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The Snake and The Tree

Once, back when the Titans still walked the lands, there were two sisters who caused grief to to all others. Their antics wrought havoc across the earth and seas, often leaving such chaos in their wake that they were once thought to be brought up from the Dark Abyss, spirits of destruction given form. The truth is much closer than what scholars thought. Their names were Ipa and Ula, and they were the first shapeshifters.

In the sisters, all forms were possible. They were not limited to humanoid or animal shapes either. The true terror they wrought was because they could take near any form. Lakes and rivers, trees and stone, from great mountains to wispy clouds, their forms were mutable, and seemingly endless.

The two mischief makers did have some spark of chaos within them, but the simple truth was that they cared little for anything beyond one another and the game they played. Because of their natures, constantly shifting and taking on new appearances, they took great pleasure in a game that we would find exceedingly similar to hide-and-seek.

The game took place across all creation, and there were no limits to the forms, nor places they could hide. Once, Ula hid as a stream that ran across a placid stretch of grassland. Ipa, when she finally discovered her sister, took the form of a gargantuan ox, and drove her horns through the plain in a fit, causing great rifts in the earth which would eventually smooth over time into great cavernous valleys. Another time, Ipa drifted across the sky as a cloud. When Ula discovered her, she tore up to her from the ground in the form of a mountain, leaving great peaks and craggy cliffs where once there was none.

The other titans were not amused.

Their games finally came to an end in the center of a great forest. Ula had been hiding in the forest disguised as a single tree among thousands. Ipa glided through the underbrush as a snake, nipping and biting at roots, searching for her sister. A great titan of nature and earth watched over their game with hard eyes. Soon enough, Ipa found her sister and began coiling around her with glee, growing in size as she went. Laughing, Ula followed suit, her trunk expanding and cracking the earth around her as her tree-form grew to massive proportions, tearing up the forest around her. In the blink of an eye, the two towered above the treetops, a monstrous serpent struggling to tighten around a massive tree.

The great titan of nature and earth had seen enough. Her children of the forest cried out, wailing as they were upturned and scattered. The titan hefted a great axe, took aim at the two cackling sisters, and in one swift motion, chopped clean through them both. Half of each sister toppled to the ground, shocked and dying. The great titan of nature and earth picked them both up and hurled them far from land, casting them to the oceans beyond.

There still stands a great half tree in the center of a forest, a thick, almost scaly vine wrapped tightly around it from broken top to base. A mark of judgement from the titans of old that theirs was a harsh and decisive punishment, when finally delivered. There are some that say the sisters somehow survived, and that the clash of tides, the storms and sudden whirlpools are what’s left of them, each tugging and crashing endlessly against one another, headless of those who seek to cross the waves, or the creatures that live beneath the waters.

None who have asked the storms and tides have ever received an answer.

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