After Death Guide (Playthrough 2)
Whenever I release a new game, I like to show off examples of how the game is played. There's a lot more playtesting behind the scenes, but final run-throughs with pretty dice, cards, etc. are always fun to do once the project is complete.
For this particular session, I decided to play only one "night," and to go with whatever the cards threw at me.
Using my Druid Animal Oracle deck and a handmade bone die, I promptly rolled a 3 and drew some interesting cards.
Record of play begins below.
The fire rises from the land like a spirit and I am born, wild and raging, divine and cleansing. In days, the whole valley is burned, and though many moved on before the necessary cleansing, or rose free from their lost bodies, a few souls remain, lingering here and there in the ashes, unable or unwilling to move on.
But I am the fire, the hot spirit set free from within the land, tied to the cycle of all things and driven to maintain it. While the physical manifestation of my sacred duty may be complete when the last of the embers turns to ashes, it is not yet time to rest. There is cleansing yet to do.
The spirit of the salmon is the first that I find, and as is the nature of salmon after spawning, he is nearly ready to move on. The fire has taken away much that is green and cool about this place, but as the spirit of the Salmon slowly circles his nest, I know that the cleansing of the land is not what bothers him. The young ones, the fate of his spawn- that is what preoccupies his spirit.
And so I show him a vision of cycles, of his parents, and of the parents that came before them. I show him the memories of the land and water, the generations upon generations of salmon that have come to this place, this stream, this nest, each spawning a new legacy to thrive and flow and spawn again. This nest will be no bad exception. The lesson of the water is to flow, and as the salmon begins to embrace the flow, I see the first signs of life already stirring inside the nest. "Trust it," I whisper to him, and he does. He trusts the flow, just as I must, just as all must so do.
The spirit of the fox receives my visit next, and she is more reticent than the salmon was. This is not her first life as a fox in this forest, but it is the first one that has been ended by fire. Her memories are full of short lives silenced by ice and teeth and traps, and she paces, frustrated, though ashes that were once so much more.
"Maybe it is time to try something new," I suggest, offering visions of other lives in other places, new perspectives that can be gathered by living elsewhere for a time. "You are not bound to this forest as I am," I remind her. "You may return someday, but there is no reason to stay and repeat these cycles of pain."
"You are not so bound as you believe," she says to me, and with a quick twitch of her nose, she is gone, sprinting through the trees in search of other lives, other futures in other places and times, but her words leave me thoughtful, leave me considering as I seek out the last soul caught between, the spirit of a majestic swan silenced by the raging heat of my wildfire.
Already, I can hear his cries. "Look how grand my wings were!" he trumpets. "Look how well groomed my feathers were!"
The swan is waiting for me when I arrive, wings spread and open to the sky. Instead of the anger I expected, the swan greets me with quiet familiarity, like an old friend.
"This is not the first wildfire I have fallen to, nor will it likely be the last," the swan says. "Such things flow in cycles, and I have come to accept and see the beauty in it."
"Without the cleansing away of the old growth, there would be no room for the new growth," I offer, admiring the spirit of the swan.
"Each time I have been born anew, I have become better for it," the swan-spirit tells me. "This was the most interesting and fulfilling life I've lived yet. I'm excited to see what wonders the next will bring."
"I hope that you and I will meet again so that you might share them with me," I tell him. "But for now, it is time to move on, and for me to go back into the land to rest."
"Until you are needed again?" The swan asks.
"Until I am needed again," I affirm, but as the swan fades away and I return to the earth, I reflect on the fox's words and wonder, just wonder, if things will always unfold this way, or if even I might someday change, grow and move on.
Get your copy of After Death Guide here.
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