The Hermit and the Healer

Our journey across the grassland continues for two more days before we reach the Amufris Forest. We spend a night there before turning south, slowly making our way to a warmer climate. We follow the edge of Kwema Lake, a massive body of water that sits on the southwest curve of Tukanara. We finally reach a coastal city, and I tell you one of the Tukanarans’ bedtime stories.

* * * * *

In a bygone time, there was a woman who isolated herself from her caravan. Even as a young girl, Kelavi was always wandering off into the woods by herself for many hours each day. When she was at camp, she would silently help with the chores before disappearing once more. They often found her sitting behind her wagon weaving.

Kelavi’s parents encouraged her to spend more time with the community, especially the other children in her age group, but Kelavi would always sneak away as soon as her parents turned their backs. Kelavi didn’t hate people. She just preferred solitude to companionship.

When this behavior persisted into adulthood, Kelavi’s parents grew concerned. The caravan’s matchmaker attempted to help them find a husband for her, but Kelavi often went into the woods when she was supposed to meet with the matchmaker. When her parents forced her to see the matchmaker, she always turned down offers to court and was disinterested in finding a husband. The matchmaker thought perhaps she wasn’t interested in men and asked if she would rather have a wife. Kelavi showed no interest in this either.

When Kelavi was in the woods, the caravan members gathered to discuss what to do about her strange behavior. They felt she was a bad influence for the children because they thought it was okay to wander off or refuse to socialize when they didn’t want to. They couldn’t marry her off. With great sadness, they decided to banish her.

When Kelavi returned, they delivered the news. Kelavi promptly packed her things and disappeared into the woods, finally getting the solitude she craved. She slept under the stars every night, constantly moving and finding new places to camp. The birds and colorful plants were all she needed for company.

But as the years passed, Kelavi felt less satisfied with her life in the woods, though she couldn’t pinpoint why. She travelled all over Tukanara in search of something that would spark happiness in her, but she couldn’t find anything.

Then one day, she came across a woman on the shores of Kwema Lake. The woman introduced herself as Martia. She was a healer who was searching the banks of the lake for plants with medicinal properties. Kelavi offered to help, and the two women spent two days gathering plants for Martia’s medicine bag.

The two women talked as they worked, and Kelavi enjoyed listening to Martia’s stories when they sat around the fire at night. When Martia had all her lakeside plants and was ready to gather other plants from the forest, Kelavi was happy to join her.

They spent several days wandering the woods collecting plants. Kelavi felt happier than she ever had, and she was sad when Martia told her it was time for her to return to her home in Olavi.

For many days, Kelavi wandered the forest in a daze. She missed her companion dearly. She returned to Kwema Lake and sat on the bank, staring at her reflection in the water. She sat like that for two days and two nights. On the second night, with the moons shining above her, she finally realized what was missing from her life.

Kelavi had never had a friend before, and so she had never realized the perks of being around people. Now she understood why her caravan was concerned by her behavior. Isolating herself kept her from being happy. Now that she knew the solution to her problem, she was determined to fix it.

She travelled across the Amufris Forest and the Zunar Grassland, swimming across the Venza River and finally reaching Olavi. She asked the first person she encountered where she might find Martia, and he pointed out her wagon.

Kelavi found Martia processing plants outside her home while a man sat teaching two young children how to read. Martia was surprised to see Kelavi, and quickly got up and hugged her. Kelavi was so happy to see her friend. She moved in with Martia and her family, and she made her living weaving for one of the merchants in town. Martia introduced her to the others who lived in Olavi year-round, and Kelavi became good friends with most of them. She lived out the rest of her days in happiness, thanks to her friends.

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