Marks of Chance

It's not safe to go alone. Wear this!
— cheery grandmother
  In a world like Istralar, even the safest areas can have lingering dangers, and not everyone has the power or money to afford protections. Instead, some are forced to rely on what luck they can find - or borrow for themselves. Marks of chance are small but surprisingly intricate tattoos or skin-paintings done with chanceberry dye, whether it be the true rainbow-iridescence of the expensive dye or the simple varying brightness of chanceberries broken down into dyes.   The legend behind their power is simple, and one that has many points of origin: if the chanceberries themselves are so touched by fate that they roll the dice at every opportunity, then wearing them could perhaps offer some of that wild fate-twisting chance to the wearer.   In some cultures, particularly those in Serendel Forest where the tradition first originated, the dye must be applied by a caring friend or family member to aspect the luck towards positive. Having an enemy apply it would poison the concoction with malevolent energy, according to local lore, and a neutral disposition would result in wild alterations of fate in no particular direction.  


Though every country, town, and village has their own rituals surrounding the marks of chance, it is entirely typical for there to be some measure of ceremony for when someone requires the marks of chance.   They are not offered to every townsperson, but those going on particularly dangerous journeys or leaving permanently for new, risky sights are usually those who have earned the respect and goodwill enough for their community to rally behind them.   Collecting the berries for the marks of chance is not a single-person task, and it is rumoured that the more people are involved in collecting the berries, the greater the luck will be.
Runestone bearing a Mark of Chance by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
  The ceremony usually takes place as close to nature as possible - often in the local woods. Metals are forbidden; all swords must be put aside, and no armour is welcome. The paints are made up from cauldrons and effort over the course of days, and in the ceremony itself, they are applied via wooden palettes and horsehair brushes (if indeed they are only paints). Those who prefer to have the ink tattooed undergo a more painful tattooing process instead.   Once applied, every individual who cares to offer their blessing lays their hand atop the new Mark of Chance and whispers their wish for its bearer - usually wishes of safety and protection, but occasionally something more. When all is done, a feast is thrown - a celebration of the individual they have marked, and in many cases, a farewell.
Chanceberry Paints by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
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Important Locations

Links to Champions

Some suggest that the very act of marking another with inks like this is in fact derived from the fey Eldest claiming a Champion, and that they are only mimicking the gods' claims. This doesn't seem to harm the superstition.


Faerie Pools of the Forest Grove by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
The tradition began so far in the past that its beginning can no longer truly be traced. It certainly began in the woods of Serendel Forest, when the elves of current-day Ilendras ruled and the fey visited often. Chanceberries were a rare oddity even then, their appearance seen as a kind twist of fate - or perhaps an unklnd one, when the presence of the berries drew other predators to the same location.   Supposedly, it was the fey - those capricious beings of fate - who first wove magic into bottles of mundane chanceberry inks and dyes to harness that innate speck of luck within each bottle. A fey Eldest, one of their most powerful and a demigoddess in her own right, had crafted a desmene for herself in the heart of the thick woods that, at that early time, covered far more than modern-day Serendel. It was beautiful; an idyllic grove of divinatory pools, each one showing a different thread of the world's very weave.   As a deity of prophecy and fate, she drew to her forest court a number of mortals seeking to abuse her divinatory powers for their own gain and pilgrims who simply sought to know the unknowable both. From each, she exacted a toll - and it was never the same toll twice.   Even should her toll have been paid, there was no certainty that she would allow a glimpse of the future, nor that she would let them keep their memories of the encounter if she did allow it.   According to legend, a young halfling druid made his way to the court and its splendrous pools of infinite reality. He was quiet and unassuming, but above all, he was kind. The faerie goddess set out a number of impossible tasks for him, and despite his youth and inexperience, he found ways to overcome each one - either alone, or by drawing on the aid of others.   Finally, she granted him the opportunity to make his request, his toll having been paid in blood, sweat, and particularly glittery tears.

Chanceberry Paints by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

  And yet he did not request to see the future. Not his own, nor any other's.  
Instead, he beseeched her for a way to change his steps ever so slightly, to walk in luck and find the world less harsh.
Curious, she granted his request. She took the floating chanceberries from nearby and wove them with her domain over luck, sending them back out into the world with luck forever within their makeup.   From the berries she'd taken, she crafted a beautiful dye, and wove it in a thousand colours around his arm - to claim him for the rest of his days as her Champion, and granting him the permission to share the secrets of the berries with all he could.   The druid went on to achieve great things, but those are not so important here. What must be remembered is that he took his deity's words to heart, and spread the knowledge of chanceberries far and wide, scattering her powers of luck and fate as he did so.   The tradition blossomed in household after household, and changed countless times over the years. In some centuries, it was drinking the berries that was seen as important - in others, the paint needed to be woven permanently into the skin as a tattoo.
Whatever the case, the people were certain of one thing: the chanceberries were lucky, and would help them through the worst of times.

Chanceberry Paints by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

Cover image: Marks of Chance cover by Hanhula (via Midjourney)


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26 Jul, 2022 14:51

Oh I love this. what a lovely tradition and item! The creation myth especially, at the bottom, is beautiful and very heartwarming. What an incredibly article, as always <3

20 Aug, 2022 09:09

Thank you, Anna! ♥♥

Autumn Riverwood
26 Aug, 2022 22:48

I.. I love this. So much. The tradition is incredibly interesting with an amazing origin myth, and the Midjourney artworks you made are so pretty! You did great! (Also, are chanceberries edible? I want to eat one lol)

27 Aug, 2022 03:06

They totally are! There's a little more about them on their page, but yes - definitely edible.. just expect a random taste ;)   Thank you so much for the compliments!