Death of the Flowers

1629, Sea Season, Death Week, Waterday


Berra has left in a hurry to go to worship at the Temple of Humakt. This is what happens there. Session SA4.08.


The chosen worship for Sea Season is Death of the Flowers. For the previous two years, the Temple has learned of the mystery of Magasta’s Pact, but Lord Eril has decreed this time, Spring must die so that Summer may be born. It is an indicator that Lord Eril expects further conflicts, and will be strengthening Death for the next season. Some are disappointed that they are unlikely to be free to raid. Others look forward to the battles ahead.

The dancing requires a spring virgin. In a Humakti Temple, half of that requirement is easy. One of the youngest initiates has been training for half a year, for this moment. She may die, if the magic goes wrong, but she shows no fear as she emerges, singing a simple cradle song, from the house of her mother.

Around her in the landscape, there is at first nothing to harm her. Then, halfway through her dance, wild animals approach. In her innocence, she does not fear them, and so they are tame.

It is as Yelm rises that Voria first pauses, sitting down by a river and chattering to the water. She wipes her brow in the heat, and then suddenly, there is her father’s champion, catching the flower that falls.

Voria tries to put the flower back into her garland, but it has withered in the hand of Humakt. Her puzzlement makes her go look for a solution. Now where she walks, Humakt protects her. She sees the animals at bay, afraid of him, and when she tries to comfort them they threaten her. The water rises in the spring and Death saves her from it, but she learns that it could kill her.

The dance of Humakt and Voria is a parody of a hunt. The girl-child does not see how danger rises up until she is saved, and with each passage of danger, petals fall from her.

Finally she finds her way back to her mother’s house, where her sister, a grain goddess, takes her crown of bright green leaves and dances out to see her lover.

Politely, Voria invites Lord Humakt into her mother’s house. He tells her that he is the final danger, and terror grows on her face. She falls at the entranceway to life, and he lets her fall. He gives no farewell to Ernalda, but goes to pick up a withered flower and crumble it between his fingers. His ageless look fades, and he dances with his sword, a young warrior in fire season, protective yet ultimately merciless.

On Death’s Day, a single story is told, and lasts much of the night. The story of Death in Spring is shorter, and so there are many possible variations. These are shown through the night for those who wish to learn, with different Rune Lords playing the part of Humakt. None have the intensity of the first dance, and some are mere talk-throughs.

Lord Heenith sings and dances the tale of how Death was a constant bodyguard to Voria, until she asked to be alone, and so he stopped protecting her. Sword Graria is absent from the field for most of Voria’s aging, approaching only as the maiden of spring starts to yawn. Her voice is always there, though, and when she approaches it is no surprise. Lord D’Val shows the tempestuousness of spring, bringing floods and new life, while Voria sees all that happens and lets herself be swept away.

There are other Rune Lords, but perhaps nobody else could be found who could play Voria. Four young dancers in a Temple of Death is a good number.

Only one of them truly matters: Masamor will spend the next season at the Temple, as Voria. Relieved from other duties, she must flee from Lord Eril if she sees him, and eat nothing but spring foods. She will live in the house of her mother, and keep the door closed during any services, allowing no Death within.

Eril, of course, will continue to be himself.

Berra takes a few jibes about being young, small, and Vorian with a look of apparent confusion, and nobody wants to explain. She has managed to gather a small extra crowd by the time Hero-worship is due, and about thirty warriors are gathered in the room to hear her talk of Eril, his deeds, and his guidance of the Temple. Her belief in him shines through.

She does not share the omens that she reads. The pale stone of the altar drinks in the blood patterns, which fade even as she studies them.