The world is a beautiful place and I am no longer afraid to die.First plucked from the dreaming fields in the Beyond, the Mind-Shadowed Lotus is a flower that offers a gateway into the human mind. No mere illusion, those who walk the path of the Lotus are transported, flesh and blood, into a world of thoughts and memories. There, mortals journey through corridors of their own pain and emerge healed - or not at all.
Every time the wheel turns round, it's bound to cover just a little more ground.A Lotus in bloom is a large, short flower with long tapered petals - black as the night sky and glittering with stars, centered around the swirling vortex at the heart of the flower. Those who gaze into the galaxy within are struck with a sense of peace and nostalgia, and its scent brings out buried memories. Many report the smell of their mother's perfume, a childhood toy, or other relics of their past. Even when in the same room, no two people will know the same scent. When burned, the petals shine within the flames, and the smoke is a sweet-smelling shimmering haze.
Path of the Lotus
The road will be mastered by those who walk it.Using the Mind-Shadowed Lotus is known as walking the Path of the Lotus, an intimate journey of healing and danger. No two paths trace the same steps,
The First Step
She who marches out of line hears another drum.Using the Mind-Shadowed Lotus requires only a quiet, dark room and fire. The user sets the Lotus on fire and watches as it burns. When the last embers fade and darkness descends, the world turns inside out and is remade by the user's mind. They disappear from the world, beyond any efforts of scrying or tracking. For all intents and purposes, they vanish from the face of the earth. To the user, it happens in the span of a heartbeat. The world they find themselves in is both familiar and unknown, forged from thoughts and memories of not only the user but the collective consciousness of mankind. Almost everyone find themselves at the foot of some place familiar before the terrain twists towards more distant recollections - the path hiked as child ending at the empty university campus. Further than that, these echoes fade and the world becomes a puzzle of places from across the span of time.
Glimpsed between the familiar are structures... Alien. Neither living being nor inert material, these structures resemble nothing found on earth.This new reality is as firm as the one they left behind, with all the dangers of mortality still present. Here, they meet the god of the Mind.
The Second StepThe God of the Mind is a faceless, multi-armed entity who appears to rule the world within the mind. Those who have met it can only guess the extent of its power - the godling has never raised a hand in anger or displayed its might. Instead, the god is a guide through the Path of the Lotus, leading the wanderer through their own memories and pain with every step through the world within. Glimpses of familiar faces flash across the godlings blank mask, and it is armed with a formidable way of working through old trauma or fresh scars alike.
But not everyone emerge again. Some are never heard from again - with the Inward Path claiming they've found the way forward, while others fearing less sanguine fates.The godling is even reported to be able to heal injuries of the mind inflicted by magic, possession, or other, less mundane maladies. One walker claims to have had demons cast out of their mind with a gesture, before "the real work can begin". Whatever it was they first came to the Lotus for, it is rarely the only thing they find.
The Third StepIt is only when the Godling decides that the user will leave the world created within their mind. When their journey is at an end, the god of the Mind sends them back to reality - the end of the path. Where they end up appears to be entirely at the whim of the Godling, who claims to send them to 'where they need to be'; usually places of great significance, catharsis, or danger. It is the final step for the walker to take along, with some finding themselves facing demons of their past with new tools, to at least one witch who was deposited directly into an active gunfight. Few are thankful of the way their journey ends, but it is rare to find a Walker who has not emerged better than when they went in.
Every idea is a seed, waiting to sprout.Though it was once only gathered through a perilous journey into the Beyond, the art of cultivating the Mind-Shadowed Lotus has been mastered by a rare few. First pioneered by Tsu the Tea-Witch and perfected within her perfumed parlour, Mind-Shadowed Lotus are now grown in select locales around the world and sold for exorbitant prices - usually favors or magic equally rare.
There are no more than perhaps a dozen known magi around the world who maintain Lotus gardens, and a handful more kept in secret. New seeds are found only in the ashes of a burnt Lotus, meaning supply is relatively fixed without braving the Beyond for new flowers. The most extensive operation is maintained by acolytes of the Inward Path, whose sprawling Garden of Dreams combine aspects of temple, greenhouse, and opium drug den.
In the Shadows
Healing is never easy. If it was, we'd all be whole by now.Opinions differ greatly in the Shadow on the truth behind the Lotus. Magi can't reach consensus at the best of times, and with more mysteries than answers, everyone has their own theory about the Lotus or its resident godling. Many of the same vagueries that play out in the mortal world regarding mental health do so again within the magical community, but with stakes where people fling fireballs at each other.
More practical Magi see the Lotus as a tool like any other. Mortal acolytes who show promise can have awareness thrust on them with a journey through their own mind guided by a devil - creating another pawn for an inhuman puppet-master, according to others still. Most leave it well alone; the rarity and price of the Lotus do more to keep them in the shadows than anything.
The problem is not to find the answer, but to face the answer.Use of the Lotus stretch back as far as there has been magic. Before the secrets of its cultivations were unlocked, witches and warlocks had to brave the Beyond to find them, often within the courts of fae or the garden of demons. Such dangers made the flower associated with mortal peril and dark pacts, something shunned by righteous folk for the price of acquiring them. Even so, its promise of healing or transcendence always lured some to brave whatever path required to find one.
Only a century ago, Tsu the Tea-Witch emerged from deep within the Beyond to create the first Lotus garden. Though she has never shared how she came across such knowledge, theories are abound, with some whispering that it was hers at the end of her own path of the Lotus. Whatever the truth, Tsu has since shared it with a few trusted associates, and from there it slowly spread among denizens of the Shadow.
Keys to the MindSome believe that the Lotus are nothing more than very specialized Keys, opening a Gate to some obscure and shifting part of the Beyond. Certainly, the Beyond is infinite enough to contain everything man could ever dream of. Though Keys are usually much more narrow in their use, proponents of this theory think it more likely than an entirely new plane of existence.
Even more radical theories state that this link between the mind and the Beyond allows magic to flourish within the human soul... But that's just speculation.
God Or DevilTo those who have walked the Path of the Lotus, there is no greater mystery than the identity of its ruler. The God of the Mind is powerful and ancient, that much is certain, but who - or even what - it is has eluded warlocks. Though it appears benign, some believe the creature to be a Demon, though no attempt to summon or bind the godling is known to have succeeded.
Lotus seeds resemble small crystals that blow and fracture as the flower grows. The remnants of the crystal anchor the flower in place, replacing the need for roots.
Group TripIt is possible to visit the same world made by the Lotus through powerful magic. The God of the Mind accepts groups as readily as it does individuals, though the dynamics change. In such cases, one person acts as the primary mind, the anchor for the others to cling to. A single Lotus is enough to transport a small group.
Not recommended for marriage counseling.