The Maiden Tree
- Grandmother, A mysterious Obsidianu storyteller.
- Junita, a healer from a former Age.
- The Citrine Wastes
10th day of Amethyst, year 55 of the Age of the Great Invasion
- The caravan stops for a night after crossing into the Citrine Wastes. Lucius, Zyindra, Maayan, and Midge have gathered around a fire to share water and company. An elderly Obsidianu woman approaches and asks to join the band. She is invited to sit and introduces herself as "Grandmother".
- Grandmother tells her new friends a story of a maiden named Junita, born during an Age when the woman of Scapolite were forced to wear veils and hide their faces. Junita wished to be a healer and convinced her father, a town elder, to sponsor her application into the healer's college. There, her good cheer and heart, her compassion and charity won over the healers. She learned the arts of healing and returned home, taking off her veil forever. In time, Junita won over the people of her home town as well. One day, a man approached Junita. She did not know him but he insisted a friend was hurt, just outside of town. Never one to turn down someone in need, Junita follows the man to his friend. There was no injury, however, and the men did horrible things to Junita. She escaped and ran away. The men gave chase. Junita called upon Emerald, begging for aid. Mildred the Quiet, Icon of Emerald, heard her plea and interceded with Emerald. Aid was given and Junita was transformed into a tree. She escaped the men and, as a tree, Junita continued to aid in the form of shade and fruit. But in time the town vanished and over the Ages the Citrine Wastes crept northward, eating away at the land until Junita was buried not in earth but in sand. Junita the tree, Grandmother said sadly, did not have long to live.
- The company all look away or blink. Grandmother vanishes in that moment. Zyindra recalls a tale of an Icon of Obsidan that told stories.
- Determined, Zyindra travels away from the caravan in the night. Lucius, Maayan, and Midge follow her to make sure she stays safe. They find Junita, dying, her roots unable to gain nourishment from the sand.
- Maayan and Zyindra combine their magics, something prohibited by Elven tradition. They heal Junita and discover a spring of water far below the ground. Midge uses her explosives and alchemical knowledge to dig through the sand, bringing the spring to the surface. Around the company, an oasis forms and blooms.
- Lucius steps forward and tells Junita her story, reminding her of who she was and is. Junita blooms as well, leaves growing. She creates a fruit that is every color and no color all at once. Lucius takes the fruit and stores it away.
- Having restored Junita and given her new purpose as a helper to those crossing into the Citrine Wastes, the company returns to the caravan.
TO BE CONTINUED
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