Ashar, the village herbalist, wandered through the darkened forest
. She stepped carefully so as to leave no trail
behind her, because if someone else knew where the thing she was hunting was, she could lose her position of power
in the village
Ashar had lived a long
and meaningful life at the age of 23. Her people did not live much longer than the animals
off of, and as far as they were concerned
, she was an old woman
, and no man would have her as a wife
now. This was of no matter to her, as they would all fear her power
over human life.
It was a full moon
, tonight, the only one in April
. Her bare feet
felt the slippery leaves and needles underfoot, and she did not bother to shield herself
from the gentle rain
. Instead, she welcomed the rhythmic thrumming
of the droplets on her head and back.
Stopping short, she cursed to herself under her breath. Ashar had almost flattened a tiny field
of mushrooms with her feet, so heavy with weariness
was she. Yes, she thought, these were the ones she sought, the mushrooms that had the power to return life
, or take it away
from another human. The ancient healer
ways her mother had handed down to her spoke at length about these mushrooms, but nobody had been lucky enough to find them. Ashar quickly filled her basket with dozens of the almost microscopic fungi
, before mentally marking the spot and swiftly walking back towards the village.
Ashar didn't notice that she had not found mushrooms, but instead some other plant, one her people had found deadly to the touch
. Ashar forgot that sometimes this plant looked like mushrooms after a warm April rain.
The villagers found her the next morn, with a basketful of poisonous plant shoots still clutched in her hands. They nodded their heads knowingly, she had not wanted to live beyond her years, when she could not care for herself. Ashar was always wise, they said. The villagers brought the basket to the village, along with a new tradition, for those as wise as Ashar, the elders would gain their final respect through the plant that looked like mushrooms after a warm April rain.
This was a nodeshell. Now it isn't.