Ikapati and Demeter
|Series||Stories of the Puppeteer|
|Places||Garden of Demeter|
When humans had just been born and flocks of dragons roamed the skies, the concept of agriculture was unknown to any creature. They prayed to Ikapati, goddess of fertility, to bless the trees with fruit and their wombs with children to continue their legacies.
Ikapati did as the mortals asked, but he waited patiently for whoever would solve his cunning puzzle. You see, the crops and flowers that grew out in the wild had seeds to harvest, and he was waiting for the mortal who would learn to plant them.
Meanwhile, Demeter was a young firbolg growing up in a forest glade. She played with the birds and rolled in the grass like all the children in the tiny village. However, Demeter noticed something her peers did not.
She saw a bird eating a mango. Returning to that spot a few days later, she found the fruit had become rotten, leaving only the stone seed behind. She tossed it in her hands, calculating if it would be effective for a game of catch. Deciding it was unfit for play, she buried it in the dirt.
A year passed, and Demeter happened upon the buried seed. It had grown a tiny sapling, and as she knelt beside it, she remembered the mango saplings nearby that had grown into fruit-bearing trees. Did those appear where the stones were buried, too?
She conducted a test. She took a mango seed and buried it in front of her house. Then she took seeds of wheat, corn, and flowers, planting those next to the mango.
It didn’t take very long for the plants to grow. Demeter rejoiced at the discovery, and her village looked on in wonder.
“You’ve found what no mortal has found before,” said a voice from behind the stalks of wheat. Out stepped Ikapati, and the mortals dropped to a kneel. All except Demeter, too shocked to move. Ikapati smiled and placed a hand on her cheek. “I’ve been waiting many years for someone to find what I’ve hid in my gifts to you.”
Demeter composed herself. “Goddess Ikapati, is this all it takes, to plant a seed and your gifts will grow for us?”
“Not quite. They need sunlight, and water, and a caring hand to watch over them.” He waved a hand and the mango tree grew instantly, sprouting with fresh fruit. “Now, Demeter, I have something very special to ask of you.”
“Of course,” she said.
“There is a garden, hidden away where no mortal can simply stumble upon it. Inside my garden grows every fruit, every grain, every flower, and every herb. Even some that have never been seen by mortal eyes.” Ikapati took a mango from the tree and held it in his hands. “When you die, you will know where the garden lies. Your spirit will not be bound for the underworld, nor the skyworld, but to that place. I want you, Demeter, to cultivate my garden and guard it from those who are not worthy to harvest from it.”
Demeter gasped. “That would be amazing, Goddess, and the highest honor I can imagine.”
“You aren’t ready yet,” Ikapati said, chuckling. “Serve your village and feed them well. And... remember to leave some for me.”
He winked and disappeared.
Demeter did as he said, and lived a long life. Her village thrived, expanding out into fields where they could grow even more crops. Flowers blossomed in the yard of every home. Demeter died, surrounded by her family and the food they’d made. She smiled, and her spirit left for the garden, where she can be found even today, if you look hard enough.