Boundary: Rocky desert
Nature Feature: Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens)
▼ Growth points ▼
This one won’t appreciate your efforts any more than mine, I’m afraid. Wander long enough the washes and dry riverbeds of our deserts, and you may have already crossed her without knowing it. Dia never leaves this place, but she is a ghost among ghosts, and you should know that some of us have searched for years and never once found her.
But if you do go looking, then... Could you tell her? Tell her that we miss her.
Diaspore was a lawyer living out of occupied Yavapai and Akimel O'odham land (what was then called the Territory of Arizona) around the turn of the 20th century.
▼ Background ▼
You would be forgiven if you think that nothing haunts the dry riverbeds of the Arizona uplands. Not much is known of Dia; she's a constant presence in her haunt, but she holds ghosts and humans alike at arm’s length. If she makes herself known to you, it’s probably for a good reason—but such encounters are brief and take place strictly under her terms.
Her early years are even more cryptic, an inkblot on the land that tells stories of a much more difficult ghost. Wrathful in one tale and raw-hearted in the next, something colors Dia’s past that she has taken great pains to hide. And she is very good at this: Most agree that she’s probably bad news, but to what end, few can say for sure.
But there are those who know Dia by a different name, one which follows her from beyond the grave. It won’t be easy to find them, but their stories are gifts to be given to you just as freely as Dia once gave to them...
▼ Enchantment ▼
Memory of Old
... And there is a part of Dia, somewhere, that still gives freely and open-heartedly.
Those who come to know the ghost inevitably realize that she has a complicated relationship with her past. But the memory of Dia's previous life is not one that is soon forgotten; She might run from it, but unfortunately for her, it has ways of finding her.
These memories manifest as the woman that Dia once was. Wherever the esk can be found, the memory is never far.
This ghost-woman-memory is a far cry from the lonely shadow that is Dia. She is full of bombast and color, tricks and theatrics, charisma and compassion, mystery and intrigue... She represents everything that Dia wants to be, everything that she's not, and everything that she's afraid of all at once. Where Dia hides, the memory stands her ground. Where she snaps and drives others out, the memory extends a patient hand. Where she hurts and hurts others, the memory works to stitch the wound together.
So the esk avoids her, of course. She is mortified by the bravery and compassion of her better self.
In truth, Dia's memory is imperfect. She is coming to know herself through those who once knew her, and with each reunion, Dia gains a new understanding of herself. Her memory, too, shifts and changes in the company of ghosts from her past life. This is usually benign, with the memory taking on the role of best friend, counsel, mentor, student, or rival. But there are those whose company brings out the worst in both Dia and her past self. These are memories that she is not prepared to confront alone.
Dia has passed on her enchantment several times. At times this was intentional; She recognized a shared grief in another ghost and acted out of empathy. Passing on this ability, in hopes of helping others cope, is a soothing act for her.
More commonly, Dia has passed on her enchantment by accident. This was often the case with ghosts who knew Dia in her past life. They meet, and in the joy of their reunion, their memories spring forth to greet each other as though not a day had passed since their parting.
When traveling over bodies of water, Dia's reflection betrays her. Memories of herself are shadowed always by the esk, and vice versa.
▼ Boundary ▼
Dia’s boundary is a fictionalized area based on Perry Mesa, Black Mesa, and the Agua Fria river in central Arizona.
This is high desert. Rugged basalt mesas stretch from horizon to horizon, their canyons cut down by lush rivers. Meanwhile the Sonoran Desert meanders on through the valleys and mesa tops, turning from saguaro forests to arid grasslands to pinyon-juniper woodlands. Something different is always unfolding as you travel up and down in altitude and longitude.
Dia’s haunt also includes the desert further south, the Salt River Valley and the confluence of the Salt, Gila, and Agua Fria rivers. However, much of it has been paved over by the sprawling Phoenix metro. The city vexes her, and although she can rarely find the strength to navigate it, she has reason to try.
▼ Nature Feature ▼
Two stems of ocotillo sprout from Dia’s shoulderblades. Ocotillos are drought-deciduous plants, which means that they mark their seasons by rainfall rather than temperature. They spend most of their time dormant and leafless, conserving energy and minimizing water loss through the dry months.
When the rains pass through, they come alive seemingly overnight. It’s a mad dash to put out leaves and soak in the abundance, because within the week they’ll be dropping them again, retreating back into dormancy to await the next rain event. Incidentally, a leafy ocotillo is an easy tell that it’s rained recently.
Ocotillos can be found flowering opportunistically almost any time of the year. For the most part, though, they flower in spring, anticipating the hummingbird migration and the presence of other pollinators. Flowering and re-leafing can (and often do) happen asynchronously, with an ocotillo leafing out but not flowering, or flowering with no leaves.
Dia’s plant is almost always dormant. But on rare occasions, the rains will blow through and catch her in a good mood, or something from her past will well up in her chest... and her ocotillo will become a riot of flowers, or leaves, or both.
Ocotillo among saguaros at Perry Mesa © BLM
Ocotillo bloom © Hilton Lieberum
Dormant ocotillo © Dylan's World
▼ Notes ▼
- Diaspore was not her name in life; It's a moniker of sorts used by those esk who had the misfortune of encountering her after her transformation. Dia rarely feels the need to use a name for herself, but when she does, "Dia" works just fine.
- Dia is asocial, avoiding contact with other esk. She does not leave her boundary, and does not visit the Conservatory.
- Dia doesn't perform transformations. On the rare occasion she encounters a soul in need, she will do what she can to find another way out for them.
- Dia doesn't act like a ghost if she can help it. She avoids incorporeality, telekinesis, teleportation, and levitation; they are foreign to her and make her feel disconnected from the world. Because of this, Dia travels by foot to each of her haunts.
- Dia's Memory of Old can pick up and manipulate objects for her, though. Unfortunately, the esk loathes asking her for help.
- While Dia's “speaking” voice is articulate, her internal dialogue is stuttering and sometimes fractured. When she is alone, this repetition comes to the surface, and she may repeat her thoughts back to herself.
- Diaspore is very tolerant of the flora and fauna within her boundary, who sometimes seek her out for help. She is visibly unused to having this responsibility, but rarely refuses them.
- Dia's Memory of Old enchantment has no visual manifestation in her design (i.e. as a glyph or aura) and therefore cannot give the Enchantment bonus. Most depictions of this power skirt the lines of canon as well; I generally do not score them.
▼ Stories ▼
▼ Trinkets ▼
A Massive Ego
Awarded August 2019 ❤
▼ Transformations ▼
A passing ghost #1542
Note: This character is no longer in play. I ask that you don't depict her.
▼ Use ▼
Feel free to reach out if you would like to depict Dia in your works. She can be featured in one-off pieces of art and short fiction as a distant, haunting spectre or mysterious presence, consistent with the character outlined in this tracker. If you would like to incorporate her more intensively into your own stories, please know that her story is a nebulous WIP and she is a personal character, so this may not always be possible.
Please be respectful of Dia's history as a trans Japanese American woman. I am generally disinterested in stories about -isms and -phobias, and believe these stories are best told by those who have lived the immediate realities that Dia has. Please let me know if you find that any part of her writing is inconsistant with this philosophy!
Dia cannot be used as a creator esk at this time.
Murder and colonies, land without rivers
Raging in the middle of some sad destiny
(I can't stop, I can't stop,
It's probably impossible, but I can't stop)