so more than a few times if he was honest, exasperating his mother and earning him her ire to no end, but surely it has not come to this... this drastic measure. But the smug look on his loathsome cousin’s face was all the confirmation he needed. No doubt Sharyçe is thrilled at his current predicament and is savouring every ounce of his discomfort. So engrossed in the thought he jumped when his mother banged her fists atop of her desk where she was seated.
“Damn right I’m serious!” Sharayde’s nostrils flared as she glared at her son. “ This was the last straw Róshar. Enough is enough. It’s time you settled down and see to your place in this family or that place will go to another.” Flicking her hand in Sharyçe’s direction she indicated his would be replacement. “Mark my words Róshar, if it was not for the fact that you are my son and only child I would of expelled you from this family long ago. But that privilege can only buy you so much reprieve and you have just used the last of it. For the Ledger’s sake Róshar.” She stood up and leaned forward over her desk in supplication. “What were you thinking?”
Stunned by the threat he could do nought but watch with his stricken face as his mother fell back into her chair in futility with an exasperated sigh. “Ever since your name day I swear you have done nought but tumbled our family into one disaster after another with your unthinking actions. First, when I sent you on that trade mission to Chultakarn on aboard The Evening Tide to bring back supplies our Garden desperately needed for the Longest Night you instead abscond with it follow the King’s retinue to Wus'Shuyeswis and to that blasted vault. Do you have any idea of hardship you brought us all to? If it wasn’t for the alliances we made through the Southern Coalition we would not have made it through that Night, seeing as you took with you our only means of transporting in the supplies we need."
“Now that’s not fair Mother.” Róshar argued. “ There wouldn’t have been another opportunity to go up and try my luck at the Vault if I waited. Everything would have been pick clean and be long gone by then. I had no choice but to go.”
“No choice?” Sharayde blinked as she tried to comprehend the level of her son’s audacity. A quiet rage filling every fiber of her being. “No choice?!” Shaking her head she took a deep breath as she launched into her tirade. “You had a choice, the choice to do your duty and return home. But no. With complete disregard to your responsibilities to both this family and to this Garden you ran off chasing visions of adventure and glory. You made the wrong choice.”
“But Mother, “ Róshar interjected, “If I hadn’t gone we would not have those interesting specimens I brought back for your precious botanical gardens.” He pleaded trying to use her soft spot for the gardens to win her over.
Sharyçe snorted in disgust. “ We could as easily of obtained those specimens later from others after the Night was over.” She dismissively. “There was no need for you to go to acquire them.” Róshar glared at her and her stupidly reasonably sound argument. Of course she would say so he thought as he sullenly turned away from her and sat back in his chair, folding his arms in moody silence.
“What your cousin says is truth Róshar.” Sharayde nods her head in agreement with her niece. “Much as I do admire them those specimens can be acquired at any reasonable market nowadays. We needed you here. Besides, you didn’t return and bring those specimens to us directly after your time in the Vault. “she shrugged, “When they could of been of great use during the Night. No, instead you once again took our cutter and went gallivanting off with that To’reshi proclaiming himself the Pirate King. And then you lost it!
A stab of guilt ran through Róshar at the mention of the ship’s loss. True that was his fault. But in the wake of the King’s disappearance at the Vault, and with rumours that his despot son was making a ruin of his country, he had been mesmerised by the chance met pirate’s enthralling speech of reclaiming it and could not resist to answer his call to arms. True even after another faction lead by the Heart Taker had finally unseated that boy despot he continued ravaging the coast and spending his divvy in that gilded rat’s den called Isregard, but by then he did not think his face would be welcome back home in Evenfall. Róshar sighed deeply at the memory. If only he didn’t let that wily To’reshi card shark goad him into putting the cutter up to bet. He should of cut his losses and called it a night. Oh no, he had been so certain that he had the winning hand that he willingly went all in, and then penniless and with nought but the clothes on his back he trudged the miles through the marsh and then the swamp until he came home to Evenfall with his proverbial tail tucked between his legs. The family pariah.
Sharayde waited for her son’s protest but unusually for him he was silent. Good, she thought, he is starting to take responsibility for his actions. “And then you finally came home, and I hoped that would be the end of it. That you had finally seen sense and had come home to mend your ways. But you can’t seem to keep away from trouble can you? And now I’m hearing that you have been getting involved with that rebel underground joker movement. Horizon? Zorizon? No wait Xorizon. You have to be kidding. Have you no sense at all. What if the King’s men caught wind of your involvement? Have you any idea what would happen to our family if they knew that one of our own was involved with that lot?
Róshar dipped his head in remorse. “I’m sorry Mother. It just rankles being under the heel of those Janoan brutes. I guess I was just so taken in with rebelling against their rule that I didn’t think…”
“Yes!” Sharayde interrupted her son. “Once again you didn’t think. And now I have to cover up and clean up your mess. No more! If you want to remain my heir you will do as I say and leave on the morrow for the Sedecim in Genera. There you will complete the betrothal I have arranged with our family’s business partners there, the Llaçarquis’. They have a daughter, Elaîna, who by all accounts has firm and pragmatic head on her shoulders and who will be more than capable enough to keep you firmly in line and to keep our family from ruin at your hands. Not to mention the family has connections with some of Genera’s best boatwrights and has commissioned a a fitting replacement for The family’s vessel that you lost. *She glared at him to be sure that last bit sank home.” With the Queen’s Grace we can hopefully have this marriage arranged in time to be held here during the next Laezhen Memorialus. Now wouldn’t that be auspicious for your union.”
“Yes indeed Aunty.” Sharyçe smiled sweetly, smarmy as always. Only Róshar could detect the smirk she hid behind her prim and proper countenance.
“But Mother, I don’t even know this Elaîna.” Róshar pleaded. “What if it turns out I can’t stand the sight of this woman? You can’t possibly expect me to go through with this marriage without first ascertaining that we find each other amenable at least?” He tried reasoning with her.
Sharayde simply shook her head. “I do not care if you and Elaîna despise each other so much that you end up living in houses on either end of the Garden just to avoid the sight of each other. She is a great match and can provide much for the betterment of this family, and for Evenfall. This once you will do your duty and you will marry this woman, or will send Sharyçe in your place and make her my heir. Is that understood?”
Sharyçe looked on in glee, hoping that the fool would remain true to nature and defiantly decline. After all hardships his cousin has caused surely the Queen will smile favorably upon her to restore the balance to the family.
Knowing that his Mother could not be moved from this decision he sighed in resignation and nodded. “Yes Mother, I understand.” he mumbled sullenly.
Sharayde nodded. “Good. That’s settled then. You will go up to your room and starting packing for your journey, and I will finish the preparations. I expect you to be packed and ready for the barge by sunrise.” The conversation done she returned to her papers waved them out of her office.
Walking together down the outside hall to their respective rooms Sharyçe couldn’t help but chuckle her amusement. “Oh cousin, I do hope the crocodile you marry is the right and proper dragon that they say. For even if I never take your place as heir I can still be content that she is making your life miserable nonetheless.” With one last chuckle she disappeared into her room leaving the poor Róshar standing frozen with horror, with the sudden realisation that out of all the mistakes hes has made in his life, that agreeing to his mother’s demand may have been the biggest one of them all.