THE WISEWOMAN'S TALE
Her hands are the last to fail her. She tries to wrap her gnarled fingers around the delicate strands of the spore stalk, but the stubborn digits refuse to cooperate. These wrinkled hands are like visions of another life, one she barely remembers inhabiting. Did she leave by choice? Was she sent into the marsh because it was finally the end time?
She is somewhere in Lilin territory now, she knows this because she can hear their calls echoing deep in the mist. Rumbles from the ancient gods, high thrumming calls from the little spirits which flit as if shadows themselves. She remembers being so afraid of the mats when she was a child, but now they seem so welcoming. Warm, like returning home from a long journey.
Now, golden spots in the air… the tiny motes that send you reeling. Sporefall. The elders must have sent her here – why else would she drift into the mist alone? Was her mind unraveling from age… or was it the spores tampering with her memory? Did her grandchildren send her to die, here past the gates of Eden?
Feet aching, she sits on the ground in no particular place, every direction golden currents. Closes her eyes, feels the pulse of Apsyntion, and is calmed. She need not remember why. She is here now, and the angels will arrive soon.
The great beast, like a walking mountain, parting the mist with fanlike tendrils. It kneels at her feet, quiet as a breath for a being so titanic. Antennae carress her face, and she rests her palms on its bulk, feeling the gentle breath of the Lilin. Its breath is hot, humid, full of oxygen and hints of sulphur. She has never been so close to the angels, and she is afraid to open her eyes, to see the form of it.
The creature bellows, and deep in the mats there are quakes in response. She feels its voice in her bones, in her heart, and remembers how her mother used to tell her stories of the angels at night, how she would tell her own children before they were grown, that the great beasts watch over the First Children of Wormwood.
Enormous fans enclose her body, and the last thing she sees is the golden wings, now mottled with color, the great Lilin speaking to her with light and electricity. Her body is so heavy, her fractured memories such a burden. The fans close, and she sleeps.