Full Name: Shesmetet Miratetys Windblade (Duametetys) Name Meanings: Shesmetet: "she who dances with the wind," "magic wind dancer"; Miratetys: "wind singer" Windblade: clan name; Duametetys: "dual mothers of the wind" (note, this family name is private and not shared with outsiders of the clan unless they are close friends) In-game Name: Shesmetet
Race: Firran Gender: Female (cis) Age: 24 (birthday in spring [March]) Hair: Brown shifting to black, worn long Skin: Tawny, striped fur Eyes: Sky blue
Place of Residence: Mahadevi Port Place of Birth: Graymist, Falcorth Plains
Relatives: Onouris (brother), Mesenet (mother, snowlion keeper), Qebui (father) Enemies: Onouris Allies: Most patrons of the Palm, Devigard, Shaman Jinkesta
Appearance: Lithe build (5’7”); fur and hair kept well-groomed but not vainly so; some scars, mostly hidden by fur; prefers to wear kohl to protect her eyesight on sunny days, but also wears it pretty because why not
Fashion of Choice: Hard-wearing clothes for travel and hunting, likes to splurge occasionally for fancier clothing; currently wears a handmade necklace with a single seashell Armor of Choice: Leather Weapons of Choice: Spear and shield
Special Talents: Sensitive to hereafter effects, especially portals; Songcraft magic
History/Biography: Shesmetet’s life started and developed like many other firrans on the Falcorth Plains. As she approached adulthood, she felt the need to wander grow stronger. She explored all corners of the plains, learning how to fight and survive in the wild. Once she became of age, she expanded her travels to the lands around the Plains.
Her brother vanished some years ago, and recently she found a journal kept by him. Partially burned and the writing in near-illegible fragments, Shesmetet has learned that her brother involved himself in dark magics and foul spirits in order to change something in the past - something that involves her. Haunted by a vague dread and seemingly random outbursts of emotion, Shesmetet is trying to put together what it was that her brother had done.
Alignment: Neutral good Motivations: The desire to explore the world and enjoy its beauty Disposition: Kind, open-minded, but will defend herself and others Outlook: Every day is a gift to be enjoyed.
Adelaida: An incredibly sweet, caring elven woman, sister to Drystan. She's open-minded, almost to a fault. It's probably a good thing she has a suspicious brother to watch over her.
Aurumin: A golden-skinned warborn who has found herself in a very bad position. She’s being used by the two men she considers her friends and her loves, but doesn’t or can’t see how bad they are for her. I think her mind has been manipulated by Dariuss--I am all too familiar with the signs. She is an incredible healer, and I think she can do a lot of good in this world if she can just shake herself free of the manipulators. I haven't seen her in a long while, though, and I worry about her fate.
Dariuss: Disgusting waste of flesh. A manipulator and an abuser. Dead. Good riddance.
Dimeo Mikat: Twin brother to Jinreo Mikat. I’ve only encountered him a few times. He tried to murder his own twin brother when he wasn't chosen to lead Devigard. I will have to be very careful around this one in the future, as he is disconcertingly similar yet very different from Jinreo. I wish to heal the rift between the brothers, but I just don't know if it's possible, and I fear making it worse.
Drystan: An elf with a love of and talent with dragons. He says he came from the same reality that Onouris did, but he merged with the Drystan of this reality. It seems awfully confusing. He's a bit awkward at times, but his heart seems to be in the right place.
Eujene: One of a few young men that are stepping out into their lives for the first time and crossing my path. He was terrified by Onouris’ transformation at the Nook, but rallied afterward and helped heal the wounded. He has magic potential, which I’m a little jealous of, having lost my own arcane ability and I hope he develops it to the best of his ability. I think as long as he keeps good role models, he’s going to become quite the hero someday.
Favian Something Something Blah Blah Cock: Pompous asshole. Seems to be great at immediately rubbing people the wrong way and ignores anyone that doesn't fall under his definition of 'fuckable.' His mother seems very kind, however, so I wonder where he got that damnedably big chip on his shoulder from...
Gale: I first met him when I rescued him and North Light from goblins. A frail, frightened young man, recently freed from slavery. Everything is new to him, he’s learning everything for the first time, and I constantly have to remind myself of that. Especially when he gets caught up trying to help some of the worst people because he believes that love can solve everything. I wish he were right.
Grimjack: A strange man who hides his face behind a mask. The first time I saw him, he was bothering Wanderer and that made me angry. But later he defended Wanderer against Dariuss, and helped me after Onouris injured me. There’s a lot more to this one, but he hides it.
Jinreo Mikat: I’d heard of the mayor of Mahadevi Port before, but our paths never really crossed until the speed-dating event to support the earthquake refugees of Solis. He’s charming and kind, and clearly loves the people under his responsibility and wants to change the world for the better for all. There's also a hardness to him, an edge of steel that he wields when the occasion calls for it. 'Mayor' seems not quite fitting for all that he does--he is more like a mahra in my eyes.
I've fallen deeply in love with this man and I desire to spend the rest of my life with him.
Kora: Pink-haired hellion after my own heart. If I had been Harani, I probably would have been just like her. Young, she’s already grabbing life by the balls and taking charge. I met her while she was rescuing Warborn captives and helped her and the others escape. Now she owns the Open Palm and is making a name for herself. I value the friendship we’re forming very much.
Kuyo: He troubles me. He seems a capable necromancer, which is a heresy in of itself, but he also seems to be putting on an act. Trying overmuch to be harder, colder, meaner than he truly is. What is he so desperate to prove that he would risk his soul, even as he does something as selfless as rescue Gale?
Leng Wu: A very strange man, who seems to put on different personalities at different times of the day like someone else would change coats. I prefer to keep him at arm’s length. I haven't seen him for quite some time.
Miahn: An anima, crafted from the pieces of other souls, I think mostly animal, and sharing Vahn's body. They're like brothers, of a sort. Miahn, however, is new to everything and wants to try it all. He requires quite a bit of patience...
North Light: I first met this unusual Warborn when I rescued him from goblins. Genteel, well-spoken and dressed, skilled with manners and music alike. He worked with Kora to reopen the Open Palm, and ran it for a time, but now he’s moved on to the life of a traveling musician. I wish I’d had the opportunity to get to know him better.
Ozlan: This young man has the potential to be a hoodlum, but somehow seems to be getting it wrong. I’ve only met him a few times and he seems to be a giant dork. Which, honestly, I prefer over less savory alternatives.
Seia: Sallium from Nuia, she carries a lot of anger that I empathize with. Tough as nails, but with a caring side to her. She helped me through a very bad night when Onouris made his reappearance. I just wish I hadn’t unintentionally led her on while I was drunk….
Steel Tide: A 'treeborn,' a dryad planted in Sunbite and thus with a warborn form. Big and friendly and very, very new to the world. Gale is his 'father'.
Takaris: I know very little about this firran woman other than she is a Palm regular. But she helped me recently, and for that I thank her.
Tani: Warborn warrior, seems to have some sort of hold over Kuyo. Nice enough most of the time, but she moves like a panther. Those swords are definitely not for show.
Valenti:: High-energy, skilled warrior firran from the Tehmika tribe. She's like the little sister I never had, and brings excitable joy into my day.
Vahn Draren, the Wanderer: This green-haired young man fell into my life while defending others with fire, and that’s when everything started to change. I felt as though I had known him all my life, like a long-lost brother, like the brother I wished I’d had growing up. The truth is far more complicated, involving multiple realities and alternate versions of myself and others. He is gentle and kind, but will bite when pushed far enough. Part of me loves him, but as a sister. I want him to be happy.
Zazussa: One of two of best full-time bartenders the Palm has (Seia being the other). She has a motherly aspect to her that belies her past. Or maybe it exists because of it. She has wings, beautiful white ones. She also will not tolerate any trouble in the Palm.
Samaela: Nosy elf mage that’s overly fond of black feathers. She has some symbiotic (?) relationship with a shadow demon. She's incredibly knowledgeable about the arcane and the like. She also scares me.
Shaman Jinkesta: Shaman of the Windblade tribe, I've know her all my life. She's a lot like Samaela, only grumpier and yet more accessible. She helped me through a very bad time in my life, and I've recently reconnected with her.
Vrekka: Complicated. Simpler now. I am glad he makes Wanderer happy. Part of me wants to stab him in the face with my spear. The desire to kill him was implanted by Onouris. I'm happy to be free of that. He seems like a good person, if a bit of a dork.
Onouris: I want him to die. I want him to get out of my life forever. I want this to end.He. Is. Finally. Dead.
Shesmetet gazed out the window after Wanderer had left her home, her thoughts buzzing. Her brother, or a version of him at least, alive. And in recent contact with Wanderer. And up to no good, as to be expected.
She picked up the lemonade cups and set about cleaning and putting them away. Then she retrieved her spear and her daggers, as well as a whetstone and oil. She sat down at the table and began honing each blade.
She would not fail again.
This time she would see to it that her brother died.
Shesmetet’s note: I found this journal next to the pieces of my brother’s corpse. Most of it had been burned or dissolved. I reproduced as much as I could. I raised my first undead today. It was a glorious moment, filling a shell with arcane power and a drop of my own will so it will obey my every command. Next I will--
--changed my sister’s memory. Now she won’t know that I--
--through dream-walking, I’ve discovered I can glimpse the future. I can guide the paths of others this way and--
I need others but I can never trust them. They will betray me if they learn of their ultimate fate--
--will never forgive that bald-skinned bastard for daring to even look at my sister, much less fuck her.
--fell from the Halcyona cliff practically into my lap. It’s the best opportunity I’ve ever--
[Partial image of an arcane array, drawn in purple and green inks.]
--cast him somewhere in Nuia, but the process killed her. As I intended.
The soul hook is a success. Now I can drain magical energy direction from the soul by controlling the darker emotions. My honor-brother will be--
--n Palm, south of the Queensroad in central Solis. I met a man named Sel--
-- with green hair. Apparently leader of an organization called D--
[A picture of some sort of small equine, strung up by its hooves, throat cut and bled out]
I don’t know how she came back, but she did. I’ll stop this for good. There are things-- [illegible, smeared ink] --have slept for centuries. One of those--[illegible, smeared blood]. --will do anything it takes to destroy them.
[An image of a firran stick figure stabbing a human figure in the torso with a spear.]
Occurs just after the events at the Nook and nearby, 1/9/20
Shesmetet leapt through the hereafter portal, the air changed from the muggy humidity of Mahadevi to the cooler and drier air of Hasla, and she staggered upon landing. She recognized the interior of Wanderer’s cottage and looked around wildly.
It was empty.
She swallowed hard against the nausea coiling in her gut, then stepped out through the open door and down the stairs. She stepped through the understory, hands held protectively over the hole in her leather jerkin, and stopped at the lattice door to the garden.
A figure moved under the trees in the smooth step and swing that she recognized as weapon training. She hesitated as fear crawled up her spine and into her throat. That was the glint of live steel she saw, not a wooden bokken. Fear dragged at her, fear of how he might react, could react with a weapon in hand. Her tail lashed and she grimaced, guilt filling her heart. She told Wanderer she would do this. She had to talk to the Nuian.
“Hello?” she croaked finally.
His form turned, his stance guarded, then he moved into the light of the garden’s lanterns. She recognized him from the wanted poster, and the one time she had seen him before, in a drunken slumber. And like before, a whirlwind of anguish, jealousy, and rage boiled up in her. She shrunk back, arms clutching her stomach.
“You--” He stopped suddenly as he stared at her, recognized her, and she felt her skin crawl. Memories of another me. He swayed to one side, a grimace on his face, caught himself before he fell. Just what did he see? What did he know?
Shesmetet’s tail lashed more, agitated by the unfair knowledge he had of her. She didn’t know him, that knowledge wasn’t his to have! “Vahn’s been hurt!” she all but screamed.
The change that came over the Nuian was immediate. His eyes refocused, his stance steady once more. Alert, voice filled with worry, he asked, “Where is he?”
“Mahadevi, on a rocky outcrop south of the Jungle Nook. He’s not alone, but he needs….” She trailed off, her heart twisting painfully.
“Right,” he responded and sheathed his blade. He pulled a hereafter stone from a belt pouch and looked back at her.
She took another step back, hating that dark-eyed gaze on her. “I’m fine. Just go.”
He pursed his lips but didn’t press the matter. Instead he opened the hereafter portal and jumped through without hesitation.
Shesmetet slowly fell to her knees, arms wrapped around herself, and gave into a nauseated sobbing.
Shesmetet sat up on the bed, her gaze sweeping over the night-shadowed room. She frowned at the cloying silence; even the restless waters of the bay seemed to have fallen completely still. She reached out, then started as she found the other side of the narrow bed empty and cold.
“Jinreo?” she called, but she couldn’t bring her voice above a breathless whisper. She slid out of the bed and padded to the door to nudge it open. The night was suffocating in darkness, the sky muffled in roiling clouds. Shesmetet stepped outside, heart thudding in her chest. The silence hung over the Port like smoke and she saw that none of the lamps were lit. The lamps were always lit. Why weren’t they now?
Blood. She could smell blood. She looked around frantically, then turned as the door quietly clicked shut behind her.
A human handprint shone scarlet on the pale wood, still wet. A smear trailed downward and she followed it with her gaze. More drops of blood littered the stoop and formed a trail leading away from the house. She exhaled a shaking breath and followed it, each step taken with care.
Metal glinted in the darkness on the path leading down. Shesmetet stooped and picked up the pendant, turned it so she could see the elephant’s head embossed on the metal. Ice shot through her. The Devigard crest. Jinreo never took it off.
She broke into a run, following the path to the houses lower on the hill. She reached the first one and found the door wide open like a gaping wound, nothing but darkness within.
The smell of blood was just as strong here, and she looked down to see a partial handprint midway down the door jamb. A child’s handprint.
More red droplets shone in the dust, leading away. They led to the cliff that overlooked the bay.
The sea roared then, a deep boom that seemed to shake the town. Shesmetet took reluctant steps towards the ledge, her hand wrapped tight around the pendant until the edges cut into her palm. The fence was gone, and the trails simply disappeared over the edge.
She stopped and stared out into the darkness. She couldn’t see the water, but she could hear it, roiling angrily between the cliffs, deeper than it ever was, even at the highest tides.
The smell of blood washed over her again--as well as a sour chemical reek that turned her insides to water. Something was moving in the bay, something was causing the sea to go mad. She couldn’t see it, but she sensed it as it rose on bloody remains and squirming appendages. She tried to back away, but her legs had locked up.
A maw of jagged, broken teeth grinned, stained crimson, and whispered, “Sister….”
She tried to scream but the air was as thick as water, choking her voice. He reached for her, loops of tentacles stretching out of the darkness, uncoiling and extending bloody claws.
A sound caused her surroundings to convulse. Her voice, her real voice as it cried out and shredded the nightmare. Then she was awake, panting and shaking, all of her fur standing on end. And he was there, Jinreo was there, awakened by her outcry. Shesmetet immediately clung to him, and he wrapped his strong arms around her, murmured soothing words. She breathed deep, the phantom reek of blood gone, found just her lover’s scent of leather and the sea. She moved a hand to touch the back of his neck and found the chain, the pendant hanging right where it should be.
Shesmetet burrowed her face into his shoulder, and tried to bury the dread that she would never be safe again.
Shesmetet laid on her side on the bed, staring out the open door at the beautiful day, her tail flopped listlessly over the side. Too worried about going outside in case there were spies of Onouris lurking somewhere, too distraught and strung out with anxiety, she hadn’t even had the motivation to get up. Instead she stared and tried to string together a plan, a way to defeat the creature that had such a stranglehold on her life right now. But it felt like trying to hold snow on the hottest day in Sunbite.
Her eyes had nearly closed with the onset of a nap when a soft noise caught her attention. Immediately her eyes were wide and she pulled a throwing knife from under the pillow. She sat up, readying the knife to throw as her heart hammered.
There was a scraping of talons, then a bedraggled crow hopped wearily into the doorway. Shesmetet froze in disbelief. She knew that crow. “Rahab?” she called.
The crow cawed weakly, hopped through the doorway and fell onto his breast with a flailing of wings. Shesmetet set the knife aside and pulled the blanket over her bare shoulders before stepping across the floor. “Easy there, little guy.”
Rahab uttered another weak call as she sat down next to him. She scooped him up gently and examined him. His feathers were in sorry shape, battered as though he’d been through a storm, and she could feel bones prominent underneath. Then she recalled that Samaela had said that he wasn’t a true animal, that he was created from magic, and she wasn’t sure she felt bones at all. “What happened to you?” she murmured.
“Master,” he croaked, in the soft voice that was the avian’s own.
“Samaela did this?” Shesmetet found that difficult to swallow. The elven witch showed more affection for the birds than almost anyone else.
“Brother,” the crow cawed. He lifted a wing, showing a dark hole in his chest.
Shesmetet frowned and stared at the puncture. It looked like no wound she had ever seen, rather more like a borehole into darkness. “Dumah did this?”
“Dumah did this,” Rahab said in her voice.
“Was he trying to kill you?”
She pressed her lips together, trying to understand. “Was he… helping?”
“Help little guy,” Rahab stated. “How can I help you?” she asked, gently stroking the black feathers. “Can I heal you? Will magic work on you?”
“Help magic heal,” Rahab said.
It was worth a try. She rested her hand on the crow’s back and began to sing. Soft sparkles of light drifted on the air, summoned by her voice, and gently touched the familiar’s body. Rahab shuddered and rolled on her hands, but he felt less bony, less on death’s door. Shesmetet sighed and petted the black feathers.
“What happened to little guy,” Rahab spoke up, tilting his head to her, his eyes clearer than before.
“Yes?” Shesmetet asked.
Rahab opened his beak, and this time it was Samaela’s voice that spilled out. “You make me a hostage in my own body.”
She felt herself go cold. “Hostage…. Is it the Other? Does it have control?”
“The Other have control,” Rahab stated in her words.
“What can we do? Is there anything we can do?”
“Kill? Help? Magic?” Rahab mused. After a moment he opened his beak, and while it was Samaela’s voice that came out, the intonations were completely alien. “I Want You Tractable. They Will Remain Alive, Especially Your Precious Apprentice And Your Precious Commander. If You Comply.”
Shesmetet wilted a bit, her ears drooping. “So… it’ll kill her friends if she doesn’t obey it.” She shook her head. “There has to be a way to stop it. Dammit, I wish I knew more about magic. That fucking parasite took away my magic and now it’s come back and I barely know the first thing about it….”
She trailed off, a thought catching her. She did know others who were better trained or better informed. One in particular, at that.
Shesmetet cradled Rahab in her elbow as she got to her feet. She retrieved paper, ink, and a pen, and sat down at the table to start writing a letter, balancing Rahab on her lap. She kept it short and simple--there was too much she wanted to know that couldn’t fit in a small letter. She addressed it to Wanderer, Veroe, Hasla, and set it aside. She pulled another blank sheet and stared at it for a long time. Then she slowly began to write, choosing her words with care.
When it was finished, she addressed it to Graymist, Falcorth. Shesmetet sat back and heaved a sigh. Rahab uttered a soft caw and looked up at her wearily. She gave him a small smile and stroked the feathers. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.”
Shesmetet passed a hand through her hair as she sat outside on the ground under the awning of Jinreo’s home and cursed to herself softly. In front of her were a number of letters dating back several weeks, most of them requests for her services as a hunter. She’d had to turn them all down, citing circumstances beyond her control, because really, who would believe that her life was in danger from a half-eldritch horror from another world? The letters had trickled off, the most recent ones stating that they would seek out the services of others. It wasn’t that she really needed the money, being supported here at the port by Devigard, but her reputation was taking a big hit.
“Fucking Onouris,” she cursed again. She flipped through the papers and found an unopened envelope she had missed, forwarded from her home in Sunbite. The paper felt fine and expensive, and she winced. Probably one of her best clients. She turned it over and was surprised to see that it was sent from the Lady Amis Amon. Shesmetet tapped it thoughtfully against her leg; she had been hired to hunt a bounty by the Lord Amis Amon months back, but she hadn’t met the Lady, not directly. She had seen the woman from a distance, arguing with her husband about said bounty. She remembered shiny black hair and flashing amber eyes, and thought the woman looked South Ishvaran despite living in Lutesong.
Shesmetet turned the envelope back over to open it with a claw, then her attention was caught by movement on the bridge that connected this part of the small town to the rest. She squinted against the sunlight and spotted Zaakir leading a black-furred firran, a youth judging by the short stature. She wondered briefly at that and returned her gaze to the envelope, then paused. Most youths didn’t move with that air of confidence, or wear heavily decorative tunics, or bear a shaman’s staff.
She hastily collected all the letters and stuffed them under her Nuian dictionary, hopped to her feet and dusted off the back of her pants, then stepped out to the front of the house as Zaakir and the person he escorted reached the top of the path. The firran woman was easily a foot shorter than Shesmetet, though she had large ears that seemed to try to make up for the height difference. Her thick black hair was pulled up In a broad bun, her narrow face was painted in golds and greens, and her sharp violet eyes seemed to pierce everything she set her gaze upon.
“Shaman Jinkesta,” Shesmetet greeted, folding her hands in front of her chest and holding them out, as if offering a gift.
“Hunter Shesmetet,” the black-furred firran woman replied, holding one hand out flat, then bringing it to her chest in a gesture of acceptance.
Shesmetet turned to the Harani man and gave him a nod. “Thank you. She’s all right.”
Zaakir returned the nod, silent as always, then moved back down the path to return to the front gate.
Jinkesta watched the Harani a moment before turning back to Shesmetet. “‘She’s all right?’” she echoed, speaking in their native tongue.
Shesmetet smiled weakly. “Ah, there’s been trouble here in the port in the past, and they want to make sure people are who they say they are.”
“Trouble. In a Harani port. Imagine that,” the shaman said flatly.
“It’s not like that,” Shesmetet said defensively, then changed the subject. “Would you like some tea?”
“Yes,” Jinkesta said, then stepped over to unceremoniously take a seat under the awning.
Shesmetet gathered her papers and book, then hurried inside the adobe house. She prepared the kettle, waiting anxiously as the water heated. She wondered if she should tell Jinkesta about Devigard. It was supposed to be a covert organization, not something to tell just anyone, but on the other hand, the shaman was not known to be a tell-tale of any sort. Her thoughts were interrupted by the kettle’s whistle and she prepared two cups of black tea with a rich smoky aroma.
She carried the cups outside, placing one before Jinkesta, then taking a seat in front of the woman, cradling her own cup. “I open my home and my hospitality to you,” she stated, then took a small sip of the hot tea.
Jinkesta then picked up her own cup and sniffed deeply of the steam. Then she sipped from it, acknowledging that said hospitality was safe and accepted. She gave the younger woman a shrewd look. “This home then, is yours?”
“It is home to me,” Shesmetet replied, feeling her cheeks warm. Wanting to avoid that topic for the moment, she immediately asked, “So you got my letter then…?”
“Of course,” Jinkesta replied, narrowing her eyes at the inane question. “Your letter in which you state without any detailed information that you are in danger, that you have lost your spear and need another, stronger one, and which came addressed from a Harani port. Which of these things shall we discuss first?”
“Ah, maybe the spea--”
“Tell me of this place,” the shaman interrupted, waving her free hand towards the town. “Who is their mahra?”
Shesmetet’s cheeks turned pink again. “It’s… not mahra, it’s mayor,” she corrected, giving the Haranyan word.
“Mayor? Is that not the sauce they put on sandwiches?”
“What? No, no no. That’s something else entirely.”
“Tch,” Jinkesta huffed, her tail giving a single lash. “Haranyan, so irritating. Tell me, then, of the mayor.”
“His name is Jinreo Mikat, and he’s been mayor for the past decade. He is… very personable. Spends quite a bit of time with the people, listening, talking, and working alongside them. And if any of his people are threatened or hurt, he has a hard edge that he will put into defending them.” She paused. “He is a good man.”
“A good man? His words, or yours?”
I am not... as good a person as you think I am, the words rang in her memories. “Mine,” Shesmetet stated firmly. “He sees and recognizes his flaws, and works to overcome them.”
Jinkesta sipped her tea, mulling over that. “This town seems very empty.”
“A ship came in today. Everyone capable is down at the docks helping move cargo.”
“You are not,” the shaman pointed out, pointed a clawed finger at her.
Shesmetet winced, her ears flattening against her head. It had not been one of her better mornings. It had started with a black nightmare that had left her feeling nauseated, so much that even her normal sources of comfort weren’t effective, then a sluggish ennui had set in and she didn’t get out of bed until noon. When she finally did rise, she had been too embarrassed to go down to the docks--instead she had decided to tackle her backlog of letters from clients. “I had paperwork to do.”
“No, there’s a mix. Harani, warborn, firran, Sallium from the west. We even have a few elves that are living here. Families too. You’ll see if you stay for the evening meal.”
“I will consider that.” She gazed at Shesmetet for a long moment before saying, “Tell me now, of this danger that stalks you.”
She pressed her lips together--this was always the hard part. “What if I told you there were multiple realities, similar to ours, but different?”
“Yes,” Jinkesta said.
Shesmetet blinked, caught off-guard. “Y-yes?”
“Yes, there are multiple realities,” the shaman stated, her eyes hard. “I am highly concerned that you know of this. It is considered forbidden information, as the knowledge of other realities can often have detrimental effects on those who learn of it. Knowledge that a different version of yourself or your loved ones made different choices, became different people, or have even died--or were never born at all.”
Shesmetet leaned back a little, her tail lashing in agitation as she thought of a brother and a scar and a pendant.
Jinkesta glanced at the tail, then back at Shesmetet’s face. “I take it you have learned such things.”
“Yes,” she admitted softly. “Both different choices and deaths of loved ones alike.”
“Do your best to not dwell on it,” Jinkesta advised, voice sharp. “That way lies madness.”
Shesmetet took her tail in her hands and began to stroke it, trying to calm the agitation. “Someone crossed over from another reality.”
Jinkesta suddenly went very still. “When did this happen?” she asked softly.
“Two and a half years ago, when Onouris died. At the Eye of Night.”
A black scowl settled on the shaman’s face, and she pulled up one of her sleeves. She turned her arm, tattooed sigils just barely visible under her fur, and showed one that glowed a dull red. “I never thought I would have had use for this sigil, and even when it activated I had no idea where or what caused it.” She looked at Shesmetet. “What came through?”
She pressed her lips together. “Another Onouris. One that has made some deal with a creature from Auroria.”
Jinkesta’s ears flattened and she uttered a soft growl. “So, that is what happened. Your brother died because another Onouris had to cancel the paradox effect. But he is still foreign to our reality. Remaining here must be a strain.”
“I don’t think he can go back,” Shesmetet said as she folded her arms over her chest. “The Shesmetet of that reality deflected a spell of his, one that knocked him out of their world and into ours. He’s also hunting a Nuian man who has a sort of spiritual connection to this other reality.”
“Why are you in danger from this Onouris?” Jinkesta asked.
“Because of his sister, the Shesmetet of that world. She married a human, and Onouris took offense to that. So much so that he tried to kill her, and when she did not stay dead, he then made a deal with a monster to try to destroy them.”
Jinkesta sighed and tapped her claws against her tea cup. “So this one is as unstable as the one we knew. Wonderful.”
“More so, perhaps, but in different ways. He’s only partly firran now--he’s half tentacle monster, and seems more so anytime he is encountered.”
“That is why you asked about a weapon to kill demons,” Jinkesta stated.
Shesmetet nodded and rubbed her arms. “We thought we had a weapon, but someone else took it, and we might need it for another purpose now.”
The shaman studied the younger woman for a long moment, watching her fidget. Finally she set the cup on the ground and stated, “The tribe has no such weapon, for fighting demons or otherwise.”
“Oh…” Shesmetet looked down, brow furrowed in worry.
“However,” Jinkesta said to interrupt the hunter’s fretting. “I do have something.” She held up her hands, the first two fingers extended, and drew mirrored sigils in the air.
Shesmetet felt her fur stand on edge, then with a pop of displaced air a long, wrapped item was drawn out of the Hereafter by the shaman.
Jinkesta caught the item in both hands, then carefully rested it on the ground. She untied the leather straps that held the canvas closed, then looked at Shesmetet. “This is not a magic weapon, but it was crafted with magic, long ago.” She flipped the cloth away, revealing a long spear crafted out of black steel. It was simple in its ornamentation, possessing a sharp head with edges that glinted like mirrors in the light. While clean and in good shape, it still bore a number of scratches and scrapes that showed that it was no stranger to battle.
Shesmetet leaned forward, staring in surprise. “What is it called?”
“It was not granted a name when it was crafted. It was one of many in those days. However, it is the only that has survived to this day. It has been called the Spear of the Damned, the Black Iron, the Reaver. Since it is the last one I know of, I have called it the Struggler.”
Shesmetet drew a sharp breath. You are the struggler. As I have struggled, so do you. You will struggle, and you will succeed. Those were the words spoken to her by her alternate self.
Jinkesta gave her another one of her long, scrutinizing stares. Then she held up her hands, palms cupped. “Let me see you.”
Shesmetet hesitated, then slowly scooted forward and placed her chin in the older woman’s hands. Jinkesta leaned forward and stared into her eyes, her violet gaze piercing as she drew a long, slow breath.
“You have passed through death,” the shaman remarked softly, and Shesmetet gave a tiny nod in the woman’s hands. Jinkesta’s brow furrowed. “There was a scar over your spirit the last time I tried to look, like webbing over a mirror. It is not there now. Has your magic returned?”
“It has,” Shesmetet confirmed softly. “The foreign Onouris had implanted a parasite in me to keep himself from dying permanently, and it also blocked my magic. Then he took that memory, so I had no idea what had even happened to me until recently.”
Jinkesta lowered her hands, then briefly touched the younger woman’s brow in a comforting gesture. “This spear, while not magic in of itself, can however amplify the magic of its wielder, no matter if they be warrior or mage.”
Shesmetet looked down at the black steel spear. “And… you have brought it to me?”
The shaman reached down and lifted the spear in her hands, then held it out to the hunter. “It has remained in my care for many years, unused, unneeded. It seems there is need for it now.”
Shesmetet reached out gingerly to take it in her hands. It felt lighter than she expected, though with a certain heft that said it could deliver a devastating blow. She rose to her feet and took a few steps back, then gave the spear a careful twirl in her hands. It moved like silk, the sharp head hissing through the air. The long haft took both hands to manage, however. “I won’t be able to use a shield with it,” she remarked, voice soft with awe.
“Then take someone to guard your flanks when you enter battle,” Jinkesta stated. “Do not go into this fight alone.”
“I’m not alone,” Shesmetet said quietly as she studied the spear, then reached a decision. “There is an organization here called Devigard. They work covertly to help others in need, especially those who are repressed or enslaved. They’ve helped me, helped protect me during this time. They’re led by the mayor of this port, Jinreo Mikat.”
Jinkesta cocked her head. “Revolutionaries?”
Shesmetet shook hers in reply. “They want peace, but they want it for everyone. But they’re also willing to fight to protect themselves and for those who cannot protect themselves.”
“Devi-gard,” Jinkesta murmured, testing the name.
“If you’re going to analyze names, then you should know it comes from ‘Mahadevi,’ since that is where they are based,” Shesmetet pointed out wryly.
“There is power in a name no matter its origin. You know that, Shesmetet Duametetys,” the shaman chided.
Shesmetet lowered her gaze for a moment--as the shaman, Jinkesta of course knew all of the family names of the tribe members, names that were always kept private. “I’ve shared my name with another,” she spoke up, raising her eyes again.
Jinkesta’s brows lifted. “A suitor?”
“A mate,” she admitted, her tail tip switching rapidly.
The shaman’s ears twitched and her tail lashed once. “A bound mate?”
“No, no,” Shesmetet said, her face turning pink. “I haven’t even broached that idea yet. It’s too soon.”
“‘Too soon’ is often relative,” Jinkesta pointed out. “But you are facing much right now. It is best to not make that sort of decision hastily.”
“That’s very true,” Shesmetet agreed as she resumed her seat, holding the spear across her lap.
Jinkesta picked up her cup of tea and took another sip. “I will stay for the evening meal. We will talk of news of the tribe that you need to hear, and discuss the return of your magic. As well, I want to meet your Mayor Jinreo Mikat. And your mate,” she stated, in that tone of voice that said she damn well knew they were one and the same.
Shesmetet smiled weakly. It was going to be an interesting day.