REBORN NAME: Shauni Tatu
GIVEN NAME: Shani Tatu
OCCUPATION: High Priestess, Leader of the Nature Tribe
RELATIVES: parents, brother and twin sister [deceased], Mariam [cousin]
KNOWN AFFILIATION: Mother Nature | Momma Mae | Jamal Waylan
EDUCATION: Tribal Rituals and other teachings. Spirit Magic, Nature Magic, Hand to hand combat, knife, sword and other crude weapons training.
PERSONALITY: loving, naive, paranoid, faithful, purpose-centered.
POWERS/SKILLS: Nature powers. Spirit Magic, Nature Magic, Hand to hand combat, knife, sword and other crude weapons training.
PARAPHERNALIA: long knife with gold handle, gold crown, various other crown-like headdresses.
Shauni came from a part of Africa where the women headed the society. Her gifts were awakened by the high priestesses of her mother’s village when she was just a child following the completion of “The Quest.” A spiritual, mental, emotional and physical journey of enlightenment, which was undertaken by every female in the village as a rite of passage into womanhood. Each child spent a year searching themselves and learning how to resonate at their soul potential. At the end of the year,all of the participants would take part in a ritual under the full moon that would evoke visions. The purpose was to tune each member onto their path in life.
Both sexes chose paths, traditionally, women held the more prominent roles in society because they were viewed as more likely to be compassionate, and patient yet ferociously protective as a leader and warrior when required. Shani found that she was far more than just a leader and warrior; she was to be the savior of her people.
As a young woman, I was chosen by my tribe to be a great spiritual avatar that would lead the next generation of my people as the High Priestess. It was part of a bloodline tradition and with it came a great gift but also a curse. The curse was not immortality, but I have struggled with an extended life-span without my tribe. I suspect this curse will subside when I fulfill my purpose.”
The next part was difficult so Shauni took a seat beside Mae on the sofa before she continued, “There was another girl, who was just a bit older than me who had also been considered a candidate for the same title. Most of us thought she was a no-brainer for the position. She was smart, charismatic, bold, strong and determined but, to be bestowed with the blessing of the High Priestess one must be able to bear a child and Meria, or Miriam as she apparently would like to be called now, unfortunately cannot. So, I was chosen.”
“Why must you be able to bear a child?”
“My family were guardians to the wisdom of Mother Earth. One of my ancestral mothers received the blessing directly from her and we have passed it down the bloodline through the women for generations. Should need be, the High Priestess needs to be able to produce life and pass down her blessing or it will be lost to this world forever.”
Shani already knew Mae’s next question so she answered it before it had the chance to form on her lips. “We are the last of her people on earth and the High Priestess is not only a vessel of her power but one of her links to this Earth. If she falls, the inhabitants of the world will slowly lose touch with their spiritual powers. So you see? Humanity has already lost touch. The High Priestess has power to save it because-”
“…because the only way to change a society is by teaching the next generation.” Mae completed her sentence almost perfectly. Her wisdom at work as usual.
“Are you the High Priestess then?”
The question was as painful as it was complicated to answer, but the answer was no. After the choosing ceremony when the blessing was transferred to Shauni, there was supposed to have been another private ceremony where Shauni would be formally introduced to Mother Nature who would bestow her charter for the next High Priestess but Meria, in a jealous rage ruined everything.
Shauni was Meria’s cousin. They were both considered ‘daughters of Nature’; a title bestowed on every female born in the line of the first families who could could be selected for the Priesthood. Meria thought she would have been the only eligible female to answer the call because the duty was not without very tough sacrifices that many others were unwilling to make. It was not uncommon for a Priestess to reign for decades, or even centuries before she could find a suitable Daughter of Nature who was fit to carry the mantle forward.
The current regent had been on the throne for nearly three centuries, without having her youthful image betray her age. Her mate had long passed so she could not conceive any more children and she had only birthed sons. The selection would be made by the ancestors via the rite to rule after each potential Daughter of Nature had undergone their coming of age Quest, and had submitted themselves to the servitude of the chapter.
The laws that governed those who were eligible to become the High Priestess were held sacred and had been passed down from the very beginning of our tribe by the founding matriarchs. Those matriarchs had been powerful shamans who had become tired of their gifts being used by men for the purposes of war and destruction. The leaders of the group were twin sisters whose separate powers surpassed the others by leaps and bounds. Combined, the two were practically an unstoppable force but therein also lay the problem. Should they be parted for too long, though they would still be very strong, their powers would fade quickly and considerably down to the baseline of their individual power.
This only posed a problem because their decision to leave the larger tribe was viewed as an act of disrespect and rebellion by the chief. He hunted them relentlessly. In desperation, the sisters and her persecuted followers called out to the Earth mother for help until finally one of the twin sisters believed she received an answer. She proposed that she would sacrifice her life to her sister so that their powers would be combined. After they performed the rite, the surviving sister not only felt her sister’s energy flowing through her but the presence of a much more powerful entity. After the ceremony, the surviving sister received the life energy from her sister and with it came extremely heightened senses and a deeper connection with the nature elements beyond what she had ever felt before. Also, as every child of the “Children of Nature” tribe came to know, through her deepened commune with the pure energy of life and creation, the Earth Mother herself chose to appear before the surviving twin to bestow upon her the doctrine that the tribe follows to the present day. Not so much as a reward, but it was to return balance to her life for their profound sacrifice.
Though the role of High Priestess was one of the most revered positions of their culture, it was not a particularly coveted position because with the mantle came much sacrifice and heart ache. To even be considered, the candidate had to be descended from one of the original group of shamans. Your chances of being selected as the next High Priestess were even higher if you were descended from one of those two original, sacrificial twin sisters.
At the time, both sisters had already had families before the first sacrifice and it was a practice the tribe tried their best to continue to protect the bloodline. However, their descendants were frequently targeted by their enemies and in response, the age of pledging was lowered over time from age 15 to age 10. Chosen candidates would receive special protection in the temple. A place one could only be invited to if that female had been born as part of an identical twin-set, and one of the twins had died. A bonding ceremony was done at birth to protect the twin connection so the life energy would not be lost should one of them meet such a premature end.
All this and, becoming a candidate to be the next High Priestess was voluntary. If we chose to vie for the position, we had to take an oath of dedication to the protection of the Earth Mother’s before the end of the Summer Solstice.
The beginning of Shauni’s twisted path to her current position in life began on the last possible day of submission during the 249th year of Morowa’s reign. The city was attacked by a group of nomadic people they called Outland Raiders. That year, everyone in the valley had experienced a very poor hunting season. Even the crop yields for the Nature tribe were very low. The Raiders attacked the city hoping to steal provisions and valuables. For almost an entire day the streets echoed with the sound of clashing weapons, battle cries and the wails of dying men and women. Normally, the Raiders survived as paid mercenaries during times of war and traveling tradesmen during times of peace. Their prowess in battle was well known and not something anyone wished to experience first-hand.
When all had been settled and scored, the city managed to defend most of its food and beat the raiders back into the jungle. The invaders never made it to the temple for their most sacred possessions but they had ravaged the homes of many civilians and small farmers on the outskirts of the city. The price of the victory had been paid in the blood of many innocent people. It was a very stained day. Not a single family had been left untouched in the massacre because they had been caught so off guard. Shauni’s mother, father, twin sister and her brother all died in the melee. She was found later, completely dazed, swaying listlessly to the rhythm of her thoughts and sitting in a pool of her family’s blood during an after-sweep of the city.
Shauni’s family lived on the very outskirts of the city so the battle came upon them like a crashing wave. Shauni survived because her parents acted quickly when the alarm was sounded and tried to hide both Shauni and her sister in a small space beneath their home where their mother would store her fruit preserves while they were curing. Unfortunately, both Shauni and her sister could not fit. A loud noise in the front of the house alerted them to the fact that the siege had just crashed through their front door, Shauni was distracted by the cries of fatal defeat of her father and brother as they were cut down. Shauni’s sister tried to squeeze in the small space with her, but in the heat of the moment, as Shauni slid down into the space, she bumped the back of her head on the closing trap door which knocked her unconscious. The door slammed shut and Shauni faded to black to sound of her sister’s footsteps scurrying away. Shauni did not wake for hours, and when she did, her entire family slaughtered.
The High Priestess, Morowa, though saddened to have lost more of her family, had long ago accepted that with great power did not come without sacrifice or the need for balance. She was so glad that her bloodline survived. Her sister’s granddaughter was still alive. She believed it to be a sign. Even before the ‘all clear’ had even been issued, Morowa led a small search party to the house so that she could bring Shauni back to the temple herself. Shani took her oath that very night and, at the same time, gained herself a mortal enemy in Meria.