ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 10:12 am 
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An ancient forest stretches out in all directions, so old that its original name is long forgotten to the minds of even the Elven kind. To those that live in these times, it is known only as the Old Forest. In this place, the trees remember knowledge lost to the walking folk, ancient wisdom runs through the sap in their immense cores. To the north, an expanse of plains, the Trollmire... To the south, Lake Nur. And in the centre, a small child, barely a babe, lying cold and alone.
The treants gather and debate what is to be done. The treefolk have no love for those of flesh and bone, and they hold no mercy in their grains for the weak, including young abandoned by their mothers to their fate. But this one is different. He does not cry out for his mother, he does not shiver and mewl. There is a strength to the babe... And something else. A quality they have not seen often in the flesh folk, and never in one so young. He possesses a spark of ancient wisdom, buried within him. It is decided, in time, that he is to be preserved, and the ancient wisdom nurtured.
And so it came to pass that the babe was raised by the treefolk. He was suckled on the milk of bears and wolves, as well as the sap and nectar of the treants. In truth, the babe should not have survived the first winter, as the snows fell and most treefolk fell to sleep. But he did. More than survived, the babe continued to thrive, learning to stand and walk on his own. As the spring came and the snows cleared, the babe, now a boy, began to run. And hunt.
The treefolk taught him of the ways of the wilds. How to survive. No more the milk of beasts was he given, he was given fish and meat and fruits. And as the boy grew, he was taught to speak to the wilds, the beasts and trees. He learned quickly, as though he already knew. He was taught to trust his instincts, to use the wisdom that he had within him.
In his fifth summer, a dryness plagued the Old Forest. Rain had been scarce, and so when lightning struck a birch tree it was consumed swiftly in a... force. Red and orange like the autumn leaves, but the heat that came from it was more than the boy had ever known. He was drawn away from it quickly, and spirited away by his treant caregivers. The force spread to another tree, and another, bathing them all in the glow of heat.
The rains came, and the force was eventually dispatched, but when it left, that which it had touched was blackened and dead. Their voices and wisdom were gone forever. The treefolk told him the name of the force. Flame. A heat that hungered, and consumed all it touched. It was to be feared. And it was then that the boy learned of fear. And Flame.
By his seventh summer, he knew all he needed to live independantly. The treants had given him a name. In the tongue of Man, it was Walker-of-the-Grove. With this name, Walker-of-the-Grove was given the barks and furs of his caregivers, fashioned into a set of clothes, that he may show his status as one of the Old Forest.
But times of harmony and peace never last in Maj'Eyal, as history teaches us. And so it was with Walker-of-the-Grove.
She would come in the autumn, amoung the brilliant crimson and subdued gold. She wore flowing garments and carried a wand of elm, like an elongated finger. She would come with shouts and calls, cries for someone she called many things, 'whoreson', 'thief', 'blackguard', 'coward', and 'Jerel'.
The treefolk were wary, but Walker-of-the-Grove was curious. She was taller than he, and slender, with long, pointed ears. But she was one of flesh, as he. She walked on two legs, as he. Walker-of-the-Grove wished to learn more. He promised his caretakers he would see her gone, and moved to appear before her. "Why do you come to this place?" he asked her in the tongue of Man, a tongue he had never before this day spoken or heard.
She regarded this boy, dressed in clothes of bark and fur, his rumpled brown hair matted and unkempt and no part of him indicating civilization. A child of the brigand Jerel? No, impossible. But then, who? It mattered little. Jerel had something of great value, and he was not this boy. But perhaps the boy knew where he was. "Where is Jerel?" she demanded, her voice harsh and demanding.
The boy would only regard her with incomprehension. "What is 'Jerel'?" he would enquire in turn. the word was unfamiliar to him. Many things were unfamiliar, as he was still but a child.
This would only infuriate the female. She had no desire to deal with this boy who dared mock her. "Leave me, boy! I have business with Jerel, and I will not be stalled by a wild child." Her ire was apparent, but Walker-of-the-Grove would not be dissuaded.
"I know not what 'Jerel' is, but we do not wish you here." he pressed. "If you tell me what a 'Jerel' is, I will help you find it, that you may be on your way."
'We'? What did this boy play at? She would glare at him. "A man." she states, her displeasure obvious in the flatness of her voice. "He has something of mine, and I would have it--" And then she saw a flicker, a motion in the woods over the boy's shoulder. Jerel! it must be! The bastard had hoped to ambush her while distracting her with this boy!
It was at this point she created with a wave of her hand a ball of something Walker-of-the-Grove had only seen once... Flame. He remembered it well. And so he fled as the Flame was cast from the female's hand. He ran and he ran, until in his panic he tripped and fell. When he looked behind him, the Flame had consumed much. Many many trees held the flame as it fed upon them, and it was spreading further. So many lives... So many voices. Tears streamed from Walker-of-the-Grove's eyes as he contined running.
By the time the boy had stopped running, he had fled the Old Forest entirely, and stood at the base of a great rock. It stretched high into the air. As though called, Walker-of-the-Grove climbed the rock. As he climbed, he thought of all the voices that left the Old Forest, all the knowledge and history that was consumed by the Flame. Wisdom, literally rising into the air in the black clouds.
At the top of the great rock there was a pond, a pool of water deep but not very large. And in the center there was a rock.But the rock was not that which the boy found most interesting... In the center of this rock-island in the middle of the pond was a sapling, a new tree. Walker-of-the-Grove swam to the rock, overjoyed. A new tree... Another tree. It was small, growing out of the rock itself. No soil fed its roots. It was special, like Walker-of-the-Grove. The boy spoke to the new tree at length, each quite curious about the other, sharing their respective wisdom.
The tree needed no soil, it told him. Its roots jined with the very living rock beneath it and gave it all it needed. But still, Walker-of-the-Grove stayed with the tree, and tended it, promoting its growth. Neither should have survived that first winter, but miraculously they did, exposed on the rock.
For ten summers the boy and the tree lived together. Walker-of-the-Grove lived on fish and algae from the life-giving and nourishing pond, the water itself possessing a nourishing quality. The tree grew as well, straight and tall like the boy, though not very broad. After ten summers, it was only as thick as Walker-of-the-Grove's fist. Still, it was very strong. Veins of silvery metal intertwined with the grains of wood within the tree, leeched from the meteoric rock. Walker-of-the-Grove named the tree Ironbough after this quality.
But again, an autumn would come that would disrupt the harmony of Walker-of-the-Grove. In Maj'Eyal, contentment and tranquility are flightful things.
He would come. He was not tall, as Walker-of-the-Grove had become, and he was not broad. But he held a power about him, one that made Walker-of-the-Grove nervous. He dressed in clothes of brown and blue, and carried a stave of yew, gnarled as an old one. At one moment, the small one stood at the edge of the pond, and the next, he was before Walker-of-the-Grove, standing only to the young man's thigh. But he was looking not at Walker-of-the-Grove, but at Ironbough.
"Fascinating..." the small one said, approaching Ironbough and placing his hand upon its veins. "It uses the Voratun within the meteor as nutrition... But how do its roots push so deep? Sososo curious..." He stooped down to examine the base of Ironbough, prodding with stubby fingers.
Walker-of-the-Grove was wary of the short stranger, but so far he was not hurting Ironbough, so he would simply be wary. "Why do you come here? Why does Ironbough interest you so?" he enquired of the small one.
The small one looked up, and blinked. "Ironbough? Oh, this tree? Such a strange thing, to name a tree.... But a fitting name, for a savage." He smiled, a friendly gesture to most. But bared teeth in the wilds is a threat. Walker-of-the-Grove knew the intent, but the social cue did not translate well to him. "Is this yours, hm? Ah, but it must be." He spoke quickly, too quickly for Walker-of-the-Grove to respond. "Impressive magic, this. Yes, the talent is apparent, but quite raw. That will not do, nopenopenope." He shakes his head animatedly. "Come, I will train you, teach you all of the magics. And clothes. I do not relish being eye-level with your bared groin, young savage. Sososo savage."
Leave? But Ironbough was here. The pond was here. Walker-of-the-Grove had all he needed. He advanced, placing a hand on his one friend in the world. "No. I like it here. I do not like your 'magics'. You are strange and unsettling. Please go."
"Strange? Unsettling?!" The small one stood, suddenly quite furious. "You are like them! They said such things... But I will show them! You! I will show you! Yesyesyes!" He waved his arms frantically, and the sky darkened for a moment. Walker-of-the-Grove was suddenly quite afraid. But as he stooped to push the small one away, a light flashed, blinding and pure white, with a deafening crackling. Then, all went black.
When Walker-of-the-Grove came to, he was alone on the rock once more. But now, he was truly alone... Ironbough had gone silent. It stood still, its wood blackened and scorched, a chunk of rock surrounding it broken free. The veins of metal in the roots and the rock had become one, and the metal within Ironbough itself had hardened in the flash-tempering. But Ironbough was dead. Walker-of-the-Grove lifted his dead friend in his hands, weeping. It was fused with the rock it was attached to, they were inseperable, but the rock was not so much that Walker-of-the-Grove could not lift it.
His friend may be dead, but Walker-of-the-Grove wanted to keep it around. And he wanted to find the small one with the magics. And the one with the pointed ears. He wanted to find them, and he wanted to make them hurt... He wanted to kill them. He wanted to kill all the ones that did these things, that destroyed the wilds for their own purposes. For no reason. For any reason. And so, with Ironbough in his hands, he took one last drink of the nourishing pond, and then swam across it to find the ones with the magics.


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