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 Post subject: [STORY] Returning Home
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 8:46 pm 
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***

Maramawhā awoke from her sleep, disturbed. She dreamt of her first planeswalking, of the violence of her tribe's demise, of her desperation to not be captured, of the trust she felt she broke, even when her own life was at stake. It was by no means the first time the penguin-like Aven had relived those moments in her sleep, but it never felt so real before. That it came after another incident earlier that night settled it as a serious matter.

She had slept nested between the roots of a small but thick oak tree, overseeing the cliffs and the sea. The world was still dark, no signs of daylight in the horizon, just the dim glimmer of the stars above, and the dimmer glow of Esper skygrids in the distance. Few natural places in Bant remained safe and calm after the Conflux, and Maramawhā did what she could to preserve them. That coastoal wilderness was admitely one of her favourites, though she realised its secluded, pristine condition was temporary, as nearby there were nascent communities that needed more land to sustain themselves. It was all good, though; Alara was still healing, and the Conflux's changes were better in the grand scheme of things. Maramawhā long accepted that things don't last forever, and if anything they were more enjoyable because of it.

But in that moment, enjoyment was something she lacked. Even awake, the dream skill skimmed the back of her mind. Memories of the images, sounds and even the taste of the air were so fresh that she couldn't help but go through them in moments at a time. Eventually, they began to fade, but one sensation remained: guilt.

Guilt she felt on bringing doom to her community. Guilt in breaking her tribe's trust. Guilt in leaving them behind.

Maramawhā had been through the exercises and their failures at being successful countless times before. It wasn't my fault a scout noticed me - no, it was, I'm responsible for being noticed. It wasn't my fault that I am a planeswalker - but I shouldn't have indulged in that, shouldn't have left. It wasn't my fault they were pratically dead - but I could've done something. In those rare moments she was pushed to the point of irritability she added They had it coming for keeping me from bound for so many years, but she always chastised herself for having such a horrid thought, and in time she matured beyond that. One thing had always remained constant, however: it was exhausting, it was something that could only be solved by ignoring and forgeting.

But she couldn't ignore and forget. And a part of her didn't want to. What was the point of doing so if it would crop up later? Maramawhā didn't know what to do, but she knew that she couldn't evade any longer. She had to do something about this.

The Hoiho took a deep breath, trying to instill some peace of mind. Absentmindedly did she raise her head, and in doing this she had a clear view of the night sky. Constellations dotted the heavens, glimmering in a void few planeswalkers could reach. In her tired gaze, Maramawhā swore some stars flickered and moved. She knew that was impossible there, under the Bant sky, but she knew of a plane where constellations were alive.

Maramawhā had been to Theros a couple of times before, and remembered it fondly. It was a strange plane, where the nightsky was a spiritual fabric, connected to dreams and the unconscious mind. She had spirited debates with philosophers and oracles on the nature of spirituality, and while she found the dominant dogma too restricting it was still a place where she was free if not downright encouraged to contemplate and meditate.

Maybe that's what I need, the planeswalker thought to herself, a place to think this through.

Maramawhā once more felt humbled. No matter which plane one was in, if you bothered to instill harmony you'd always find your answers. Not all planeswalkers did this, most simply fought petty struggles - and the Hoiho herself was guilty of this sometimes. Nonetheless, all things would always fall into place; that was simply the natural order, common across the Multiverse.

She rose from her resting place between the roots, grabbing her Mere weapon. The planeswalker began focusing mana, when she heard a sound coming from the woods. Maramawhā turned calmly, and saw a girl, probably in her teens, hiding behind the forest undergrowth, peeking occasionally.

"What are you doing alone at night?" the Aven asked with concern in her voice, even though she knew this was one of the few places in Alara were wandering alone at night was reasonable.

The girl cautiously left her hiding spot, knowing that there was no point in hiding. She knelt before her, almost knight-like, and the Aven imediately knew she was coming after her to ask for something.

"The village elder told us that the forest had a guardian, an Aven with no wings. I went to look everywhere, and I almost gave up, but then I found you here. I was waiting for you to wake up."

She paused, not quite sure of what to say. Maramawhā nodded patiently, and resolve seemed to wake inside the girl.

"We can't grow crops anymore. The land was cursed by monsters from Grixis, and we have to hunt and gather to survive. But that's not enough, and we don't know what to do. Some people want to cut down the trees to make new farmlands, some people want to burn down the whole forest. I was looking for you so I can beg for your forgiveness, because we don't know what to do."

Maramawhā looked around. This was it, that was the last time she was ever going to see those woods again. She was saddened that her last moments in such a peaceful, pristine place were lived with her guilt, but she had long accepted the inevitable. The villagers needed to survive, and she wasn't going to deny them that. If that's the way things needed to be, that's the way they would be. She walked to the tree she had slept next to, touching its rough bark with her feathered fingers one last time. Goodbye, she muttered, and turned again to the girl, who was waiting her response.

"Your people can do whatever they want to these woods. They can cut them, they can burn them. I've protected this this last sanctuary on Bant, but I can't do so anymore, and I won't deny your people what they need. You have my blessings."

"Thank you" the girl said, bowing reverently.

Maramawhā nodded, and touched the tree again. She felt the dewdrops gathering on the bark, and willed all the water in it and the leaves to join together in her palms. Soon, enough water gathered for her to freeze and form a small object similar to the sigils so valued in Bant, which she infused with mana she gathered from the surrounding woods and sea, before placing it on the girl's hands.

"This is my token of approval, so that your village knows your words to be true" Maramawhā said, "It's made from an ice that will never melt, and it will make all on the land respect your authorithy as much as an angel."

"Thank you, but I'm not sure I want that much power."

"It's my gratitude for going out of your way to come to me. Your heart is in the right place, and Alara needs people like you to heal it."

The girl didn't know what to say, and Maramawhā's kind gaze told her she didn't need to. The Hoiho then turned away, and began drawing mana from the entire plane, weaving the spell that would get her out of there. As she did, she looked at the girl one last time, and saw the ever welcome look of a question that needed to be answered.

"Ask me now, because I won't return for a long time" the Aven said.

"Did someone cut your wings?" the girl asked, slightly embarassed.

Maramawhā couldn't smile, but her cheerful gaze was unmistakeable.

"No, I never had wings to begin with. And I will never need them."

Maramawhā then stared at the night sky, and vanished.

***

Maramawhā's arrival to Theros was somewhat disappointing. She was expecting to see the nightky, but it was early morning, and the stars were gone. The planeswalker nonetheless arrived where she wanted, in the seas near the edges of the world. She landed on the sea surface abruptly, catching glimpses of a distant tree-temple. The planeswalker knew that was were she needed to go, and so she swam rapidly towards it, her arm-flippers providing one potent thrust to make her speed away like a dolphin.

As the Hoiho paddled through the water she began to relive the memories. First there was a brief glimpse of her village burning, then she heard dim voices and screams filling her mind. The images grew more vivid and the sounds grew louder, until it became almost tangible. The planeswalker never fully lost awareness from her aquatic surroundings, the feeling of water around her body and her need to surface to breathe being always there. The scenes played through in her mind, her heart beating faster and her limbs speeding her along. She didn't fight against this, she allowed her mind to play it over and over, to explode with fear and grief and guilt, until her rational thoughts disappeared, only wild instinct remaining.

The scenes played more and more rapidly, as a chaotic mess of images and sounds and emotions, and she was compelled to take a deep breath and dart into the therosian ocean depths as fast and deep as possible. As she did, the sounds dimmed, and only the images remained, silent passing by. Then they began to lose their colour, to be tinged by a deep ocean blue, until they faded. Maramawhā was only vaguely aware of her surroundings, of the sea surrounding her: her mind was in a deep unconscious state, almost dreamlike. Her heart beat slowed down, her paddles slowed down but became stronger, propelling her slowly but keeping her in the depths, preventing her from floating upwards.

Glimmers of stars began to appear, as if the ocean, now dark as the night, was the void of space. Nebulas and quasars and galaxies tinged the water in alien purples and reds and oranges, and for a moment Maramawhā's mind was vacant. All the chaos, all the turbulence, all the emotions were now gone, as was rational thought. The only thing that remained was the sight of the space-ocean, stars skirting as they became Nyxborn.

But, as Maramawhā herself thought back in Alara, nothing lasts forever. The sky ocean became her moments in Bant, her awe at her harmony, her acceptance of that forest's fate, her gift to the girl. For a moment she lived those instances again, briefly overlaid with the memories of her first planeswalk.

Let go of your guilt. Accept what happened, and move on. Nothing lasts forever.

The voice - not as much a voice as a message - snapped the planeswalker's mind like a bell ring, and she awoke from her trance. She wasn't swimming anymore, and so the air trapped within her thick plummage made her float towards the surface as fast as she dove into the depths. She ascended so fast that the darkness became blue in a matter of seconds, almost stunning her if not for her need to breathe. So she sped along, flapping her arm-flippers, and in an instant she breached the ocean surface, flying over the waves.

At the height of her jump she saw the temple just a mile or so ahead, and as she fell back into the ocean surface she wasted no time covering the rest of the journey. She didn't once relive her memories, she was calm and determined, instead focusing entirely on the task at hand. She had a vague idea of what conclusion she'd draw from that event, but didn't ponder on it.

Maramawhā reached the temple half-an-hour later, jumping from the water into a platform at the roots, just before the waterfall into nothingness began. She sat, exhausted from the journey. It didn't take long for her to fall asleep, laying on the ground brusquely. Her weapon was still clenched by her hand, released only slightly when she slept.

In her sleep the Aven saw the nightsky in its full glory, like in the depths of the sea. The planeswalker felt peaceful, as if connected to all things, to all living beings through their unsconscious. In her awareness she felt a presence, invisible and intangible, yet somehow completely enveloping her, as if it was all she was seeing.

"You can see all that's in my mind, can you?" she asked, feeling as if vocalising her thoughts.

Yes, I can.

"Then you know what I am, where I come from?"

I do. You are not the first planeswalker to set foot in this world.

"I suppose I'm not. You've seen the world I left behind?"

I did. It calls for your return.

"Perhaps. But I can't bring myself to go back there, not with the memories, not with the risk that they're still out there, looking for me."

Healing is a complicated process, which is not universal. But evading, bottling up and ignoring, that is never healthy. You need to confront what is troubling you, to let yourself move on. You can run away if you want, but on the long run it will only make things worse. A tree will always grow, but if it does not overwhelm the wind or the rocks will it fall down and crumble.

The "voice" paused, before continuing:

You are stronger than you were when you left 10 years ago. You grew, you became as strong as a cedar and your roots spread far and wide. But a cut when you were a sappling still remains, and you need to heal it, lest it become corrupt and destroy you from the inside. It will never be easy, you will face fire and beasts and axes. But you can survive them, and only by allowing yourself to grow over the cut will find wholeness.

If Maramawhā could nod she would have. She felt lighter, as if renewed, knowing what she had to do.

"Thank you. I hope to survive this, so we can talk again."

So do I. As do the many you have helped through the countless worlds.

And so the planeswalker woke up. It was a more pleasant awakening than the one in Bant, far more satisfying and relaxing, as if she had slept through days on end. It was late afternoon, and Maramawhā didn't discount that possibility, though her experience told her that it probably didn't take more than a few hours. She stretched, feeling strong and energised, almost as if her run across the ocean didn't happen at all.

Breathing deeply, she wasted no more time. The Aven rose, and weaved mana once more through her Mere, all of Theros lending power to her next journey. Maramawhā closed her eyes, and she vanished once more. When she opened her eyes again, the scene was still an open ocean nearing a sunset, but her feet were touching white atoll sands instead of a wooden platform, and the air felt different, acquiring a taste much different from the sea winds of Theros, a sensation she almost forgot.

Maramawhā was back in Matahouroa, after a leave of absence of a decade, and she couldn't help but shed tears of joy.

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Planeswalker's Guide
The Story

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Last edited by Heliosphoros on Fri Jul 28, 2017 6:26 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 11:47 pm 
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Well, this was a thing. I don't have a whole lot to say about this story because, naturally, not much really happens. It's a decent character piece for Maramawhā, and I particularly like her attitude toward the forest she was protecting and her decision to give it up for the villagers. That was my favorite part of the story. The Theros part I wasn't as big of a fan of, mostly because I've never particularly liked those "I know everything and will dole out free wisdom" type of characters. But it wasn't bad, certainly.

There are a number of typos throughout, but my bigger issue is with some of the choices of language. Some of it just seems much too modern for my tastes. Things like "torpedo" just seem anachronistic, and turns of phrase like "it was all good" and "the long run" feel too much like modern inventions of language to me. That's just my take, though.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, even if there wasn't a lot to it in terms of narrative. Thanks for posting.


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PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2015 6:43 am 
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Thanks, I'll get to the spelling mistakes.

I concede on torpedo, and I changed it.

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