Pears and Perils
the island of Denilale and pluck one of the white flowers from the peak of the high mountain, crescent blossoms I think they are called, as a gift for her,” Felbren suggested. “They are said to be a beauty that makes even the stars twist in envy.”
    “Denilale is Her island,” Kodiwandae pointed out. He didn’t have to specify who; the tone said it all. There were gods in the world - a particular abundance in some areas more than others - and then there were the Gods, the ones who were attached to forces so primal and intrinsic that they lived in a category all their own.
    “She has temples on plenty of islands; I doubt Denilale means much to her in the grand scheme of things.”
    “She only lets those flowers grow in that one spot. They don’t take root anywhere else in the world. What if she gets mad at me for plucking one?”
    “Would you be mad at a human for eating one of your new pears? No; you made them for that purpose! Whoever heard of making a flower that wasn’t meant to be picked?”
    Kodiwandae thought it over and decided his friend had a point. Besides, the alcohol had made him bold, and he truly did want to see the look on Alahai’s face when he brought her a crescent blossom. So Kodiwandae grabbed hold of a strong wind and rode his way over to the mountain of Denilale. He’d sobered up a bit by the time he landed, but by this point he’d traveled so far it would almost feel more ridiculous not to follow through.
    Kodiwandae searched the mountain for some time, finally coming across a single crescent blossom on a cliff that looked out on all the lands below. It truly was a gorgeous flower: white as the clouds with veins of blue swirling through the petals. The smell was like the first day of Spring and the center seeds seemed to almost sparkle in the sun, their golden shells catching the light and reflecting it with breathtaking luster. Kodiwandae picked up the flower with great care, severing the root like a parent cutting an umbilical cord.
    He turned around to take the winds over to Alahai’s island, but as soon as he did, he found Her waiting for him. She had many names across many lands, but names didn’t really mean much to gods: they were fueled and formed by the shape of the beliefs rather than the terms associated with them. She was known as the respect for the land, the hope for sustenance from the soil, and the faith in balance that the mortals held with the vegetation that surrounded them. She was Nature, all other names meant nothing in the face of that truth.
    Inherently taciturn already (winter didn’t just happen by itself, after all), Nature wore a look that spelled out quite clearly her unhappiness with what lay before her.
    “It is forbidden to pluck my crescent blossoms.”
    “Forbidden? I thought it was just frowned upon, sort of like an unspoken rule of politeness,” Kodiwandae babbled quickly, trying to think of a way to appease her.
    “Forbidden. Since I first formed them, none but I are allowed to tear them from the earth.”
    “Oh, well, it seems that’s my mistake, then. How about I put it back, you just reconnect the root, and we both forget this whole thing ever happened?”
    “The sin is commited. Punishment must be given. This is my way.”
    “Punishment?”
    “I will cast you into the soul of a slug, cursing it to live for a millennium so you may have adequate time to contemplate your mistake.”
    “Wait, a slug? I see your side of things, but isn’t that a bit harsh? I didn’t even know it was forbidden; I just listened to my idiot friend Felbren who said it would impress a girl I like.”
    “Felbren.” Nature’s face became frosty and cast in shadow, her version of a frown. “I dislike that god. But he is not the one who has broken my edict.”
    “Yes, but I didn’t even know! Surely there must be another way.”
    Nature stood silently as the winds danced around the two deities. Kodiwandae fleetingly imagined plucking hold of one and riding

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