Imra, Daughter of the Lukra'Dotreka'Suma
It had taken them an entire day to find a suitable tribute. Hours upon hours of searching the forest- far longer than Imra had ever anticipated, but finally the hunt was finished. A beast of the wilds, untamed and ferocious as any warrior could hope to face, slain by her own hand and the ritual knife of black-glass.
Imra felt the rush: the quickening of her chest and lungs, her skin. She felt the gifts of the world swirling at the edge of her vision, and the power they possessed. For the briefest instant, she almost fooled herself into thinking she could cling to them. That her hands could sink in and take the lurking strength for her own.
But then it faded: replaced by the warmth of the sacrifice's blood. Trails of ruby and life, as its heart was offered to the sky.
Just as the Elders had instructed, just as she had trained, almost all her life: this was the moment of her purpose.
To the wind she had shouted her intentions with confidence, and not a trace of fear- but now terror gripped Imra so tightly than even the strength of divine talons might not rival it.
Not only had she offended the God: Her unworthy hands had touched its noble flesh without permission. She had committed the greatest of taboos.
"DO AS I COMMAND!"
As the glowing spirit lifted up, wisp of tiny flame rising from the strange blue scales of the small serpent in her hands, Imra felt the panic well like the rapids of the Northern River within her chest.
The voice boomed again, small orb of white flame circling towards her face with sudden command.
"BOW BEFORE YOUR GOD!"
The words rippling through the air took weight in both wind and noise, sending distant birds to flight in the canopy far above.
Stunned to silence, Imra's hands released the scaled beast, expression of total horror slipping atop shock as the Basilisk which stared back at her less out a slow Hiss. How had she not seen the divine nature of this creature? Such pale blue scales could be nothing more than a sign from the heavens, and those eyes: they undoubtedly possessed intelligence beyond the mortal capacity of such a small frame.
"Forest God!" Imra bowed low, hands planting flat upon the forest floor as she prostrated herself before the great voice. "I beg for your forgiveness! I did not know! I did not realize!"
"DID NOT KNOW?" The Orb of wisping flame spun about the blue scaled diety, sparks of mana and fire lofting out into the air. "YOU DID NOT RECOGNIZE YOUR MASTER? THE GOD OF THIS VERY FOREST?"
"I beg for your mercy!" Imra shouted, joined in by the many others of her hunting party behind her- the other elves among the hunting party bowing low, dropping their weapons to set their heads to the ground. "When I last saw you as a young girl, you were in the form of a Great Owl! I did not realize you had come to find yourself another body!"
Imra looked up from her bow and watched as the Forest God bobbed its head slowly, eyes seeking along in a slow assessment.
Again, its tongue tasted the air, almost thoughtful as the glowing spirit of flame settled beside it once more, bobbing in rhythm beside it. Even to Imra's eyes, unfamiliar with the scene, it almost seemed to be consulting something- considering.
Finally, the bobbing stopped, and the divine spirit spoke once more with a pulsing flar of light.
"Be thankful, young Elf. Your God has accepted such a pitiful excuse." Wisping upward, flame rose above all those present, circling in a slow orbit. "Against my counsel, the God has decided to spare your lives."
"Thank you, oh Forest God! Thank you for your divine mercy!" Imra bowed once more. "Please, let us continue with the ritual!"
"Continue... the Ritual?"
"Yes! Please, oh Great and noble Forest God! I will bear responsibly for my wrongs, but please let us take you to the village, let us offer you the tribute we have prepared in honor of your expected arrival!"
"Hiss..." The god once again seemed to consult with the divine spirit, "Hisssssss." Imra watched, fearful. If it was known that she both dishonored their god, and offended it so greatly that it did not complete the ancient ritual of tradition, she would certainly be exiled.
"Count this as yet another undeserved blessing, young Elf! The God agrees." The flame soared high once again, looming over the many bowing figures with a scattering of sparks and cinder."Your God demands escort to this Village of yours, and hopes that your tribute is not lacking!"
"Thank you, oh forest god!" Imra shouted, as the cheers of her fellow hunters were raised to the wind. It seemed not all was lost just yet.