The Old Woman in the Swamp
The light was fading in the Swamps of the Living Moss.
An old woman peered out the front window, straining to make something out in the distance. Normally at this hour she would be warming by a fire, engrossed in volumes of Palavan lore; the kind that has been swept under the rug by generations of Lyverian rule. But tonight the old woman was expecting a visitor, and she sensed the approach of a distant boat through the treacherous swamps toward her home.
I must light the stoop, the old woman thought, then quickly set to the task. In defiance of Lyverian custom, the old woman allowed her fireflies to roam freely about the cabin when they were not needed in the lanterns. She had discovered that crickets were not only easy to catch, but the Razor-Fang Fireflies loved them as a sort of incentive program.
The old woman had to merely fetch the jar of crickets; several willing volunteers came quickly for the treat. The potato-sized insects hovered about her, following her to the stoop with their wings making a surprisingly loud humming racket.
The old woman no longer wore gloves when dealing with these light-providing creatures.
Their fangs can kill, but the ancient Palavan ways are clear: Respect given to animals will always be returned. Besides, they live long lives and the old woman considered them friends. One by one, the giant fireflies accepted their reward and flew into their respective lanterns. In their familiar and comfortable spaces, the fireflies began to glow with a tremendous light which shone out over the swamps.
Standing on the porch, the old woman could now clearly see a light in the distance, which could only mean one thing: A boat. They had made it this far. A sigh of relief filled her lungs, but was clenched short when she remembered that arriving was only half of the arduous journey. Still, she knew the Magi of the Forest would not send people in her direction unless it were a matter of utmost importance.
The old woman thought back to the last time she had visitors. They had come for answers at the Magi’s behest, just as those who traveled on tonight’s boat. The young summoner and his wife had found all the answers they sought and more, but were tragically swallowed by a giant tortoise as they were attempting to leave the swamps. Their raft had been of inferior quality, Minotaur make. Regardless of the specific circumstances of their destruction, the Swamps of the Living Moss had desired the young couple. Perhaps they had possessed a Heliostone that the old woman hadn’t known about, but surely the Magi of the Forest would have warned them of the dangers of carrying a Heliostone into the Swamps of the Living Moss.
The boat was very near now, but the last patch of water that must be crossed was deceivingly deep. Lizards, tortoises, serpents or crocodiles could emerge, and the Living Moss itself has the ability to capsize a boat, if that is its desire. The old woman muttered a quick Seed Prayer of protection for the passengers of the approaching boat, and her heart was calmed.
Why had these people ventured so far to seek the old woman’s stories? Few Lyverians ever showed any interest in the old ways anymore. Still, the Magi had sent his finest tower vulture with the message to receive these visitors and answer all their questions with great haste. For fifty years since her husband died, the old woman has quietly remained here in the cabin they built together, surrounded by the Living Moss. The natural defenses of the swamps are nearly impenetrable, but in spite of the danger, some still seek council.
The old woman crossed her arms, squinted and thought to herself as the small boat reached the ground in front of the cabin: I guess in a world of stories, myths and outright lies, sometimes the truth is worth dying for.
Written by Chris Roberts, Lore Master
Original Steem Post HERE