Boundary: Desert Guide Tower
Nature Feature: Desert Star (Monoptilon bellioides)
Original Form: Cursed Lantern
◆ Growth points ◆
"Take comfort. You could have been dealt a bitter hand. I know it's difficult to imagine, but there are fates worse than becoming lost."
"Knowing in your bones what you were, and where you belong."
◆ Background ◆
Deep in the desert stands a Tower.
Like a lighthouse on some lost and lonely coast, its beacon shines more brilliantly than all the stars in the night sky. The structure is both familiar and ageless; an eidolon of some empty year that man chose to forget. Implacable in time, even to the memory of the desert herself.
Most don't question it. It's the only sign of human life for miles. Like moths to a flame, the Tower draws in the hopelessly lost-- wayward hikers, hungry creatures, and restless ghosts alike.
What they find inside is impossible: A table set with maize, mesquite beans, and ripe prickly pear fruit. Clear pools of water in a cast iron basin. Warm beds and thick wool blankets. A hearth at the center of it all, lit in loving welcome for the weary guest. All this, as if to say “Oh, you have come so far... Let me hold you a while."
Many a traveler has fallen to their beaten knees, there, thanking providence, thanking a loving god, all the ghosts on Earth for delivering them to this place at their most dire hour. The Tower holds them for as long as they have need of it. Every morning the coffers are stocked, the waters are running, the bath is drawn, and the hearth is burning. Every night the bed is made, and the beacon shines warmly on the face of its guest. For those who lose themselves to the open sky, this place is very close to paradise.
And yet the nature of a guest is to someday leave. Even an oasis like this cannot hold a traveler from their destination forever.
But when they turn to go, they find the Tower door won't budge. The light of the beacon dies. The hearth goes out like a candle flickering in the wild night. All this, as if to say “Leaving so soon...?”
The Tower is a fundamentally loving and charismatic ghost-- with a dark, capricious streak.
He haunts his own body, a watchtower deep in the Sonoran desert. Once serving as a bustling waypoint for locals and travelers alike, the old watchtower eventually fell into disuse. Today, it's lost to modern memory.
But the tower never forgot. It became haunted by its own history, yearning for the life it housed since time beyond time. The beacon still shone on lonely nights, crying out for the people who abandoned it. A siren song for the lost that only led them further astray.
This desperation and grief eventually drew in a rather different guest, a ghost from the desert who recognized its suffering, and soothed it with soft, familiar incense from the long road South. After many lonely years, the tower was finally taken with new life. The beacon shone on the face of its guest, and found itself transformed by her kindness.
The two became odd friends-- the Tower, now liberated from his lonely bones, and this healer-ghost with no name. The Tower was eager to learn from his strange, new charge, and the ghost obliged him in her own, quiet way. The Tower considers the short days they spent together some of the best of his life.
But all wanderers share the same lot. One day the ghost would wander on. In her mind, this was a foregone conclusion. In the Tower's, it was an act of violence.
All at once, the ghost's eyes lit up with recognition. She saw a sickness in him that she had thought to be eradicated. It became painfully clear to her: She hadn't healed him at all. On the contrary, her presence had only driven him deeper into disease.
She had to leave.
As the ghost moved to go, the Tower's jaws snapped shut on her. But she was clever, and she slipped between his teeth. She fled, chasing the morning light until the rising sun snuffed out the burning Tower-- A dying star, crashing on the distant horizon.
She never returned. Even now, the Tower's light wails and wails for a ghost to come home and haunt his empty walls once more.
◆ Enchantment ◆
The Tower’s enormous mane isn’t just for looks (though he does spend an exorbitant amount of time paying attention to personal grooming.)
In fact, his hair is like an extra set of hands, which he uses to manipulate objects and to gesture conversationally. It’s not uncommon to find him with heaps of clutter wrapped up in his hair, as he dashes this way and that to do his daily chores.
The Tower likes to feel useful, so he readily shares his keen mastery of telekinesis with other ghosts. He'll help with almost any task that requires a delicate hand, when asked. Still, there are things that even he can’t seem to get a hold of. His enchantment should not be used to do things that are too anthropomorphic, such as competently playing music or writing legible notes.
◆ Notes ◆
- The Tower's fractures are based on kintsugi, the art of repairing broken pottery by joining the fragments with metallic lacquer.
- In reality, the cracks are fissures that reveal the Tower's insides, which are made of pure light. This light-blood generally does not "glow," per se, but is instead impossibly bright for the color context around the Tower. The same goes for the bioluminescent discs of his flowers.
- He uses the heart-shaped chasm in his chest as a beacon to draw in the lost. But most of the time, it is concealed underneath his wiry mane, and he rarely shows it to other beings during face-to-face interactions.
- The Tower is full of color and light in his more gregarious dealings with others. However, during moments of anguish and pain, he will-- quite literally-- go "out like a light." He may become increasingly fractured in this state, his asters overtaking him and growing through the new cracks.
- The Tower does not call himself "The Tower." This is an epithet given to him by one of his past guests. It's likely he has accumulated countless monikers, in his time, as new visitors come up with new names for him.
- Despite the Tower's inability to cope with the idea of others leaving him, he does not perform transformations to trap esk in his tower. He is frustrated by the liminality of his relationships, but seeks authentic companionship.
◆ Use ◆
The Tower can be freely used as a character in your own stories. He is gregarious, charming, and legitimately kind-hearted to those he sees as his "guests", but reacts in dysfunctional and often terrifying ways when they inevitably leave. He is likely to be a social chameleon-- whatever your character seems to need most (Or whatever the Tower thinks they need most.)
The Tower cannot be used as a creator esk at this time.
I'm your only friend
I'm not your only friend
But I'm a little glowing friend
But really I'm not actually your friend
But I am