In north-western Yoremba, where the land lifts into the broken mountains of Unhur’ahn, there is a plateau which is a holy place for Erde’s shape-changers. It is a place of immense power where the Bright Mother is called to manifest.
The plateau is roughly square, approximately one quarter mile on each side. To the west and north the plateau butts up against the mountain. To the east and south it has a 1500’ drop-off. There is no established trail or track up to the plateau; it is a treacherous climb, unless one has wings.
A stream tumbles down from the mountain in the west, meanders across the plateau, then plunges over the southern edge to the mountain’s foot. Grass, wildflowers, and bushes thrive near the water. Outside of this fertile green strip, the landscape is dry and rocky, painted in shades of orange, red, brown, and yellow.
Near the middle of the plateau, between the stream and the mountain, is a bowl-shaped hollow in the rock. About five feet across, with smooth sides, it looks like a giant hand took a ladle and simply scooped out the rock. This is the Bright Mother’s Fountain, and there is nothing else remarkable about it, until the proper ritual is performed.
The shape-changers of Erde gather on the plateau every few years to celebrate, exchange news, connect with each other, and commune with the Bright Mother. At midday, at the height of their celebration, those who want or need the Bright Mother’s Blessing, gather around the fountain. They Dance in a complicated rhythm, the movements of their feet drawing runes in the air. They play drums and other musical instruments, and they chant the words to an ancient summoning.
As they dance and play and chant, the fountain fills with light that sparkles and bubbles like golden champagne. The light becomes a column that rises as far into the sky as one can see, connecting the earth and the sun. For a brief time the Bright Mother manifests in this light, and her children can ask questions of her, or request favors. Some of the shape-changers, those who are cursed with lycanthropy, will enter the light and bathe in it to cleanse themselves of the taint of their curse. If they survive, they can choose to return to their previous form or to become true shape-changers, able to shift at will and without the blood thirst of the curse. Others wish to change their forms (and thus their clans), which they can do if they survive, shedding their old animal shapes and gaining new ones.
The Bright Mother asks nothing in return, simply basking in the worship and love of her children as they bathe in her purifying light.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.