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Maidens of the Meadows

These mysterious women highly gifted in the magical arts are known by many names. To name a few: Dara Vell, Diuri, Farawis, Ladies/Women of the Night, Forests Protectress, and most commonly Maidens of the Meadows, after the famous story of the same name. They are both equally common and uncommon all around the world, and everybody has heard about them, even though you might not recognize the story as such. Depending on the region, these ladies were greatly feared or deeply admired.

Origin

These ladies are the topic of legends and fairytales, but their existence is all but a myth. They rarely venture among the common folk, now even more so than in the past, and their seclusion is the cause of the creation of many mythical tales. In past times, when less people roamed outside villages and towns, and the wild was feared even more, Maidens of the Meadows commonly visited settlements, sharing knowledge and good-fortune.
Where they came from and where they went, people did not know. It seemed like they simply appeared one day and were gone the next. They did not seem to have a home, or rather, nobody ever managed to find it. In fact, nobody will ever find it, for the settlements of these ladies are concealed with a spell and no commoner is able to enter their small villages. Additionally, villages usually reside deep within nature, in locations hard to reach for a commoner to begin with: deep within a swamp, in the treetops or behind a waterfall.
Similarly, nobody knows the exact number of Maidens out there. A town was rarely visited twice by the same lady, if visited twice at all. To Maidens themselves the exact number is also unclear. They travel most of their life, moving from town to town, taking shelter in their concealed villages. During old age, some decide to permanently settle down and train the young ones in the ways of a Maiden, but for the majority of a Maiden’s life, she travels the world.

The way one becomes a Maiden of the Meadow is simple: One is chosen. A spirit-guide will choose a girl of its liking and form a bond with her. The first encounter between spirit-guide and girl is peculiar, to say the least, as most Maidens are in fact lost girls. Whether they were found by their spirit-guide and brought to safety, or lured away from home, nobody knows with certainty, not even Maidens themselves.

Appearance

At first glance these ladies can be easily confused with a peculiarly dressed foreign magi, accompanied by her animal companion. A second glance confirms that this lady is not a simple magi. From region to region, Maidens dress differently from one another, but also from common folk. Nature is often interwoven with their clothing and accessories. More intriguing, a lady often bears markings of a certain kind on her facial features. The type of marking again differs from one region to the next, and symbolizes where the Maiden was at the age of maturation. Often the markings are made by scarification or tattooing.
Important to note is that the animal companion of a Maiden is in fact not a companion according to the general definition of the word. One might even argue that the Maiden is the companion in this relationship. The companion of a lady is in fact a spirit-guide in the guise of an animal. The most common animal forms a spirit guide will take is that of a fox, badger or ermine, but forms as coyote, wolverine and otter have also occurred. The form a spirit-guide takes greatly depends on the geographical location in which it emerges, but once it has taken on a form it is unable to change into another.

Abilities

People believed these ladies to possess immense magical abilities, even more so than the common magi. In Namda, they were believed to be ladies of great wisdom and common folk often asked them for guidance if such a lady would bestow their town with a visit. They asked help with trivial things, such as what this year’s crop yield would be like, and if she could bless them with a good harvest. They also asked aid in treatment with ailments. Even members of the royal family asked for aid from a Maiden of the Meadow. One particular story tells that empress Lindia and emperor Savor were unable to produce an heir. Nine months after the visit of a Maiden, the empress gave birth to a healthy baby boy. In contrast to this reverence, Farawis, as they are known in the native tongue, were feared for their demonic powers in Fergel and even hunted down.
The true power of a Maiden, she obtains from her spirit-guide. It shows her how to maintain balance in every sense of the word. In a sense, the Maiden does the bidding of the spirit-guide. It can show her the future, give her the ability to aid growth or spread destruction, and it can give life and destroy it.

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