Fungal Halo

Lost Goddess

The temple of Lunera is overtaxed. Its resources—and priestesses—have been stretched to their limits caring for the crowd of villagers who lost homes, livelihoods, friends, and family.

Making things worse, our goddess has gone silent, our prayers left unanswered.

It was an incomprehensible disaster—a strike from some angry god, surely—with witnesses reporting a white-hot streak from the heavens crashing into their town, bringing fire and ruin.

Now when we pray to the moon, Lunera no longer responds. She offers no wisdom or warning.

The priestesses have no answers to offer the villagers, who turn to other gods in search of forgiveness.

The moon is still there, but there’s something frightfully inert about her, and her worshippers try to keep from panicking while we offer what material care we can.

We have stores of food still, and medical lore, and shelter from the elements, albeit overcrowded. We can record the names of survivors and reunite some of them with their loved ones.

One poor soul remains an enigma, however. She is especially weak and frail, apparently starving, dragged here unconscious. When she awakened, she had no memory of even her own name, and thus far none of the villagers recognize her as a member of the community.

A traveler, perhaps? Some unlucky wretch who happened to arrive shortly before this tragedy? (Or maybe even the cause of it, I wonder, although such speculation is unkind.)

When she clutches at my robes, asking, “do I know you?” with wild confusion in her eyes, it raises more questions. It’s rare for anyone outside the temple to recognize me as its high priestess. Does she? Should I know her?

I take personal interest in the wretch after that.

Even aside from being an emaciated, amnesiac stranger, every detail makes her more enigmatic. She arrived completely hairless from head to toe, as though it were all burned away, yet she had no visible wounds or scarring, and her hair has regrown normally since then.

Her scrawny figure appears to be deeply neglected, but her teeth are perfect. Her eyes are a striking shade of gray, unlike any other’s. She thrashes in her sleep and describes dreams of conflict with someone she cannot name.

Temple supplies dwindle, and everyone under our care must leave when they are capable so that those worse off can be helped.

We have no clear answers by the time she leaves, when her body regains enough strength for travel, but something continues to sit uneasily with me.

Perhaps she is exactly as she seems, just a particularly lost and unfortunate soul we can only pray finds herself someday.

But if our own goddess needed our help, would we recognize her? Or would we send her away like everyone else when our supplies run low?