Freebie Mondays: Meet the Seed Matron

Freebie Mondays: Meet the Seed Matron

How does a Cryptonian goddess gain ascendency?

Smoke billowed from the necks of beakers and liquid bubbled inside thin vials as Tauldar surveyed her latest set of handiwork. She checked the temperature dials of her instruments and made tiny adjustments, all while humming to herself. Here she sprinkled a small pinch of dust and there she added a scoop of recently crushed leaves to an elixir, checking the colors carefully to make sure she hadn’t fouled any of her mixtures.

Row upon row of experiments lined the even rows of tables set within her laboratory, and each received an equal amount of attention before the lady moved on, the white fabric of her jacket flowing behind her.

On the far sides of the room sat elevated wooden boxes, each containing a particular type of soil, and from these planters spouted thick green leaves and wide blossoms of every color. They seemed to shiver with anticipation as their patron approached to check the moisture levels of their beds and run her fingers gently along their green stems.

When she finished making her observations, Tauldar returned to one of her chemistry tables and carefully slid a glass tube from its mooring. She held the glass aloft to examine the liquid in the bright light of her workspace. Then, with a satisfied sound, she returned to the flowerbed and sprinkled the liquid onto her precious specimens.

Again the plants seemed to shiver as they received the gift of their mistress. In many places, the color of the blossoms grew brighter and their petals opened a little wider as vitality filled the plants to their fullest.

Soft scratches accompanied the notes Tauldar made to record her observations, but her expression could not have been more pleased.

If not for a sharp knock at her door, the seed matron might have spent all day closeted in this bright space, moving back and forth between the beds, testing the results of her many concoctions. She was annoyed about the interruption, but knew better to ignore her siblings.

Mustering her serenest smile, Tauldar set her clipboard aside and glided to the door. Her smile became surprise when she saw the esteemed figure that waited outside and, instantly, she stepped back and bowed her head to allow the Celestial Mother to pass.

“Esteemed Aleonath,” she murmured as the creator goddess stepped into her laboratory and swept it with her gaze, “to what do I owe such a great honor?”

“I have heard great things about the products produced by your hand,” the goddess replied, her focus still on her surroundings and her expression impossible to read. Often her eyes seemed to drift toward the planters tucked along the wall and rake appreciatively the bright blossoms found there.

At last the goddess closed the distance to stand before the objects of her curiosity, and her fingers lightly brushed the leaves of the flourishing plants. “Tell me about these,” she prompted, her tone polite, though Tauldur sensed this was more a command than a request.

Quickly, the seed matron rushed to the side of her sister, the brightest grin splitting her lips. “These are mostly decorative, my lady, but see how the stems are now strong enough to support great height? No longer will they be trampled beneath unforgiving feet because they can blossom no higher than a few inches from the ground. See how their leaves are long and sturdy, granting greater support, and the color of the blossoms now varies greatly between blue, purple and pink depending on the amount of sunlight and the quality of the soil.”

It was clear that Tauldur could have gone on at length about this accomplishment. But the Celestial Mother smiled and moved on to the next bed, once again brushing a plant with her fingers. “And these?” she prompted, her tone expectant.

“Oh, that is another experiment all together,” Tauldar cooed and trotted in the Celestial Mother’s wake. “These are berry bushes. They used to produce merely a handful of clusters through the fullness of their life, but I have convinced them to continuously produce fruit so long as there is light and water in ample supply as they now draw nutrients far more efficiently from their surrounding environment.”

Without comment, the Celestial Mother gently brushed aside the largest of the leaves and took hold of one of the sweet berries hanging from its vine. With a deft motion, she pulled three from their stems and popped them into her mouth.

Tauldar had tasted many times the sweet juices of this particular fruit, and she felt endless pleasure when the greatest of her sisters made a soft, appreciative sound as it ran across her tongue.

“Tell me more,” the Celestial Mother prompted, her tone now more excited and fond than it had been when the interview started. “What about those?” she added, gesturing to a group of wide pod-like protrusion in one of the far beds.

“Oh… those were a nasty little surprise for some creatures who have been attempting to make off with the fruits of my labors,” Tauldar replied with a smug smile. “They have developed a taste for flesh. But don’t worry, Great Mother, I keep them well fed. They shall not trouble you.”

Aleonath’s eyes sparkled brightly when at last she turned to face her lesser sister, and a hint of a smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “I am impressed,” she admitted. “When our siblings boasted about the consistency of your results, I thought their praise heavily exaggerated, but I see now that you are quite diligent in your studies.”

Tauldar beamed. Never had she imagined her work would catch the Celestial Mother’s eye, but she prided herself on producing the hardiest of plant life no matter the conditions they would be forced to endure.

“I think, perhaps, it is time you were recognized for your accomplishments,” Aleonath added as she swept back toward the door. “Therefore, I hereby invite you to the next council meeting.”

Tauldar gasped, but the sound lodged in her throat. The council of the elder gods was highly coveted, and only those favored by one of the core pantheon were allowed to attend.

Never in her wildest dreams had she imagined her efforts would lead to an invitation!

“Great Mother, I cannot express my gratitude that you would honor me thus. Nothing would please me more than to do as you ask.”

“Good,” Aleonath replied, smug herself as she opened the door to the laboratory. “And while you prepare, please also prepare several packets of your finest specimens. I believe it is time to seed them in the worlds below. You have clearly perfected your craft beyond that of your kin. It is time you step into the role for which you are so clearly sorted.”

And so the Seed Matron bowed, pleased beyond measure that she would soon walk among the light of the brightest stars and, hopefully, shine herself.

Meet the Seed Matron

While the Celestial Mother is generally considered to be the goddess of creation and mother of all sentient races, Tauldar – the Seed Matron – holds sway over plant and wildlife. She is akin to Mother Nature, embodying the seasons and the cycle of life. Thus the Seed Matron has an appearance for spring, summer, winter and fall and moves through them with fair regularity – though the speed and timing would vary depending on the planet a worshiper occupied.

Not only is Tauldar responsible for the turning of the seasons, she is considered to be the goddess of hearth and harvest. She is heavily associated with the life-giving forces of soil, stone and water. She makes rain fall and rivers flow, and she seeds the soil with the nutrients required for plants to properly grow. As the plant goddess, she is also regarded as the creator and keeper of poisons.

Tauldar is often invoked by elemental mages that favor stone, wood or water crafting, and is often a patron to druids and rangers. Many people plant gardens outside their front or back doors – or in window boxes – to invoke Tauldar’s protection. Some still offer part of the yield of their harvest to ensure her good favor for the coming year.

Though Tauldar has many forms depending on the season, she is often depicted as a dryad-like creature with bark skin, floral hair and leaves making up her dress. Her messengers take the form of blossoms or fungus. The willow-the-wisp is said to be among her favorite messengers, though they are well known for leading unwary travelers astray.

Of all the gods, Tauldar is generally considered to be the most wrathful. Though her power doesn’t compare with that of the Celestial Mother, she is still most likely to retaliate against mortals (or other gods) who cross her. There are many stories of Tauldar leaving traps in the form of plants such as man-eating blossoms or strangling vines. Even those who do not worship the Seed Matron agree that it is best to show respect to her, her creations and her messengers lest ye fall afoul of her temper.

Tauldar is said to be locked in an endless struggle against the dragon lord, Queach – the god of magic (especially fire and lightning). Together, the two of them form a celestial ying/yang of balance between creative and destructive forces. What Tauldar builds, Queach destroys. What Queach destroys, Tauldar restores to new life, thus creating the universe’s never-ending cycle of life and death. More directly, the two gods are often at odds with each other. When they are not trying to best each other in a battle of wits or magic, they tend to back opposing sides in lesser conflicts – hoping to gain the upper hand without dirtying their fingers.

Some legends claim that Tauldar desired Agos and became jealous of his relationship with the Celestial Mother. Others claim that as a result of his constant rejections, she sided with the Celestial Mother after the death of the Reaper and agreed that Agos should suffer exile. Yet others insist that Tauldar saw the benefits of removing the Reaper from the divine council, since the Reaper also often destroys her creations. Thus she took Agos’s side in the war of the gods. Some even claim she backed Agos so strongly that she and Queach set aside their difference until the matter could be resolved.

But Ashvaleryan tells a different tale…

Into each creation crafted by the Celestial Mother’s hand she placed a spark of her own divine influence. So it should come as no surprise that several of those sparks took deep root and gave birth to unexpected creations.

Such is the case of the Seed Matron who awoke first in a world of haze and fog, knowing only the gentle caress of wind and rain and the warmth of bright sunshine. For many seasons and many cycles, no other sensations reached her in her thick and wooden cocoon.

But as the roots of a tree worm deeper into the soil to seek undiscovered nutrients and new flow of elusive water, so too did the Seed Matron’s mind reach outward to grasp new concepts and new understanding of the forest in which she dwelt.

So did the branches of her tree grow higher than those surrounding it and the roots of her trunk reach deeper into the soil than ever another tree has reached, until they tapped into the divine energy that connects all things within the universe.

Within that divine flow, the Seed Matron found knowledge known only to the gods. As soon as this information flowed into her developing mind, she awakened to full consciousness. Not only was she aware of the forest in which her tree fostered life and growth, but she connected with the vast cosmos and the energy which flows through it, connecting and sustaining each living being.

In that moment, the Celestial Mother became aware of this new awakening and, with a bright flash of light, appeared at the base of the tree. She set her palm to the rough bark and projected her thoughts deep within its core, where she found a fully formed mind waiting to answer her.

“From whence do you come?” she asked, curiosity and concern at war in her voice.

“From the depths of the earth and the bright light of the sun,” came the answer as the branches shifted and the bark gave way to the formation of a beautiful face with delicate features. “Though naught else can I say, for I have known nothing but the forest in my vicinity for many a long season.”

“Yet the spark of the divine flows through your sap,” the Celestial Mother mused as she beheld this, her most unexpected creation.

“Indeed,” the Seed Matron replied. “And the roots of my tree connect me to the plants of this grand forest even as my branches connect me with the birds and insects and other creatures which dwell within this fine place. I feel each of them moving through me, and my heart beats in time with theirs, allowing me to better adjust my growth to their needs.”

“You speak with true eloquence,” the Celestial Mother replied, surprised. “But perhaps I should expect as much from one grown from my own divine spark. You are too great to be thus contained any longer,” she added as she drew her hand away from the tree’s trunk. “You must emerge and take your place among those you tend so that they may truly know and appreciate your efforts.”

The Celestial Mother made a grasping, parting motion, and the rift in the tree’s trunk grew larger. The face disappeared back into the depths of the shadows, but only for a moment. Then glimmering green arms stretched forth, pressing the edges of the rift aside so that a body could emerge.

The Seed Matron pulled first hear head free of the tree, then her shoulders and, at last, each foot stepped one at a time from the depths of the tree’s trunk to form light impressions in the mud at the base of the tree.

In wonder and awe, the Seed Matron set hands on her chest and breathed the fresh air. The wind rustled through the green leaves of her hair, and gentle blossoms parted to soak in the gentle rays of the sun’s light. The Seed Matron closed her eyes and smiled, allowing all the sensations of her home to wash over her anew, identifying the smells and sensations of the forest with her new limbs.

Then she opened her eyes and turned to gaze upon the Celestial Mother with gratitude. “Never did I imagine I would be able to move so freely among my forest. With these hands, I can plant new seeds and harvest fruits to be shared among the creatures which roost in my branches. Indeed, I can cultivate far more life now that I can move freely than ever I was able to encourage from the depths of my tree shell.”

“So shall it be,” the Celestial Mother agreed as she laid a hand on the Seed Matron’s shoulder. “For this forest – and all other forests – I give into your care. So long as this, the tree heart from which you sprung, grows tall and proud and washed within this divine essence, so shall you and your efforts continue. For you were born from the heart of the universe to be its guardian, and every plant that grows or beast that roams shall answer your call.”

“Are you certain it should be so, Great Mother?” the Seed Matron protested, suddenly aghast. For she had only just become aware of the vastness of the universe and knew it was no small honor nor no small responsibility this great goddess placed upon her shoulders. “Surely there is one more knowledgeable and therefore more worthy of undertaking this divine quest!”

But the Celestial Mother shook her head. “Only one who is born from a time and place can rightfully serve as its guardian. The forest chose you and so you must answer its call. Fear not, for your roots will ever remain grounded in the essence which demands your guidance and, thus, I trust your good sense will never fail.”

Reassured by the Celestial Mother’s declaration, the Seed Matron bowed her head, accepting with grace the task placed in her hands. And thus did she begin her journey, traveling from tree to tree, from forest to forest and field to field, ensuring the green of flourishing plant life and the wild roaming of the beasts should never cease.

And thus do the forests and fields remain wild and lush even to this day.

. . .
This is part of a new series developing lore for my Tales of Cryptonia homebrew D&D campaign. (Which you can learn more about here.)

Incidentally, I streamed the creation of this post in case you want to watch it come together!

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