Friday, January 20, 2017

Faiths of Sublanarya: Goddess of Witchcraft Part 4: Morgana La Fey the Terrible and Magnificent

Our next story begins not directly with the goddess but with her people:

When an animal dies in Sublanarya, they move onto the afterlife just the same as any other sentient life forms, usually finding an immortal resting place in the Heavens. When animals die in the Feywild, they instead become spirits until they can reincarnate. Being touched by the fey changes these animals and, after many generations, a tribe of these animal spirits became sentient and known as the Yenna-goshi.

Yenna-goshi are one of the most mysterious species of shape-changers since they have a non-corporeal spirit form, an animal form, and a humanoid like form. They are strange primal entities that, in their humanoid form, having a mix of nondescript animal traits obscured by a cloak of animal hides with great glowing eyes looking out from under the hood.They usually watch over special places of nature in the Feywild and material plane. They are the spirits often responsible for the creation of Hengeyokai, sentient animals, born from normal animals, with the ability to transform into a human-like form. They are responsible for other yokai such as giant beasts, "animal gods", that serve as paragons of their kind and protectors of nature. There are also responsible for the Tuath De Yenna or Tuathans.

Thousands of years ago, there was a tribe of humans. They were known to be a peaceful and friendly craftsmen with use of bright colors, ornate patterns and unusual materials that create designs that were somehow both natural and unnatural. They were a simple people, living in harmony with the land, and did not seek war. They once had a homeland but were chased out by invaders. They became lost on a foggy morning and found themselves in a strange land, having crossed over into the Feywild, and it seemed there was no escape.

The tribe was lost in a strange and dangerous place, but they soon found friends. They had found themselves in a secluded forest, deep in the Dawn realm, protected by the yenna-goshi. Usually anyone foolish enough to step into or, much worse, damage the lands of the yenna-goshi would be scared off or meet some misfortune. It is said the yenna-goshi were bewitched by the colorful garments and tents of the people, the aroma of their tea and food, and the songs played by the young and old. Rather than scaring off the tribe, the yenna-goshi helped the humans and befriended them, allowing them to make the woods their home.

And, as the humans spent time in the Feywild, they changed as they were touched by the spirit of the animals. They gained the ability to shape-change into animals, they learned fey magic and knowledge, and helped protect the forests of the yenna-goshi. In time, they became known as the Tuatha de Yenna-goshi or "tribe of the animal spirits" or tuathans ("the tribespeople") for short.

Some tuathans eventually discovered a way to return to the material plane and, with their knowledge of fey magic, shape-shifting, and other gifts they had obtained abroad, they became a powerful small empire that stood for a thousand years. And then, mysteriously, the empire collapsed. Today, descendants of the tuathans can be found in the material plane and it is still believed they live hidden away in the forests of the yenna-goshi. They do not advertise their shape-shifting or heritage to avoid the superstitious fear of humans but also other enemies.

A survivor of the tuathan empire, some even believe her to have been the daughter of a yenna-goshi, attained an unusually long lifespan, and the powers of a lesser god. She had many titles: the Morrigan, the Raveness, the Temptress, and the Kingslayer. She is Morgana La Fey and she is the enemy of all tuathans.

Most people of Sublanarya have never heard of the Tuathans but they have heard of Morgana La Fey the Witch of the Blackened Heath. She appears in many stories and tales, as an enchantress, as a monster, and as an archetypal "wicked witch". There are too many stories for all too be accurate but the most popular story is the fairy tale of Prunella and the Witch's Son.

Once upon a time, in the little kingdom of La and Lang, there was a girl named Prunella.

Every day Prunella would walk home from the girl's school and pluck a plum from a particularly beautiful tree along the road that housed a host of friendly pixies. She did not know that tree belonged to Morgana la Fey and, one day while picking a ripe treat, she was caught in the act by the witch. Morgana threatened to eat a pixie for each plum the girl had stolen but Prunella pleaded for a chance to pay Morgana back, pledging to serve Morgana until her debt was fulfilled, and Morgana agreed. She forced the girl into her service and the girl grew up as the witch's captive, serving as a servant in her black tower, where she endured great cruelty at the hands of the witch.

Morgana took great pleasure in holding beautiful things against their will, collecting them like trophies, and tormenting them. Morgana would trip the girl, pull at her hair, and hex her to trip, causing her to break things and spill her water bucket, and threaten to punish the pixies or other servants for her clumsiness.

One day, when Prunella had grown to her teenage years, Morgana told the girl to fetch a pail of water from the well and, if she did not return, the witch would make her cry enough to fill it. Prunella went to the well but no matter how much she tried, the pail would not hold water, as if bewitched. She sunk to the floor by the well, weeping in defeat and misery at her fate, when she was approached by Morgana's son Sea-Bell.

Sea-Bell had always been forbidden to talk to the servants but, having reached the age when a boy notices a girl, he had taken an interest in Prunella. He made her an offer: in exchange for a kiss, he promised to fill the bucket. The girl had known the boy to play tricks just like his mother and refused the offer. He shrugged, walked to the well, and, without another word, filled her bucket and handed it to her. He then walked away.

Prunella walked into the tower and gave the witch the water. Morgana was angry. She did not know how the girl had managed to overcome her witchcraft but she would never admit to her trickery. And so she set the girl to another impossible task.

Morgana pushed the girl into the kitchen and gave her some wheat to make bread before the witch returned from a trip to town. If the bread was not made by the time the witch returned, she threatened to make her bake a pie with the pixies instead. The girl knew that it was another trick but tried her best. It was no use, the dough was like rubber, and she was soon in tears again.

Sea-Bell appeared and made another offer: a kiss for the bread. She refused. And, again, he helped her anyway before hurrying off.

When Morgana returned and saw the perfectly baked loaf of bread she was furious. Furthermore, her son's attentions towards the girl had not escaped the witch and she sought to separate them. The witch told Prunella that she had left her hat at her house in town and the girl was to go to town and retrieve it for her.

Sea-Bell knew that his mother meant to keep the girl there, by force of the cursed servants of that house, and, before Prunella left, offered to save her for a kiss: she refused. And yet, again, he gave her a gift. This time he gave her a basket with a can of oil, a beef bone, a rope and a broom. He told her to oil the gate, give the beef bone to the guard dog, give the rope to the girl pulling buckets of water from the well, and to give the broom the woman cleaning the fireplace with her tongue. She did as she was told, going into the townhouse and retrieving the hat and, the woman, girl, dog, and even the gate were so grateful that they disobeyed their mistress and let her leave.

When she returned to the tower, Morgana was so enraged that she decided enough was enough. She told the girl that she had been having trouble sleeping and wished to know which roosters crowed in the surrounding farms. She wanted to know what color they were and how many times they each crowed. She said if Prunella failed, she would turn her into a plum tree but, if she succeed, Morgana offered to release her from her debt.  To ensure her failure, the witch made her clean and cook and perform so many chores she would be exhausted.

That night, she sat beneath the plum tree and Sea-Bell came to her, knowing that the task was impossible. He asked for a kiss and, a third time, she refused him. At first, she tried to listen but she grew wearier and wearier from the day's labor and fell asleep. Before his mother awoke, Sea-Bell stirred Prunella and told her each time the yellow, the blue and red roosters crowed that night and morning, making sure she knew exactly the right amount. Prunella was so overwhelmed with his goodness that she gave Sea-Bell a small kiss on the cheek, leaving him there stunned under the plum tree as she hurried to prepare his mother's breakfast.

When Morgana came downstairs, smugly, assuming she had bested the girl, would soon be rid of her and would soon have a new plum tree. When the girl told her the exact numbers and colors, she realized that somehow the girl had cheated. Lividly, Morgana grabbed the girl and dragged her to the yard. When Sea-Bell heard the girl crying and begging, he leapt from the tree and sprang on his mother to save the girl.

Prunella watched as the two transformed into a pair of feathered beasts-- Morgana into a midnight black dragon and Sea-Bell into a pearlescent white dragon-- and fought in the sky above. The two tumbled and fought, crashing into the nearby tower, and, when the dust settled, the Sea-Bell stumbled forward, returned to his human form, and as she caught him, he collaped, dead in her arms.

This time, when Prunella broke down into tears and wailed, her misfortune was worse than ever before. Her anguish was heard by the pixies for whom she had suffered all those years and they rushed to her side. As she wept heavy tears, holding the boy to her, the fairies gathered around them and began to cry as well. As she did, she leaned down and laid a kiss upon his lips.

As Prunella gave the boy the token of affection, the pixies hummed a spell and, when she broke the kiss, the boy's eyes opened. Together they left the broken tower, going to town where they were greeted as heroes for defeating the black dragon that had terrorized the land, and moved into Morgana's townhouse. Eventually, the two did fall in love and got married.

For the rest of their lives, whenever Prunella needed help, Sea-Bell was there to lend a hand without any mention of compensation. And yet, she never again hesitated to reward him with a kiss. Witch's son or not, he was hers and she was his.

And that's as happily ever after as could be imagined. Or so it seems.

Sometimes, when near the wood, out of the corner of their eye, they could swear they saw a hooded woman but, before they could turn around to look its way, it was replaced with the flapping of a crow's wings.

Morgana la Fey may have been defeated, she may have even lost her most precious treasure to a girl she hated, but it would take more than the love of a mere mortal to quench the persistence of the Mistress of Black Wing.

The Terrible and Magnificent, the Morrigan, the Raveness, the Mistress, the Temptress, the Kingslayer

New Gods

Power Level
Lesser Deity

Neutral Evil

A pair of black crow's wings framing a crown

Witchcraft, cruelty, domination, shape-shifting, flight

Trickery, Arcana, Nature

Hags, witches, evil shape-shifters, dragons,
Favored Weapon
The dagger

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