Search for the Truth (short story)

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This is a creative work set in the world of Elanthia, attributed to its original author(s). It does not necessarily represent the official lore of GemStone IV.

Title: Search for the Truth

Author: Rohese Bayvel

Family Tree

First published on the 9th day of Olaesta in the year 5120

Following on from Eternal Knowledge, this journal is a repository of vignettes including insights into Rohese's continued story and her search for the truth about her family and, in particular, the mysteries of the Codex Ista.

Prologue

Extract from Rohese's diary, entry dated the first day in the month of Lormesta in the year 5120.

I am standing at a crossroads.  

I could choose to ignore everything that has happened to me over the past year and continue with the mundane rituals of my life - rising at dawn and humbly carrying out my duties and responsibilities until the sun sets, only to repeat it all again the next day - but taking the easy road back means I remain this Rohese forever.  

To either side of me are enticing alternatives or slight deviations where little is fundamentally different in my life but there are opportunities for growth; where I remain a widow and fully embrace a spiritual existence.

Or ... I take a step forward and then another, into the unknown.  I choose to love again and, with strength and guidance, I search for the truth about my heritage.

Glowbark

Rohese's great-great grandmother on her father's side was of Veythorne descent. It made perfect sense that she should start her search for the truth in the grounds of the nearby family estate, and, more specifically, at the glowbark tree where her ashes had been scattered.

Rohese had recently spent a few weeks at her grandfather's house learning all there was to know about this remarkable lady. Born in 2956, Rahese Versillian (nee Veythorne) rose to become a respected Loremaster with a reputation for her rather forthright opinions on questionable study practices. Her own field of research focused predominantly on the Elanthian Moons and her only published work entitled "Where Sacred Beauty meets Divine Power" became standard text for many young academics and students of selenology. At the height of her career, Rahese served as an advisor to the Ta'Illistim royal court before stepping down to give birth to her daughter, Miramie, in the year 3464. Little is written about her after that and Rohese had to rely on household accounts to determine the date of her death and manner of her subsequent burial rite.

Whilst Rahese chose not to have a memorial tree planted in her honor, she nonetheless wished to have her memories preserved by binding herself to the familial glowbark tree and Rohese was eager to find out more from this potential source of information. She felt that Rahese held the key to learning more about the effaced writing in her grandmother's book and the peculiar text that manifested itself beneath her own skin from time-to-time; not to mention the puzzling lines of ink that permanently marked her spine.

The Lady Elaejia Silithyr had kindly agreed to be her companion and assist in the matter as she was familiar with the spiritual link between elves and trees. The intention was to commune with the glowbark in an attempt to glean some knowledge about the original source of the book and its mysteries.

A secret hope of Rohese's was that this would also enable them to form a better bond, given that she was the cousin to her own beloved Aendir. Rohese felt that she had not made a very good impression on Elaejia at the outset so was eager to rectify that as soon as possible.

I must remember not to be too effusive!

Rohese murmured this mantra to herself as she headed towards the Green in the hopes of finding Elaejia that afternoon.

The Glowbark Tree

[Ta'Illistim Green]
At the southern end of the green, the expanse of carefully manicured lawn is broken up by a low pool, set flush to the ground and surrounded with a ring of cut stone socles.  Beyond the statuary, the grass continues until hitting a low silver fence.  You also see some cushioned benches and a sterling silver serving cart with some stuff on it.

Elaejia gives a short little hum of surprise.
You glance up.
Elaejia smiles at you.
You feel your face lighten as a smile spreads across your face, the thick fabric of your lamb's wool cowl hiding the majority of the expression, though it can do nothing for your eyes.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "This is a nice surprise."

You see Lady Elaejia Silithyr Loenthra the Aristocrat.
She appears to be an Elf.
She is moderately tall.  She appears to have come of age.  She has subtly tilted cobalt-violet eyes and rose-tinted fair skin.  She has very long, silky caramel-brushed blonde hair with thick side-swept bangs.  She has a thin-boned, gracefully angular countenance, tapering to a softly pointed chin.
She is in good shape.
She is holding a gilt-spined saffron leather volume in her right hand.
She is wearing a high-collared ruched cream partlet ringed by a prismatic rose-gold fire agate medallion choker, a small abstract silver pendant, a pleated dark leather bookbag with a braided silk shoulder strap slung over her shoulder, a pauldroned dark grey suede corset with a rolled half-collar over some graduated leather banded armor, a filmy rose taupe chiffon blouse, a warm cherrywood bangle inlaid with amber bands, a gilt-inlay ebony signet band, a distressed suede specimen kit bound in mithril mesh, a heavy black silk blade harness, and some mottled grey wool leggings striped with thin pieces of leather under some slouched black leather boots set on narrow dark cherry heels.

Speaking pleasantly in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "Lady Rohese, indeed."
You close a pavonated leather-bound book.
You place your hand on your leather-bound book.
Elaejia laughs softly, trying to hide her amusement.
Elaejia glances at a gilt-spined saffron leather volume in her hand.
Speaking in Elven, you softly ask, "Join me in some tea?"
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "We both came out to read this afternoon, I see."
You laugh softly, trying to hide your amusement.
You nod.
Elaejia put a gilt-spined saffron leather volume in her dark leather bookbag.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "It's a lovely afternoon for it."
You lightly pat the cushioned benches.
Elaejia smiles.
Elaejia sits down next to you.
You put a pavonated leather-bound book in your white suede satchel.
You draw the hood of your cowl off of your head, you loosen the toggles at your neckline, and pull the piece free.
You let out a sigh of relief.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia wryly notes, "Perhaps another drink, though."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you continue, "It's been some time but do you recall my rather hasty note a few weeks ago?"
Elaejia looks around for something.
Elaejia nods briefly to you.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you explain, "I believe I know where I can start looking for some answers."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you add, "If you are still willing to help me?"
You bite your lip.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia recalls, "It was in the gardens at Veythorne, I believe you indicated?"
You nod eagerly.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you elaborate, "I was working on my genealogy and it occurred to me that my great-great grandmother was of the Veythorne line."
Elaejia nods to you.
Speaking thoughtfully mystical in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "Do you know what sort of questions you might have?"
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I have been led to believe that her ashes were scattered in the garden so I thought we might take a look."
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I think so."
You nod at Elaejia.
Elaejia smiles.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "I am of course still willing to assist in whatever way I can."
You beam happily at Elaejia!
Speaking relievedly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Thank you."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you admit, "I have no idea how to reach out to her but if you can help, I would be so grateful."
You bite your lip.
Elaejia nods slowly.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia asks, "And you believe she may have bound herself to a tree?"
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I do."
You nod at Elaejia.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "From what I can gather from family journals, Rahese asked for her ashes to be scattered around the tree."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "That would make sense, particularly if they were closely bound."
Elaejia nods to you.
You nod in agreement at Elaejia.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "That bodes well, for learning something of use."
You smile at Elaejia.
Elaejia smiles at you.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia asks, "Have you considered what offering we may bring?"
Speaking hopefully in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Even if it gives us an idea where else to look."
You tap a flask of pure water, which is in your right hand.
Elaejia nods approvingly.
Speaking in Elven, you softly ask, "Would this be acceptable, do you think?"
You let out a sigh of relief.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia amusedly says, "I cannot think of a plant that would be displeased with water."
You put a flask of pure water in your lamb's wool robes.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I thought so too."
You wrinkle your nose.
Elaejia tilts her head up.
Speaking sheepishly in Elven to Elaejia, you inquire, "Do I need to do anything to prepare?"
You bite your lip.
Elaejia shakes her head.
You nod faintly.
Speaking appreciatively in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Thank you so much for agreeing to help me with this."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "Not really, the spirits of trees are not overly concerned such trifles."
You nod understandingly at Elaejia.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "And if we are on the right track, it will recognize you as her line, and be more open to you in any event."
You let out a long, contemplative breath.
You glance around the area.
You gaze thoughtfully at your signet ring.
Speaking quietly in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "Are you nervous?"
You nod slightly.
You giggle softly.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I'm afraid of what I might learn."
You bite your lip.
Elaejia cocks her head.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia asks, "Why is that?"
Speaking anxiously in Elven to Elaejia, you ask, "What if my family has a scandal or secret that we never knew about?"
You wrinkle your nose.
Elaejia blinks.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia assures, "I cannot imagine that will be the case, lady Rohese."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you confide, "But I'm more concerned that I will be a disappointment to them."
You slowly and deliberately empty your filled lungs.
You glance away.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "Your grandmother literally wrote the book on how to avoid scandal."
You close your eyes for a moment.
You giggle softly at Elaejia.
Speaking relievedly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Very true."
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "I am equally sure your accomplishments thus far speak for themselves."
Speaking carefully in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "You should be sure, though, that you wish to proceed."
Speaking decisively in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I am.  I need to know what my legacy is."
Elaejia smiles.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "And I need to know it's not sinister in nature."
Elaejia nods understandingly.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "Removing the weight from your mind will be a boon to your path, I am sure."
Speaking in Elven, you softly agree, "It's the not knowing that worries me so much."
Speaking cryptically in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "You've seen the ..."
You glance around the area.
Elaejia nods understandingly.
You quietly whisper to Elaejia, "... markings on my back."
You clear your throat.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia murmurs, "I would be alarmed as well, I understand."
You smile at Elaejia.
You let out a long, contemplative breath.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I can't tell you how much better I feel for having shared it with you and Akenna though."
Speaking relievedly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "It was a load off my mind."
Elaejia bites her lip.
You wrinkle your nose.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia asks, "Indeed?"
Elaejia furtively glances at you.
Speaking hesitantly in Elven to you, Elaejia murmurs, "I have always found that quite difficult."
(Rohese tentatively reaches out to take Elaejia's hand but withdraws at the last moment.)
You nod faintly.
Elaejia takes a deep breath.
(Elaejia takes your hand.)
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you confide, "Whilst I have many acquaintances, I have few close friends that I can share such things with."
You let out a sigh of relief.
Elaejia smiles a bit awkwardly, fidgeting slightly.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia agrees, "On that we are similar."
(Rohese squeezes Elaejia's hand in her own, resting her other hand over the top in a gesture of sharing a confidence.)
You smile at Elaejia.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia quietly says, "I am honored to be counted among that few, lady Rohese."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "And I am honoured that you have accepted me into your family, Lady Elaejia."
Speaking in Elven, you lightly say, "But please, it's just Rohese."
You wrinkle your nose.
Elaejia chuckles to herself.
Elaejia nods in agreement.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia briskly says, "If you are ready, however, we should proceed before night falls."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "There, now we are truly friends."
Elaejia tilts her head up.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "Let's."
You nod.
You let out a long, contemplative breath.
You stand back up.
Elaejia stands up.
You smile at Elaejia.
Elaejia takes a deep breath.
Elaejia nods.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I shall be guided by you."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia amusedly says, "Luckily I have learned my way around this city."
You giggle softly.
Elaejia steps through the gate, passing under its arch in the direction of the United Bank of City-States.
You step through the gate, passing under its arch and arriving at the steps of the United Bank of City-States.

TRAVELLING TO VEYTHORE MANOR

Lady Elaejia just slipped quietly down a tree-lined pathway, with her group following closely.

WANDERING THE GARDENS

Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "This garden is truly a jewel."
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "It's such a joy to wander."

[Veythorne Manor, Gardens]
Thin vines of flaeshorn curl around the gates to the west, their golden berries plump and lustrous.  An ancient sycamore tree spreads its massive limbs up toward the sky, dipping and bending into comfortable crooks before tapering out into thin leaf-strung branches.  The massive, curving roots of the sycamore arc over tiny streams that circle its base, the meandering path of the water tracing interwoven patterns along the moss-ridden ground.
Also here: Lady Elaejia

A spiny dark green leaf lazily drifts in on a soft breeze and settles to the ground.
You pick up a spiny dark green leaf.

Elaejia smiles.
You give your eyebrow a little workout.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia murmurs, "Perhaps they were expecting you..."
Speaking in Elven, you cautiously say, "I'm wondering if it's a sign."
You nod slowly.
You gaze thoughtfully at your dark green leaf.
Elaejia gazes thoughtfully at an ancient sycamore tree.
You gaze thoughtfully at an ancient sycamore tree.

The sycamore tree appears quite old -- its bark covered with clusters of deep green moss and its spindly limbs ascending towards the heavens.  Its massive branches curl around one another to form a plethora of cozy crooks, and its deep green foliage shivers briefly as the wind passes by.

You brush your fingers lightly against your dark green leaf.
You glance at an ancient sycamore tree.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "It is a good sign.  They are open to you already."
You agree with Elaejia.
Speaking in Elven, you distantly say, "I will keep it safe."

Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia explains, "Their spirits are in conversation all the time."
You smile at Elaejia.
You glance between Elaejia and an ancient sycamore tree.
Speaking curiously in Elven to Elaejia, you ask, "They are connected?"
Elaejia nods to you.
Speaking softly in Elven to an ancient sycamore tree, you say, "We will return."
You reach out and touch an ancient sycamore tree.
Closing her eyes, Elaejia lowers her forehead to an ancient sycamore tree in a reverent gesture.

MOVING ON

[Veythorne Manor, The Glowbark]
Deep shadows grip the area in perpetual night, not even a pinpoint of light winking through the velvety shroud of darkness that shifts restlessly overhead.  An ancient glowbark tree towers over the surroundings -- an ethereal radiance rhythmically pulsing outward from the deep furrows in its bark.  Sirenflowers grow along the edges of the streams trickling beneath the massive roots of the tree, sending forth eerie cries that flow into one another to form a slow, sad melody that hangs over the area like a fog.
Also here: Lady Elaejia

Speaking in Elven, you wistfully confide, "This is where my husband proposed to me."
You gaze wistfully at an ancient glowbark tree.
Elaejia gives a short little hum of surprise.

A chill draft of wind whistles by, evoking a cascade of soft, somber wails from the sirenflowers growing upon the ground.

You brush your fingers lightly against a vivid multi-hued sirenflower.
(Rohese approaches the glowbark tree slowly, her steps faltering as a pulse of phosphorescence illuminates the bark for a moment.)
You gasp.

Tiny orbs of rainbow-hued light swirl among the leaves of the tree, sending forth ethereal cries of beauty before they hide amongst its leaves once more.

Speaking quietly in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "You have many connections here, another auspicious situation."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you ask, "Did you see that?"
You nod slowly.
Elaejia nods slowly to you.

The sirenflowers whisper in soft, echoing tones to one another before rising into their eerie ballad once more.

You glance up.
You smile quietly to yourself.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "Please find a place and center yourself for a moment, Rohese."
You nod faintly at Elaejia.
You glance around the area.

The glow from the tree pulses slightly, sending forth shimmering waves of incandescence across the surroundings.

You close your eyes for a moment.
You let out a long, contemplative breath.
Speaking in Elven, you quietly murmur, "The lights are so pretty."
You glance up.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia softly agrees, "They are."

The ghostly blue leaves of the glowbark tree shiver briefly.

Speaking in Elven, you distantly add, "Almost hypnotic."
You gaze in wonder at an ancient glowbark tree.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "They are attuned to you, I think."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I do feel at peace here."
You nod at Elaejia.

The ghostly blue leaves of the glowbark tree shiver briefly.

Elaejia nods approvingly.
Elaejia grabs a wavy-bladed ritual dagger of black stone and bone from inside her leather ritual satchel.
You give your eyebrow a little workout.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia assures, "A tool, only.  Not a weapon."

The glow from the tree pulses slightly, sending forth shimmering waves of incandescence across the surroundings.

You let out a sigh of relief.
Elaejia chuckles to herself.
Elaejia leans forward.
Speaking nervously in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I would hate for anyone to get hurt."
Elaejia drags her ritual dagger through the dirt, creating a large ritual circle.
You glance down.
You gaze thoughtfully at a large ritual circle drawn in the dirt.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "They do not require such low methods."
You smile.

The ghostly blue leaves of the glowbark tree shiver briefly.

Elaejia grabs a vaalin-rimmed glass bottle containing pieces of golden amber from inside her leather ritual satchel.
Elaejia gives her bottle a hard shake, causing a piece of golden amber to fall into her hand.
Elaejia tosses a vaalin-rimmed glass bottle containing pieces of golden amber inside her leather ritual satchel.
Elaejia carefully places a piece of golden amber on the ground.
You glance down.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you remark, "Such a pretty stone."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia explains, "Amber originates with them."
You nod understandingly.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia continues, "Both of us must bring an offering, and that is mine.. The return of something that is theirs."

The ghostly blue leaves of the glowbark tree shiver briefly.

You remove a flask of pure water from in your lamb's wool robes.
Speaking in Elven, you tentatively inquire, "Should I pour this now?"
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia quietly agrees, "Kneel in the circle and introduce yourself."
Elaejia nods to you.
You nod.
Carefully stepping over the dirt, you enter a large ritual circle drawn in the dirt and kneel down, head bowed, eyes downcast.

The glow from the tree pulses slightly, sending forth shimmering waves of incandescence across the surroundings.

Speaking reverently in Elven to an ancient glowbark tree, you say, "My name is Rohese Bayvel.  Please consider me to be a friend."

Tiny orbs of rainbow-hued light swirl among the leaves of the tree, sending forth ethereal cries of beauty before they hide amongst its leaves once more.

Elaejia takes a few steps back.
Speaking softly in Elven to an ancient glowbark tree, you continue, "I bring you life."
Elaejia inclines her head.
(Rohese passes her hand over the pure water murmuring a prayer of blessing to the elements.)
You pour the contents of your pure water on the tree.  The clear liquid quickly evaporates.
That was the last drop.

A chill draft of wind whistles by, evoking a cascade of soft, somber wails from the sirenflowers growing upon the ground.

The ghostly blue leaves of the glowbark tree shiver briefly.

(Rohese reaches out to tentatively place her hand against the trunk of the glowbark tree.  As if in response to her touch, a flare of spectral light blinds her for a moment and she retracts her hand with a start.)
You gasp.
Elaejia nods encouragingly to you.
Speaking in Elven, you anxiously ask, "Too soon?"
You bite your lip.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia quietly says, "I do not think so.  It is in the nature of the glowbark to shine."
You smile.
(Rohese hesitates for a moment before replacing her hand on the glowbark tree with a little more determination.  The slightest pressure of her palm causes pale blue phosphorescence to seep out between her fingers and bathe her skin.)

Tiny orbs of rainbow-hued light swirl among the leaves of the tree, sending forth ethereal cries of beauty before they hide amongst its leaves once more.

You close your eyes for a moment.
Elaejia kneels down.

The ghostly blue leaves of the glowbark tree shiver briefly.

(Elaejia leans forward with a bowed head, murmuring under her breath.  She places her palms flat on the ground, infusing mana into the earth around the roots of the glowbark.)
You glance nervously at Elaejia.
Speaking quietly in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "The spirit recognizes you, that is certain."
Your face lights up with joy.

The glow from the tree pulses slightly, sending forth shimmering waves of incandescence across the surroundings.

Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you ask, "That's good, yes?"

The dirt at the edges of the ritual circle shifts slightly, the overall shape becoming a little less distinct.

Elaejia nods once to you.
You let out a sigh of relief.
You gaze fondly at an ancient glowbark tree.

The glow from the tree pulses slightly, sending forth shimmering waves of incandescence across the surroundings.

Speaking quietly in Elven to you, Elaejia reminds, "Remember now.. This is a tree's spirit.  Your inquiry may be puzzling to it."
You nod understandingly at Elaejia.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "But the many connections you have here are all in our favor."
Speaking quietly in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "When you feel you are ready, make your entreaty."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I've always wondered why I felt drawn to this place."
You nod slowly.
You turn to face an ancient glowbark tree.
(Elaejia places her palms down once again, channeling another offering of mana into the earth with quiet murmurings.)

The dirt at the edges of the ritual circle shifts slightly, the overall shape becoming a little less distinct.

(Rohese rests her hands on the soil at the base of the glowbark tree.  Closing her eyes, she murmurs a blessing under her breath before sitting back on her heels to raise her eyes to the tantalising glimpses of sky overhead.)
The glow from the tree pulses slightly, sending forth shimmering waves of incandescence across the surroundings.

Elaejia gazes with interest at you.
Speaking reverently in Elven to an ancient glowbark tree, you say, "Much has happened to me over the last year.  I am hoping to find answers about the strange things happening to me."

A few ghostly blue leaves slowly sink to the ground from the huge bough of the glowbark tree, their pale light resembling wisps of gossamer in the darkness.

You glance down.
You pick up a radiant ghostly blue leaf.
You glance at Elaejia.
You smile quietly to yourself.
Elaejia slowly empties her lungs.
Speaking excitedly in Elven to Elaejia, you ask, "This is a good sign, yes?"
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia breathes, "The bond between this spirit and your line must be remarkable, Rohese."
An arctic fox pads in.
You glance at an arctic fox.
The arctic fox paws at the ground.
Elaejia looks thoughtfully at an arctic fox.
The arctic fox sits down.
The dirt on the ground shifts significantly, the ritual circle completely losing its distinct shape and effectively disappearing.
You incline your head.

The fox appears to be a magnificent specimen of his kind.  A barely perceptible aura encompasses him and a distinct look of intelligence fills his glittering eyes.
He is carrying a smooth flat pebble with an off-center hole.

Speaking in Elven, you curiously ask, "Is he with you?"
The arctic fox roots around the room.
The arctic fox barks.
You ponder the meaning of an arctic fox's existence.
The arctic fox drops a smooth flat pebble with an off-center hole.
You bite your lip.
Elaejia gazes with interest at an arctic fox.
The arctic fox paws at the ground.
You nod slowly.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia murmurs, "It seems he is."
You pick up a smooth flat pebble with an off-center hole.

The moment your hand touches the stone, you get a flash of a vision.

Speaking in Elven, you softly ask, "What an odd looking thing?"
You incline your head.

Ink appearing on skin, similar to your own, not quite identical.

And a carved wooden pendant with the image of a dogwood blossom.

You close your eyes for a moment.
Elaejia takes a moment to observe you.
Elaejia gives a sidelong glance at an arctic fox.
Speaking excitedly in Elven to Elaejia, you exclaim, "A vision!"
You ponder the meaning of an arctic fox's existence.
The arctic fox barks.
The arctic fox stands up.
The arctic fox pads off.
Elaejia slowly empties her lungs.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you elaborate, "I saw ink appearing on skin but it wasn't mine."
You shake your head.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you add, "And a carved wooden pendant with a blossom on it."
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process.
You gaze thoughtfully at your flat pebble.
You glance at an ancient glowbark tree.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "The connection is quite remarkable, Rohese."
Elaejia shakes her head, totally at a loss.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "I was confident we would learn something, but ..."
You slowly and deliberately empty your filled lungs.
(Rohese reaches out to touch the glowbark tree again, allowing its blue auric field to envelop her.  A gentle breeze stirs her hair, causing it to shimmer with an ethereal light.  The faint text beneath the skin on the back of her hand rises to the surface, the words, "seek" and "find" becoming legible for a moment before fading away.)
Elaejia gazes in wonder at you.
You glance down.
Speaking appreciatively in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I think we have a lot to think about."
Elaejia nods slowly to you.
You smile at Elaejia.
Speaking gratefully in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Thank you so much."
You gaze thoughtfully at your flat pebble.

Worn smooth by water erosion, the pale grey pebble sits comfortably in the palm of the hand.  Roughly ovoid in shape, it features a small natural hole near the edge that allows the user to peer through.

Speaking wryly in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "I cannot be certain I was needed-- the spirit was waiting for you, I think."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you exclaim, "Not at all, I wouldn't have known where to start without you!"
Elaejia smiles.
Elaejia stands up.
Closing her eyes, Elaejia lowers her forehead to an ancient glowbark tree in a reverent gesture.
You turn to face an ancient glowbark tree.
Speaking in Elven to an ancient glowbark tree, Elaejia murmurs, "We are grateful for the energy you expended this day."
Speaking wistfully in Elven to an ancient glowbark tree, you say, "Thank you."
You brush your fingers lightly against an ancient glowbark tree.
You nod.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I need to try and identify the blossom I saw on the pendant."
Speaking curiously in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "Could you make out any detail about it, or the ink?"
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "Tapered and with a pink tinge."
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process.
Speaking in Elven, you frustratedly say, "I've seen it before, I know I have."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "It will come to you, I am sure... perhaps try sketching it."
Elaejia nods to you.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "That's a good idea, I'll do that when I get home and send it to you."
You nod appreciatively at Elaejia.
Elaejia slowly empties her lungs.
You gaze thoughtfully at your flat pebble.
Speaking softly in Elven to your flat pebble, you ask, "And what are you all about?"
You turn your flat pebble over and over in your hands.
Speaking carefully in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "To be presented with a gift... I am not certain what to make of it."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I've seen pebbles like these at my grandfather's house."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I will write to him and ask."
You smile at Elaejia.

A pale yellow sunset closes out the cold day.

Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "Whether it comes from your kin, or from the spirit itself is the first thing that comes to mind for me."
You nod understandingly at Elaejia.
You glance up.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "You were right to make the most of the daylight."
You smile at Elaejia.
Elaejia chuckles to herself.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "They sleep in the evenings as well."
You smile quietly to yourself.

The ghostly blue leaves of the glowbark tree shiver briefly.

Speaking gratefully in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Thank you again for your assistance today."
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "I will see about finding more information on this development as well."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Let's meet again soon."

The ghostly blue leaves of the glowbark tree shiver briefly.
Elaejia nods in agreement to you.
You kiss Elaejia on the cheek.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "Good night, Rohese."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Forgive me but I had to."
Speaking in Elven, you fondly say, "Good night, Elaejia."
Elaejia smiles awkwardly.
Elaejia nods understandingly.
You reach out and touch an ancient glowbark tree.
You sigh wistfully.
(Elaejia slips away quietly.)
You rub the surface of your flat pebble, taking solace in its simple design.

Sycamore

Cradling the spiny dark green leaf in her hand, Rohese was reminded of her recent walk in the Veythorne Manor Gardens with the Lady Elaejia Silithyr. Their aim had been to commune with the ancient glowbark tree but, on route, this leaf had fluttered to the ground at their feet. Rohese was not generally superstitious but the leaf did seem to be a portent of some kind and it had played on her mind since.

The vision she had received that same day – of a carved wooden pendant with the image of a dogwood blossom – had resulted in her visiting her grandfather again to seek further answers. If anything, her time spent with him had generated more questions but she had returned home with a pale pink leaf pendant that had once belonged to her grandmother; and her great-grandmother, Miramie, before her.

Miramie was the daughter of Jhonuil and Rahese Versillian, born in 3464 and especially loved by both her parents. She was particularly close to her father and he had never truly recovered from her untimely death at the tender age of 347. Knowing that his only child was dying, Jhonuil had helped her to select a seedpod for a memorial tree and subsequently bind herself to it. He dutifully planted the seedpod in the grounds of the Veythorne Manor on the day of her death in 3811. At the same time, he ensured that both he and Rahese had made arrangements for their own memorials so that – in death - they would be reunited with their beloved daughter.

Jhonuil only outlived his wife, Rahese, by a year but in that time he had arranged for her ashes to be scattered around the glowbark tree and, in turn, bonded with a sycamore seed that he duly planted in the same garden shortly before his own death; a sturdy tree had grown over the years laden with deep green foliage.

Unbeknownst to Rohese, the leaf she was now holding was of that same tree and, today, she planned to pay it a visit to see what she could learn from it.

The Sycamore Tree

[Ta'Illistim, Weyr Var]
Curving off from the main var is a tree-lined pathway, which leads to an ornate ivory gate.  The dogwoods at the corners of the intersection of var and path are in flower with large white blossoms, which stick out from the spindly branches, growing in such profusion that they nearly obscure them altogether.

Lady Elaejia just arrived.
You smile.
Elaejia takes a deep breath.
Speaking curiously to you, Elaejia says, "You opted for privacy."
You nod.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I did."
You bite your lip.
Speaking tentatively in Elven to Elaejia, you explain, "There is another matter I would like to discuss with you alone so I thought it best."
You glance nervously at Elaejia.
Elaejia closes her eyes for a moment.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "But first, let's find the tree."
You smile.
Elaejia nods once.

WANDERING THE GARDENS

[Veythorne Manor, Gardens]
Thin vines of flaeshorn curl around the gates to the west, their golden berries plump and lustrous.  An ancient sycamore tree spreads its massive limbs up toward the sky, dipping and bending into comfortable crooks before tapering out into thin leaf-strung branches.  The massive, curving roots of the sycamore arc over tiny streams that circle its base, the meandering path of the water tracing interwoven patterns along the moss-ridden ground.  You also see a spiny dark green leaf.

The sycamore tree appears quite old -- its bark covered with clusters of deep green moss and its spindly limbs ascending towards the heavens.  Its massive branches curl around one another to form a plethora of cozy crooks, and its deep green foliage shivers briefly as the wind passes by.

You gasp.
You pick up a spiny dark green leaf.
You glance at an ancient sycamore tree.
Elaejia chuckles to herself.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "It's as if it was waiting for us."
You rub a spiny dark green leaf in your hand.
You gaze thoughtfully at an ancient sycamore tree.
Elaejia dryly says, "We may even need to render an apology for our tardiness."
You nod in agreement at Elaejia.
Speaking thoughtfully to an ancient sycamore tree, Elaejia says, "They are rarely in such a hurry."
(Rohese eagerly approaches the sycamore tree, her gaze drawn upward to its spindly branches.  Seeing them begin to flay wildly - a flurry of deep green foliage spiralling away into the distance - she hastily retreats, taking a few steps backwards.)
You clasp a hand over your mouth.
Elaejia gives a short little hum of surprise.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you posit, "I think it's unhappy."
You wrinkle your nose.
Elaejia frowns.
Elaejia tilts her head up.
You glance down to see a spiny dark green leaf in your right hand and nothing in your left hand.
Elaejia scans her surroundings with the alertness of a seasoned scout.
You glance warily at an ancient sycamore tree.
Elaejia slowly suggests, "Perhaps it is indeed impatient."
You nod slowly.
Elaejia takes a deep breath.
Speaking softly in Elven to an ancient sycamore tree, you apologize, "I'm sorry."
You gaze thoughtfully at your dark green leaf.
Speaking quietly to you, Elaejia asks, "You are unsettled?"
You nod slightly at Elaejia.
You hang your head.
You bite your lip.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you admit, "A little, I didn't sleep very well last night."
Elaejia reminds, "It is important to be centered, perhaps a brief meditation will help?"
You nod understandingly.
You let out a long, contemplative breath.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I'll do my best."
You glance around the area.
(Rohese steps onto the mossy ground and slowly lowers herself.)
You kneel down.
You fold your hands in your lap.
You close your eyes for a moment.
You slowly and deliberately empty your filled lungs.
You lower your gaze.
You chant a reverent orison, asking Lumnis for wisdom and guidance.
You take a deep breath.
You slowly and deliberately empty your filled lungs.
Elaejia intertwines her fingers.
(Rohese slowly opens her eyes and raises them to look up at Elaejia standing nearby.)
You stand back up.
You dust off your ivory cotton cotehardie.
Elaejia nods slowly.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you comment, "A little better."
You nod.
You glance uneasily at an ancient sycamore tree.
Elaejia asks, "Now your offering?"
Speaking nervously in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I am ready."
You remove some essence of air from in your steel vasculum.
Elaejia grabs a vaalin-rimmed glass bottle containing pieces of golden amber from inside her leather ritual satchel.
Elaejia gives her bottle a hard shake, causing a piece of golden amber to fall into her hand.
Elaejia tosses a vaalin-rimmed glass bottle containing pieces of golden amber inside her leather ritual satchel.
You gaze thoughtfully at your essence of air.
Elaejia kneels down.
You gaze with interest at an ancient sycamore tree.
You begin to watch Elaejia intently out of the corner of your eyes, while trying not to be too obvious about it.
Elaejia says, "Do not be afraid, we know already that even this spirit seeks an audience."
Elaejia smiles at you.
You smile at Elaejia.
You nod faintly.
(Rohese cups the essence of air in her hands and tries to still her breathing.)
Elaejia rubs a piece of golden amber in her hand.
You incline your head.
Elaejia takes a moment to observe you.
You wrinkle your nose.
Speaking in Elven, you softly ask, "Now?"
You take a few steps toward an ancient sycamore tree.
You kneel down.
Speaking to you, Elaejia agrees, "When you are ready.  Take your time."
(Rohese carefully lowers the essence of air to the ground, laying it to rest in the moss.)
You carefully place some essence of air on the ground.
Elaejia leans forward.
You nod at Elaejia.
You smile.
Elaejia carefully places a piece of golden amber on the ground.
You glance up.
(Elaejia places her hands on either side of the offerings and channels mana into the earth, murmuring quietly.)
(Rohese adopts a reverent pose, her hand reaching out to touch one of the curving roots at the base of the sycamore tree.  Pressing her other palm into the damp, moss-ridden ground, she closes her eyes and murmurs a blessing to the elements of air and water.)
Elaejia whispers, "Now your introduction."
You nod slowly at Elaejia.
Speaking reverently in Elven to an ancient sycamore tree, you beseech, "We come at your beckoning to ask something of you."
Elaejia gazes thoughtfully at an ancient sycamore tree.
Speaking softly in Elven to an ancient sycamore tree, you plead, "I am looking for answers to my past and need to find my grandmother's tree."
Speaking softly in Elven to an ancient sycamore tree, you plead, "Please."
Speaking frustratedly in Elven to an ancient sycamore tree, you exclaim, "You have something to tell me, I know!"
Elaejia holds her breath.
(Rohese breathes a heavy, impatient sigh as time passes.  Sensing nothing but the uncomfortable dampness of the earth beneath her hand and knees, she adjusts her position.  In desperation, she stares up at the deep green foliage again and, pressing her hand resolutely against the moss-covered bark of the sycamore tree, she whispers a final heartfelt plea into the passing wind.)
You hang your head.
You close your eyes for a moment.
You shake your head.
Elaejia frowns.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Nothing."
You bite your lip.
You remove a spiny dark green leaf from in your steel vasculum.
Speaking tearfully in Elven to an ancient sycamore tree, you ask, "Why did you send me this if you have nothing to tell me?"
You gaze thoughtfully at your dark green leaf.
Speaking to a piece of golden amber, Elaejia asks, "Are the offerings too few perhaps?"
You glance down.
You reach out and touch some essence of air.
You glance at an ancient sycamore tree.
Speaking slowly to you, Elaejia says, "Or.. it thinks you are not ready."
You nod slowly.
You gaze longingly at an ancient sycamore tree.
Elaejia frowns.
Speaking quietly to you, Elaejia says, "They do not understand most of our emotions, you know.  They are too fleeting."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you muse, "I wonder if whomever bonded with this tree was not of my great-great grandmother's line?"
Speaking slowly to an ancient sycamore tree, Elaejia says, "It doesn't seem likely that a tree unrelated to your line would seek your attention."
Speaking to you, Elaejia says, "We can attempt to make that confirmation."
You smile at Elaejia.
You nod.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "It's worth a try."
Elaejia gazes thoughtfully at an ancient sycamore tree.
Elaejia grabs a hammered copper scrying bowl from inside her leather ritual satchel.
Elaejia takes out a small flask of water and pours it into her copper scrying bowl then stows the empty flask.
You incline your head.
Elaejia rubs a hammered copper scrying bowl in her hand.
Elaejia touches the tip of her finger to the water in her copper scrying bowl and then lightly traces it around the rim.
You fold your hands in your lap.
(Elaejia nestles the bowl at the foot of the sycamore tree, before the other offerings.)
(Rohese idly thumbs the leaf in her hand, her focus entirely on Elaejia.)
Elaejia touches the tip of her finger to the water in her copper scrying bowl and then lightly traces it around the rim.
(Elaejia places her hands to the earth, once again channeling a small amount of mana into the ground at the tree's roots.  The trunk and boughs nearest the ground vibrate perceptibly, disturbing the water in the bowl so it sloshes slightly over.)
You give your eyebrow a little workout.
You bite your lip.
Speaking to you, Elaejia whispers aloud, "Place your hands around mine, and look into the water."
You nod at Elaejia.
Elaejia closes her eyes for a moment.
Elaejia touches the tip of her finger to the water in her copper scrying bowl and then lightly traces it around the rim.
(Rohese places her hands on either side of Elaejia's and peers over the rim of the bowl.)
You surreptitiously glance at an ancient sycamore tree.
Elaejia quietly emphasizes, "You must be in your center, and then request its connection."
(Rohese continues to gaze up at the sycamore tree as its spindly branches stir and shiver.  Odd leaves drift away to disappear on a gentle breeze.)
Elaejia indicates an ancient sycamore tree as a possible option.
You nod slowly at Elaejia.
Speaking quietly in Elven to an ancient sycamore tree, you request, "Oh sacred sycamore, I beseech you, please can you reveal your bond to my family."
You close your eyes for a moment.
Elaejia tilts her head down.
(Rohese takes one last look up at the sycamore tree, her fingers grazing its moss-covered bark as if beseeching it to respond.  A shudder of its spindly branches sends a shiver through the foliage and brings with it the faint whisper of the words "Jhonuil" and "persevere," before falling still again.)
You gasp.
Speaking excitedly in Elven to Elaejia, you ask, "Did you hear that?"
Elaejia cocks her head.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you explain, "Jhonuil was my great-great grandfather."
You smile.
Elaejia uncertainly says, "Ah.."
Elaejia gazes thoughtfully at an ancient sycamore tree.
Speaking in Elven, you amusedly say, "So not a direct descendent of Rahese, he married her."
You giggle softly.
You gaze fondly at an ancient sycamore tree.
Speaking kindly in Elven to an ancient sycamore tree, you say, "I understand now."
You reach out and touch an ancient sycamore tree.
Elaejia wonders, "Do you?"
You nod at Elaejia.
Elaejia gazes with interest at you.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "The pendant in the vision.  We must persevere with that."
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "My grandfather told me that Jhonuil gave it to Rahese as a gift."
You clap your hands together in delight!
Elaejia nods slowly.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you exclaim, "So we must find the dogwood tree!"
You glance around the area.
Elaejia curiously says, "It is odd yet that this spirit sought you so much."
Speaking fondly in Elven to an ancient sycamore tree, you say, "Thank you."
You reach out and touch an ancient sycamore tree.
You nod in agreement at Elaejia.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Perhaps he just wanted to let me know he was watching."
You gaze fondly at an ancient sycamore tree.
Elaejia chuckles to herself.
(Rohese kisses her three fingertips and rests them lovingly on the bark of the sycamore tree.)
Elaejia inclines her head.
You stand back up.
You dust off your ivory cotton cotehardie.
(Elaejia recovers the bowl from the ground, tipping some of the water into the earth.)
You smile.
Elaejia gets out a flask and pours the water from her copper scrying bowl into it and then puts the flask away.
Elaejia tosses a hammered copper scrying bowl inside her leather ritual satchel.
Speaking quietly to an ancient sycamore tree, Elaejia says, "We thank you for the energy you spent this day."
Elaejia reaches out and touches an ancient sycamore tree.
You gaze fondly at an ancient sycamore tree.
Elaejia stands up.
Elaejia dusts off her tailored leggings.
Speaking sincerely in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "It means so much to me that you are here with me."
You smile at Elaejia.
Elaejia bites her lip.
Bowed slightly westward, the flora follows the path of the afternoon sun.

WALKING BACK TO THE GATE

[Veythorne Manor, Gardens]
A small hill ascends to the southwest, and growing atop it is a small dogwood tree -- its arcing branches swept with immaculate pale pink leaves that flutter like feathered wings with each passing breeze.  Dark violet windflowers sprout along the ground, their numerous petals glimmering with a faint velvety sheen.  Pale crimson leaves litter the ground, mere droplets of color upon a carpet of healthy green.
Obvious paths: north, east, south
Elaejia followed.

A few of the pale crimson leaves upon the ground are picked up by an errant current of wind, swirling about in a whirling dance before settling to the ground once more.

You gaze thoughtfully at a small dogwood tree.

The dogwood tree is slightly larger than a bush, its branches arcing off in every direction to form a cloud of pale pink leaves that rustle in perfect synch with one another at any faint disturbance.

Elaejia raises an eyebrow.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "That looks like ..."
You gasp.
Elaejia nods slowly to you.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "And so close to the sycamore."
You glance north.
Speaking to you, Elaejia asks, "Do you think it could be..?"
You let out a long, contemplative breath.
You giggle softly.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I wouldn't put it past him."
You wrinkle your nose.
You gaze thoughtfully at a small dogwood tree.

Speaking to a small dogwood tree, Elaejia says, "It must be a lovely thing, to be so near the sycamore, if so."
(Elaejia's breath hitches again, slightly.)
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "To be so close to his own daughter."
The dogwood tree rocks back and forth slowly, its pale pink leaves rustling back and forth like gossamer wings.

You reach out and touch a small dogwood tree.
Speaking amusedly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I think we know where to come next."
You giggle softly.
Elaejia nods slowly.

Butterflies flit about the tree and the dark violet windflowers, their tiny wings adding delicate swaths of vivid color to the surroundings.

You sigh happily.
You pick up a radiant ghostly blue leaf.
You smile quietly to yourself.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I think Rahese approves."
Elaejia smiles.

Dogwood (by Day)

The resemblance was uncanny. Gazing at her own reflection in the mirror and back at the portrait of Miramie Anuviel in her hand, Rohese could barely tell the difference. The portrait had accompanied a recent letter from her grandfather in which he had attempted to answer some of her questions about the family.

He had shared his memories of Miramie's untimely death and how Rohese’s grandmother, Sahese, had grieved for a year. During that time, she had visited a dogwood sapling in the grounds of Veythorne Manor each day to tend it. Nothing was ever said about the cause of Miramie's death but he had been conscious of hushed conversations between his wife and her own grandmother, Rahese, that had ceased abruptly whenever he had entered the room. It had also struck him as odd that Miramie's husband, Astania, never talked about her; perhaps his memories were too painful.

Memories; so powerful yet so fragile. Rohese was reminded of her own recent foray into them and how she too had recalled hushed conversations during her childhood.

Her grandfather's letter had gone on to explain how fond Sahese was of the dogwood blossom pendant he had given Rohese during her last visit and how he understood why she had gifted it to Elaejia. He had closed by asking after Aendir and requesting that they both visit again soon.

Rohese folded the letter and slipped it into her journal. Annotating the page with the day's date, she added a few lines:

"Dogwood.  A tree of renewal and beginnings.
It begins with me finding Miramie’s dogwood tree."

The Dogwood Tree

[Ta'Illistim, Weyr Var]
Curving off from the main var is a tree-lined pathway, which leads to an ornate ivory gate.  The dogwoods at the corners of the intersection of var and path are in flower with large white blossoms, which stick out from the spindly branches, growing in such profusion that they nearly obscure them altogether.

A tapered deep green leaf lazily drifts in on a soft breeze and settles to the ground.

You glance down.
You glance at Elaejia.
Elaejia gazes thoughtfully at a tapered deep green leaf.
You pick up a tapered deep green leaf.
You gaze thoughtfully at your deep green leaf.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "So it seems my great-great grandfather is happy we're back today."
You brush your fingers lightly against your deep green leaf.
You smile quietly to yourself.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "It's a good sign."
Elaejia nods in agreement to you.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "So much so that it greeted you even before we truly arrived."
You nod enthusiastically!
You put a tapered deep green leaf in your leather bag.
You glance at a tree-lined pathway and slowly exhale.

WANDERING THE GROUNDS

[Veythorne Manor, Gardens]
A small hill ascends to the southwest, and growing atop it is a small dogwood tree -- its arcing branches swept with immaculate pale pink leaves that flutter like feathered wings with each passing breeze.  Dark violet windflowers sprout along the ground, their numerous petals glimmering with a faint velvety sheen.  Pale crimson leaves litter the ground, mere droplets of color upon a carpet of healthy green.
Obvious paths: north, east, south

You let out a long, contemplative breath.
Elaejia gazes thoughtfully at a small dogwood tree.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia murmurs, "The dogwood is a curious tree."
You nod in agreement at Elaejia.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "Look at the beautiful leaves."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "Even in age, they seldom grow large."
You glance around the area.
Elaejia nods to you.

The dogwood tree rocks back and forth slowly, its pale pink leaves rustling back and forth like gossamer wings.

You gaze thoughtfully at a small dogwood tree.
You smile.
Speaking in Elven, you reflectively say, "So pretty."
Elaejia nods in agreement to you.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I've seen a picture of Miramie."
You smile at Elaejia.
Speaking interestedly in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "Indeed?"
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "And I think I know why her father keeps leaving me leaves."
You remove a tapered deep green leaf from in your leather bag.
Elaejia cocks her head at you.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Apparently I look just like her."
You wrinkle your nose.

Butterflies flit about the tree and the dark violet windflowers, their tiny wings adding delicate swaths of vivid color to the surroundings.

Elaejia smiles quietly to herself.
Speaking in Elven, you sadly say, "She died so young."
You gaze with interest at a small dogwood tree.

The dogwood tree rocks back and forth slowly, its pale pink leaves rustling back and forth like gossamer wings.

Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "He must have been heartbroken."
Speaking softly in Elven to you, Elaejia agrees, "That must have been wistful for the sycamore's spirit."
You agree with Elaejia.

A few of the pale crimson leaves upon the ground are picked up by an errant current of wind, swirling about in a whirling dance before settling to the ground once more.

Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "Do you know much else of her?"
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "So I'm hoping between them, we can find some answers.  Perhaps even why she did die."
You shake your head.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "Only that she was their only daughter."
You bite your lip.

The dogwood tree sways back and forth as a current of wind whips through the area, and a few of its feathery leaves flutter to the ground.

Elaejia frowns.

Butterflies flit about the tree and the dark violet windflowers, their tiny wings adding delicate swaths of vivid color to the surroundings.

Elaejia gazes thoughtfully at a feathery pale pink leaf.

Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "And whatever secret my family is keeping, I think she is the key."
You gasp.
You pick up a feathery pale pink leaf.
Speaking softly in Elven to a small dogwood tree, you say, "Thank you."
You hold your pale pink leaf close to your body.

The dogwood tree rocks back and forth slowly, its pale pink leaves rustling back and forth like gossamer wings.

Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "This is auspicious."
You smile.
Elaejia smiles at you.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "I am truly glad this journey has been so marked with good fortune."
You smile at Elaejia.
Speaking affectionately in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I couldn't do this without you."
Elaejia smiles quietly to herself.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "Alright."
You smile.
Elaejia takes a deep breath.
Elaejia grabs a wavy-bladed ritual dagger of black stone and bone from inside her leather ritual satchel.
(Rohese takes a few tentative steps towards the dogwood tree.  A zephyr of pale pink leaves rise into the air to swirl around her with soft whispered words of welcome before settling down on the ground again.)
You smile quietly to yourself.
Elaejia holds her ritual dagger out in front of her, and as she whispers quietly, she brings her dagger down to the ground, dragging it through the dirt to create a large ritual circle.
Elaejia tosses a wavy-bladed ritual dagger of black stone and bone inside her leather ritual satchel.
You glance down.
You also see a large ritual circle drawn in the dirt.
Speaking quietly in Elven to you, Elaejia reminds, "It is time to center your awareness."
You nod slowly.
You take a deep breath.
You slowly and deliberately empty your filled lungs.
Carefully stepping over the dirt, you enter a large ritual circle drawn in the dirt and kneel down, head bowed, eyes downcast.
Elaejia kneels down.
You reach out and touch a small dogwood tree.
Speaking quietly in Elven to a small dogwood tree, you introduce, "Hello Miramie, I am Rohese, your great-granddaughter."
Elaejia closes her eyes for a moment.
Speaking reflectively in Elven to a small dogwood tree, you continue, "I think you've been waiting for me."
You smile quietly to yourself.
You lower your gaze.
You close your eyes for a moment.
Elaejia grabs a large bronze tobacco jar from inside her leather ritual satchel.
Elaejia screws off the lid of her bronze tobacco jar.
(Rohese runs the pale pink leaf gently through her fingers a few times as she tries to calm her thoughts.)
(Elaejia pinches some tobacco from her jar and sprinkles it at the base of the tree.)
Elaejia screws the lid of her bronze tobacco jar back on.
Elaejia tosses a large bronze tobacco jar inside her leather ritual satchel.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I think my offering has been decided for me today."
You carefully place a tapered deep green leaf on the ground.
Speaking curiously in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "Oh?"
Elaejia nods understandingly.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "Her father wishes to join us."
You smile.
You reach out and touch a tapered deep green leaf.
You nod faintly.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia approvingly murmurs, "I think you are quite right."
You glance up.
You gaze thoughtfully at a small dogwood tree.

The dogwood tree rocks back and forth slowly, its pale pink leaves rustling back and forth like gossamer wings.

(Elaejia nods encouragingly to you, and leans forward to place her hands upon the ground.)
You lean forward.
(Rohese rests her hands at the base of the tree, one over the green leaf, the other holding the pink leaf alongside.)
Elaejia leans over and whispers, "I think you need only open yourself, when you are ready.  She knows what she will say."
You nod slightly at Elaejia.
You let out a long, contemplative breath.
Speaking tentatively in Elven to a small dogwood tree, you begin, "Miramie ..."
Speaking gently in Elven to a small dogwood tree, you inquire, "I am seeking answers to my family's heritage and, in particular, any knowledge you may have about my grandmother's secret - your daughter?"

The dogwood tree sways back and forth as a current of wind whips through the area, and a few of its feathery leaves flutter to the ground.

Speaking softly in Elven to a small dogwood tree, you correct, "Our secret."
You sigh.
Speaking fretfully in Elven to a small dogwood tree, you urge, "Please, can you guide me and help me to find out what is happening to me?"

Sparks spill from the shadows, spiraling about in the air before coalescing into a floating orb of silver flame.

Flickering tongues of fire erupt from the surface of a floating orb of silver flame as its light steadies.

(Elaejia hums in a low, droning tone reminiscent of the thrum of bees, and channels mana into the earth at the base of the dogwood.)
You blink.
Elaejia holds her breath.
You gaze thoughtfully at a floating orb of silver flame.
(Rohese tentatively reaches out to cup the flame in her hand, allowing its silvery glow to envelop her.  A gentle breeze stirs her hair, causing it to shimmer with an ethereal light.  Faint text begins to emerge on the back of her hand but the words move too quickly to be legible.)

A feathery pale pink leaf lazily drifts in on a soft breeze and settles to the ground.

You glance at a feathery pale pink leaf.

A floating orb of silver flame darts about through the air, giving a final wobble before shooting north!

A feathery pale pink leaf is suddenly caught up in an errant breeze and swirls east.

You glance north.
Elaejia glances east.
Elaejia gives a sidelong glance at you.
You bite your lip.
Speaking in Elven, you softly ask, "Did you see it too?"
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "The flame?"
You let out a sigh of relief.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I wasn't imagining it then."
Speaking softly in Elven to a small dogwood tree, you ask, "Where should we look, what are we missing?"
You close your eyes for a moment.

This vision strikes you - A view of Miramie in a candlelit drawing room with facing mirrors so she is seen in infinite reflections...Her myriad reflections are each doing different things - studying a tome, weaving a chain of cords, polishing a lens, lighting a candle  in each reflection, she is lit in a shaft of moonlight.

Speaking hesitantly in Elven to Elaejia, you exclaim, "I think she's trying to tell me something!"

A few of the pale crimson leaves upon the ground are picked up by an errant current of wind, swirling about in a whirling dance before settling to the ground once more.

Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I see her in the mirror ... lots of mirrors."
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "Guess it seems there is something to find... northeastward.. ?"
You nod slowly.
Speaking in Elven, you softly exclaim, "I think so!"
Elaejia gazes thoughtfully at a small dogwood tree.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I can see a book and ribbons ..."
You shake your head.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "No, not ribbons."
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "String."
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process.
Elaejia gazes with interest at you.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "Candles."
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "So many candles."
You bite your lip.
Speaking carefully in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "Do these things mean anything to you?"
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "She's so pretty but she looks so sad."
You bite your lip.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I think she's studying something and it's troubling her."

The dogwood tree rocks back and forth slowly, its pale pink leaves rustling back and forth like gossamer wings.

(Rohese starts as a movement in the undergrowth catches her attention.  A squirrel scampers across the grass towards her and sits up on its hind legs.  Dropping a small acorn at her feet, it scurries away.)
You glance down.
You pick up a small acorn.
You gaze thoughtfully at your small acorn.
Speaking wryly in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "You have more in common than your visages, it seems."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I think Miramie is the key."
You nod in agreement at Elaejia.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you ask, "An oak tree?"
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I wonder ..."
You bite your lip.
Elaejia looks thoughtfully at you.
Speaking softly in Elven to yourself, you say, "Silver haired."
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "Perhaps Wilver was trying to tell me something too."
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "About your grandmother's hair?"
Elaejia furrows her brow.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "And that silver flame."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia quietly says, "The flame was quite curious."
Speaking frustratedly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I'm more confused than ever."
(Elaejia reaches a hand out, motioning at your hands.)
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "May I see.. Your hands?"
You nod slightly.
You put a feathery pale pink leaf in your leather bag.
You put a small acorn in your leather bag.
Speaking quietly in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "Did you note the script, in the silver light?"
(Rohese reaches out with her hands to place them gently into Elaejia's.)
You nod slowly.
Elaejia surveys her surroundings before looking disappointed.
Elaejia lowers her gaze.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "It was moving so fast that I couldn't read it though."
You sigh.
(Elaejia holds your hands in cool fingers, studying them closely, turning them over and back.)
You bite your lip.
Elaejia frowns.
(Rohese relaxes her hands in Elaejia's grasp and faint lines of text writhe beneath the surface of her pale skin.)
Elaejia breathes in slightly.
Elaejia squints.
You bite your lip.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia breathes, "There.. just there."
You nod.
Elaejia narrows her eyes.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "If only it would settle so I could read it."
(Elaejia traces an invisible line across the back of your hand with a finger, but shakes her head in frustration.)
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "Indeed. I can't make it out at all."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia murmurs, "In form it looks Elven.. but it is illegible."
(Rohese turns her hands over to expose her palms.  Odd words bubble to the surface; some reversed, some overlapping and others quite bold.)
You act puzzled.
Elaejia cocks her head.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you explain, "It's the same as the writing I found in my grandmother's book."
Elaejia nods slowly.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I couldn't understand that either."
You shake your head.
You glance at a small dogwood tree.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I wonder if that was the book Miramie was reading too."

The dogwood tree rocks back and forth slowly, its pale pink leaves rustling back and forth like gossamer wings.

Speaking in Elven, Elaejia hazards, "If you place your hand upon the tree, perhaps?"
You reach out and touch a small dogwood tree.
Elaejia leans forward.
(Rohese presses her hand hard against the rough surface of the dogwood tree.  Using her fingertips, she adds more pressure as if pleading for the tree to respond.)
You give a sigh of frustration.
Elaejia shakes her head.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I wonder ..."
You glance north.
Elaejia nods slightly to you.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia murmurs, "There is certainly some path you are required to tread."
Elaejia stands up.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you muse, "Miramie was reading by candlelight ... I may need to as well."
Elaejia ponders.
Speaking in Elven, you exasperatedly say, "But I've done that before."
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I read by candlelight all the time."
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process.
Elaejia chuckles to herself.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia wryly says, "Naturally."
You giggle softly.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "There has to be something I'm missing."
You remove a small acorn from in your leather bag.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "It seems you've an appointment with an oak tree."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I think there must be an oak tree somewhere that has the answer."
You smile at Elaejia.
Speaking appreciatively in Elven to a small dogwood tree, you say, "Thank you."
Closing her eyes, Elaejia lowers her forehead to a small dogwood tree in a reverent gesture.
You murmur some prayers under your breath.
You reach out and touch a small dogwood tree.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Thank you too."
Speaking quietly in Elven to a small dogwood tree, Elaejia echoes, "We are grateful for the energy you expended this day."
Elaejia smiles a touch awkwardly.
Speaking softly in Elven to a small dogwood tree, you promise, "I will come back, you won't be forgotten."
You smile.
You stand back up.
You dust off your velvet cotehardie.
You kiss Elaejia on the cheek.
Elaejia breathes in slightly.
Elaejia smiles at you.
You smile.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I expect there are lots of oak trees in this garden too."
You wrinkle your nose.

The dogwood tree rocks back and forth slowly, its pale pink leaves rustling back and forth like gossamer wings.

Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I'll take a walk in the morning and see if anything reaches out."
You gaze fondly at your surroundings.
Elaejia nods slowly to you.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I don't know about you but I need some tea."
You smile at Elaejia.

Oak

"The mighty oak is considered the most powerful and sacred of trees. It holds the true alignment of balance, purpose and strength."

Rohese traced an annotated illustration of an oak tree with her finger and resumed reading. She wanted to learn as much as she could before venturing out in search of such a tree. Elaejia had sent word that she was free that afternoon so the search for the truth could resume.

She reached for the genealogical notes she had made on her great-grandfather, Astania Anuviel. Born in Ta'Illistim in 3342, he had apparently fallen in love with Miramie at first sight and they had married in the year 3679. Rohese's grandfather had spoken about the strength Astania had shown after the unfortunate death of Miramie in 3811 and how his life had been given new purpose in bringing up their daughter, Sahese, alone. Astania had doted over her and it had taken all of Earion's persuasive skills to get his permission for he and Sahese to wed.

It made sense to try and find his memorial tree after the visit to Miramie’s had yielded an acorn. As tenuous as it seemed, Rohese was sure it was a message and everything pointed towards an oak tree. She had a good idea where to start.

Picking up the acorn - a little wrinkled in places but still whole - she slipped it into her bag and reached for the smooth flat pebble that it had been sitting on. She had been using it as a paperweight on her desk for over a year, still unsure of the reason why her grandfather had sent it to her via his familiar. Worn smooth, the pale grey pebble sat comfortably in the palm of the hand. Roughly ovoid in shape, it featured a small natural hole near the edge, just big enough to look through. For no particular reason, other than she had no idea what else to do with it, she dropped it into her bag along with the acorn and gathered her notes together.

Now she just needed to find something to offer to the tree.

The Oak Tree

Speaking in Elven, Elaejia asks, "Indeed -- have you made any progress since last summer on discovering anything on your own?"
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Only that I still have this ..."
You remove a small acorn from in your leather bag.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "And I believe we need to find the tree from which this dropped."
Elaejia looks thoughtfully at you.
Elaejia nods in agreement to you.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I have had so little time to search but I did happen to notice an oak tree on a recent walk that I think we can start with."
You smile at Elaejia.
Speaking in Elven, you softly ask, "If you'd be willing to accompany me?"
You incline your head.
You gaze thoughtfully at your small acorn.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia pleasantly says, "Of course."

[A WALK TO VEYTHORNE MANOR]

[Veythorne Manor, Walkway - 13413]
Creeping vines of ivy twine along the gaps in the cobblestones underfoot, trailing towards the base of a large, gnarled oak tree upon the crest of a small, verdant green hill.  Pale ivory blossoms line the path, their thin petals casting a soft, bluish light over the grass as sunlight passes through them.

Speaking in Elven, you softly ask, "A fine specimen, don't you think?"
Rohese smiles as the trill of lively birdsong floats down from the nearby oak.  Across the garden, the song is echoed by another, matching the melody note for note.  The pair serenades one another back and forth across the garden, the chorus continuing until the first begins an alternate tune and the echoing begins anew.
You gaze with interest at your surroundings.
Speaking pensively in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I think this might be the right place."
You gaze thoughtfully at your small acorn.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia curiously asks, "And you believe this may be the oak linked to your grandmother?"
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Let me see ..."
(Rohese lifts her gaze to the verdant crown of the large oak tree.  Stepping into the shadow of its leaf-laden branches, she reaches out to rest both hands on the rough bark.)
You close your eyes for a moment.
Elaejia scans her surroundings with the alertness of a seasoned scout.
Speaking in Elven, you tentatively begin, "I believe you might have been waiting for me."
Speaking in Elven, you softly apologize, "I am sorry it has taken me so long to come but much has happened since Elaejia and I spent time at Miramie's tree and I was left this."
For the briefest of moments, your gaze alights on the acorn.
Elaejia smiles quietly to herself.
(Rohese cradles the small acorn in her palm and murmurs an elven prayer of remembrance.  As if in response, a gentle breeze stirs the foliage overhead, bringing with it the sharp scent of fresh greenery blended with an earthy, nutty aroma.  The sound of birdsong fades away and an eerie stillness settles around you.)
You let out a long, contemplative breath.
Elaejia grabs a large bronze tobacco jar from inside her leather ritual satchel.
Elaejia screws off the lid of her bronze tobacco jar.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you confirm, "It's the right place, it brings back so many memories."
You smile.
Elaejia smiles at you.
Speaking wistfully in Elven to Elaejia, you explain, "I am reminded of summers spent with my family; walks in the woods and picnics in an oak grove."
You hold your small acorn close to your body.
(Rohese gazes intently at the oak tree.)
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia quietly says, "Your connection to their spirits has always been strong, I am not surprised these recollections come to you so easily now."
You smile at Elaejia.
Elaejia picks idly at a large bronze tobacco jar.
You let out a long, contemplative breath.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia lightly asks, "Did you remember to bring your offerings?"
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I did."
You nod.
You remove some essence of water from in your leather bag.
You smile.
Elaejia gazes with interest at her surroundings.
Elaejia bites her lip.
You incline your head.
Elaejia kneels down.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I have brought the seed and the nutrients with which to give life to it."
You glance between some essence of water and a small acorn.
(Elaejia takes a small handful of tobacco from her jar and sprinkles it at the base of the oak with a murmured offer of thanks.)
Elaejia screws the lid of her bronze tobacco jar back on.
Elaejia tosses a large bronze tobacco jar inside her leather ritual satchel.
(Rohese follows Elaejia's lead and steps closer to the tree.)
You kneel down.
You carefully place a small acorn on the ground.
You carefully place some essence of water on the ground.
(Rohese rests a hand over the small acorn and murmurs a prayer of thanks.)
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia quietly says, "The garden here is even more peaceful than the other groves we've visited."
Elaejia tilts her head up.
You smile.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "It's especially quiet today."
You glance around the area.
Speaking quietly in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "Do you know what you will ask today?"
Speaking tentatively in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I think so."
You nod slowly.
You take a deep breath.
You close your eyes for a moment.
Speaking in Elven, you calmly say, "I'm ready."
You smile.
(Rohese turns towards the oak tree.)
Elaejia inclines her head.
Speaking in Elven, you gently say, "I know how hard it is to lose someone you love." Gazing up at the leaves again, she adds an insistent tone to her voice.  "I'm here to learn more of Miramie and your daughter, Sahese, if you are willing to tell me."
You glance up.
(Rohese brushes the heavily-ridged surface of the tree trunk with her fingers, pausing to trace a few distinctive patterns within the bark.  Her curiosity piqued, she leans closer to examine the silvery scars.)
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process.
(Elaejia leans forward and places her palms upon the ground at the base of the oak, humming faintly and channeling mana into its roots.)
Sparks spill from the shadows, spiraling about in the air before coalescing into a floating orb of silver flame.
Wobbling lazily, a floating orb of silver flame dims about its edges, although the core remains bright.
You gasp.
Elaejia breathes almost without making a sound.
(Rohese tentatively reaches out to cup the flame in her hand.  Bright silvery light bursts all around her in a protective cocoon of arcane energy and reveals the clear outline of dendroglyphs in the bark of the oak tree.  The silvery gleam illuminates a crescent moon above an elven runic symbol.)
The core of a dimly radiant floating orb of silver flame brightens as it soars higher into the air.
Speaking in Elven, you softly ask, "This symbol is unfamiliar to me. Do you recognise it?"
You peer quizzically at Elaejia.
(Elaejia stares at the tree, brow furrowed.)
Elaejia shakes her head.
The core of a brightly luminous floating orb of silver flame brightens as it soars higher into the air.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia quietly says, "The moon crescent is interesting though."
You agree with Elaejia.
Elaejia pauses and studies a brightly luminous floating orb of silver flame with thoughtful consideration, moving to observe it from multiple angles.
Speaking in Elven, you softly speculate, "I'm wondering if it means we need to read it by moonlight?"
A brightly luminous floating orb of silver flame bobs through the air with a sound like a crackling fireplace.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia slowly agrees, "The orb does.. resemble a moon as well."
Speaking in Elven, you distantly say, "I wonder…"
You rummage through a dual-strapped leather bag.
You remove a smooth flat pebble with an off-center hole from in your leather bag.
You turn your flat pebble over and over in your hands.
You gaze thoughtfully at your flat pebble.
(Rohese hesitantly lifts the flat pebble to her eye, her embarrassment evident by her flushed cheeks and nervous giggle.  Just as she peers through the hole, she gasps in astonishment and almost drops it.)
Elaejia nods slowly to you.
Motes of indigo light wash through the center of the floating silver flame, multiplying and spiraling outward until they have completely overwhelmed its hue with their own.
Speaking in Elven, you uncertainly read, "Beloved."
You nod eagerly.
Speaking in Elven, you softly repeat, "It says, "Beloved!"”
You gaze thoughtfully at your flat pebble.
Your face lights up with joy.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia breathes, "The spirit's gift."
You squeal.
The core of a floating orb of indigo flame brightens as it soars higher into the air.
Elaejia laughs softly, trying to hide her amusement.
Speaking tentatively in Elven to Elaejia, you ask, "Do you think there might be dendroglyphs on the dogwood tree?"
You rub the surface of your flat pebble, taking solace in its simple design.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "I think that is quite likely indeed."
A brightly luminous floating orb of indigo flame floats overhead, its bulk wan against the sun's radiance.
(Rohese returns her attention to the oak tree, resting her hands back down on the damp earth over its roots.)
(Elaejia gazes at the runes curiously.)
Speaking in Elven, you gratefully ask, "I understand.  Do you have anything else you wish to tell me?"
You glance up.
Motes of red light wash through the center of the floating indigo flame, multiplying and spiraling outward until they have completely overwhelmed its hue with their own.

A vision of Sahese making a final notation into a pavonated book and then murmuring a low incantation as she wipes an opal-ringed hand across the page. The text vanishes, and she picks up a new quill, commencing to fill the page again.

You bite your lip.
Speaking tentatively in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I see ... my grandmother."
Elaejia blinks at you.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you continue, "She's writing in a book.  My book!"
You close your eyes for a moment.
Wobbling lazily, a floating orb of red flame dims about its edges, although the core remains bright.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia urges, "What does it say?"
Elaejia leans forward.
(Rohese presses her hands into the grass, her fingers sinking into the earth as she concentrates on the vision forming in her mind.)
Speaking frustratedly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I can't read it, it vanished before I could see it."
You sigh.

A blizzard of cottonwood catkins obscures the view of Sahese and the book.

The flame wobbles sullenly before going out in a tiny explosion of light.
You gasp.
Elaejia flinches.
Elaejia slowly empties her lungs.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you exclaim, "The cottonwood tree!"
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia confusedly asks, "The what?"
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Where I used to play with my sister as a child."
You bite your lip.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "It's all happening so fast, I can't make anything of it."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia understandingly asks, "You saw it?"
You vigorously shake your head.
You sigh.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I saw the catkins that used to feel like snow."
You wrinkle your nose.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I wonder what it can mean."
You remove a pavonated leather-bound book from in your dark cerulean shrug.
For the briefest of moments, your gaze alights on the book.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "She was writing in this book and it ... vanished."
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process.
(Elaejia glances at the oak tree and back at the book in your hand.)
You glance up.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia hazards, "Perhaps..."
You bite your lip.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you ask, "What are you thinking?"
You brush your fingers lightly against your leather-bound book.
(Elaejia motions to the flat stone in your hand.)
You offer your flat pebble to Elaejia.
You smile at Elaejia.
Elaejia gives a short little hum of surprise.
You raise an eyebrow in Elaejia's direction.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "Oh no-- I dare not take the spirit's gift in my hand."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you urge, "Do it."
You nod at Elaejia.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia asks, "But perhaps…it revealed something from the tree.  Why not the book?"
Elaejia slowly empties her lungs.
Elaejia has accepted your offer and is now holding a smooth flat pebble with an off-center hole.
You nod encouragingly.
You offer your leather-bound book to Elaejia.
You smile at Elaejia.
Elaejia furrows her brow.
Elaejia has accepted your offer and is now holding a pavonated leather-bound book.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "See if you can see anything."
Elaejia frowns at a pavonated leather-bound book.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "At least then we'll know if it's only meant for me."
Elaejia just opened a pavonated leather-bound book.
Elaejia holds her breath.
You begin to watch Elaejia intently out of the corner of your eyes, while trying not to be too obvious about it.
(Elaejia holds the stone up to her left eye and peers down at the open page for a moment, but finally shakes her head.)
You slowly and deliberately empty your filled lungs.
Speaking in Elven, you disappointedly ask, "Nothing?"
(Elaejia turns to look at the oak in a similar manner, then shakes her head once more.)
You snap your fingers disappointedly.  Rats!
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "It was worth a try."
Elaejia smiles at you.
You smile at Elaejia.
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "And we have learnt something as you said."
Elaejia offers you a smooth flat pebble with an off-center hole.  
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "So, I'm guessing grandmother meant for only me to read it."
You accept Elaejia's offer and are now holding a smooth flat pebble with an off-center hole.
You smile at Elaejia.
Elaejia nods in agreement to you.
Elaejia offers you a pavonated leather-bound book.  
You put a smooth flat pebble with an off-center hole in your leather bag.
You accept Elaejia's offer and are now holding a pavonated leather-bound book.
You hold your leather-bound book close to your body.
(Rohese returns her attention to the oak tree, gazing into its dark green canopy.)
Speaking in Elven, you softly mouth, "Thank you."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I guess we'll have to come back at night and spend some time at the dogwood tree."
(Elaejia lowers her head reverently to the oak tree, leaning forward once more to channel mana into the ground.)
You put a pavonated leather-bound book in your dark cerulean shrug.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia curiously asks, "And what of the cottonwood?"
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "We should definitely visit that too."
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I'm assuming it's still there, it's been a while since I last played there."
You wrinkle your nose.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia ponders, "It is curious that these spirits are so engaged with the night."
You nod in agreement at Elaejia.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia teases, "Perhaps they will make a night owl of you yet."
You laugh softly, trying to hide your amusement.
Speaking playfully in Elven to Elaejia, you echo, "Perhaps."
You wrinkle your nose.
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "The moon is rather beautiful to behold, after all."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "There is a reason they feature in poetry so often.. Even the humans recognize their beauty."
You nod faintly.
Elaejia surreptitiously glances at you.
You glance up.
Elaejia smiles quietly to herself.
You smile quietly to yourself.
You clear your throat.
Speaking appreciatively in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Thank you so much for this."
Elaejia smiles at you.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "It means the world to me that you're here."
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "I am honored you asked for my help, truly."
(Rohese returns her gaze to the silvery scars in the bark of the oak tree.  Tracing them with her fingers, she nods slowly and repeats her gratitude to the spirits within.)
You smile at Elaejia.
You stand back up.
You dust off your blue velvet gown.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia carefully says, "This is...this seems as though it will be something quite personal.  Your forebears took pains to lead you on a specific journey."
You nod slowly.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "And I sense we're getting close to answers."
You glance around the area.
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "The time alone to bond to these spirits enough.. It is a wonder, truly."
(Rohese lifts her hand up and watches as the faint lines of text ripple beneath her pale skin.)
You smile at Elaejia.
Elaejia stands up.
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I should probably start documenting my experiences too."
You remove a feathery pale pink leaf from in your leather bag.
You gaze thoughtfully at your pale pink leaf.
Speaking in Elven, you softly exclaim, "I would never have thought that leaves could convey so much meaning!"
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia agrees, "Indeed.  I suspect in hindsight some elements may be instructive that now seem confounding."
You brush your fingers lightly against your pale pink leaf.
You nod at Elaejia.
Speaking softly in Elven to your pale pink leaf, you say, "We have some work to do."
You let out a long, contemplative breath.

Willow

"The willow is known for being the tree most associated with the moon, water, and wisdom. It is the tree of enchantment and communing with her during a full moon can increase the potency of insights to be gained. Her energy puts us in touch with our feelings and deep emotions, and it is the ability of the willow to help us to express them. Approached with respect, willow is a wonderful teacher and will whisper to us if we are still and willing to listen."

A lilac-scented breeze lifted the thin green willow leaf from her desk, causing it to drift lazily to the floor. Rohese bent down to retrieve it and placed it back on top of the letter she had been reading. She had spent the last few days going through a stack of old documents and had stumbled across some correspondence that had given her pause for thought. She had always believed that her father, Tymian Bayvel, had been laid to rest in the family mausoleum when he died in 5103; she recalled leaving a mournbloom there all those years ago. Apparently, that was not the case and, while she was away from home, those managing the Bayvel affairs had followed different instructions. Instead, her father's ashes had been scattered beneath a willow tree in the Veythorne Gardens, in keeping with his recent forebear's private wishes.

Reaching for one of the open books left to the side, she continued to read about the lore of the willow.

"The willow is also known as a tree of dreaming and inspiration. It is sacred to poets, for the sound of the wind through the willow is said to have a potent influence on the mind. There is a darker side, however, for it is associated with grief and death. Elven folklore advises that to plant a young willow and watch it grow, would ease the passage of your soul at death. It is believed that the spirit of the dead will rise up into the sapling, which will grow and retain the essence of the departed one."

Rohese was reminded of her recent commune with an ancient willow in Vornavis and the three leaves gifted to her that night; one of which now lay on her desk, the other two having been gifted to her poet. That particular willow had imparted its wisdom beneath the full Liabo moon but she was still unsure what it had all meant.

The drapes at the open window lifted on another errant breeze bringing with it whisper...her name, only this time it wasn't her beloved’s familiar voice, it was something else. Another willow was calling to her and she needed to find out why. Could her father have something to say to her?

The Willow Tree (Part 1)

[Ta'Illistim Green - 24555] 
At the southern end of the green, the expanse of carefully manicured lawn is broken up by a low pool, set flush to the ground and surrounded with a ring of cut stone socles.  Beyond the statuary, the grass continues until hitting a low silver fence.  You also see a ruby-crested greater bearded vulture that is flying around, a wayward wood spirit that is flying around, some cushioned benches, a sterling silver serving cart with some stuff on it and a large crystal cart with some stuff on it. 
Also here: Lady Elaejia 

You bite your lip. 
(Elaejia visibly collects herself.) 
Elaejia smiles at you. 
You smile at Elaejia. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you ask, "I was hoping you might take a walk with me this afternoon?" 
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia replies, "A walk is always appreciated." 
You softly say, "It's a lovely afternoon too." 
Speaking carefully to Elaejia, you explain, "I've recently come into some information that I think might help us ... me." 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "As I inferred in my letter." 
You smile at Elaejia. 
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "It was curious to me that you did not have that knowledge until so recently." 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "It never occurred to me to even look." 
You slowly and deliberately empty your filled lungs. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "But something has been happening that prompted me to ask the question." 
Elaejia nods understandingly to you. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "I'll explain on the way to the Gardens." 

WALKING TO THE VEYTHORNE GARDENS 

[Veythorne Manor, Gates - 13366] 
Pale crimson magnolia trees flank the ivory cobblestones, their long, tapered leaves shivering with a multitude of shadowed hues with every faint breeze.  A massive manor towers above the landscape a short distance to the north, while pleasant floral scents ride on the air.  Through the veritable forest of trees stretching out toward the east and west, one can glimpse the peaked roofs of other buildings. 

You let out a long, contemplative breath. 
You softly reveal, "I can hear a willow whispering to me but I can't make out what it's saying.  It's as if ... it's calling to me." 

The magnolia trees waver in unison as a soft draft of wind passes by, and swirls of leaves race off on the current. 

You glance around the area. 
Elaejia looks thoughtfully at you. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "I know there are willows in this garden so it seemed a good place to start." 
You bite your lip. 

A few colorful butterflies chase one another across the manor's gated courtyard, then disappear into the distance. 

Speaking softly to Elaejia, you posit, "I believe it might be the willow where my father's ashes were scattered." 
Speaking sadly to Elaejia, you explain, "He died when I was away from home for some time and I was unaware that his ashes had even been scattered." 
Elaejia frowns. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "But I stumbled across a letter recently that mentioned it." 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia disapprovingly says, "An unforgivable oversight for your estate's executors not to mention it." 
You agree with Elaejia. 

A few songbirds trill gently as they soar overhead. 

Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "I suspect it was because there was no one in the Bayvel house at the time to see to such matters." 
You softly say, "It was all shut up at the time of his death until I returned." 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia thoughtfully muses, "Willow spirits are of course well known to be rather talkative." 
 
A small songbird trills a delicate melody within the wavering boughs of one of the magnolia trees, then swoops off and into the sky. 
 
You softly say, "The house records were in some disorder." 
You agree with Elaejia. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "And I believe even more so during a full moon." 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia asks, "Do you recall if your father was connected to them in any way?" 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you add, "It was a full moon last night." 
Elaejia nods in agreement to you. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "My father was a fisherman, his favourite spot was on the lake, here in the gardens beneath the willows." 
You smile at Elaejia. 
Elaejia nods understandingly. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "It makes perfect sense so I am hoping I am right." 
You softly say, "Let's go and see if we can find it." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
You pause in place for a moment, trying to decide which way to go. 
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "Your instincts have guided you well so far, we have no reason to doubt you now." 

[Veythorne Manor, Walkway - 13409] 
A small stone building, wrought with a dark blue latticework, stands to the western side of the cobblestoned path, its arched windows and blue-tiled roof fashioned with meticulous care.  A particularly large willow spreads its leafy bough over the house, casting patches of deep verdant grass in both light and shadow. 

(Rohese ponders the willow near the house and takes a step towards it.) 
Elaejia gazes with interest at her surroundings. 
You shake your head. 
You softly say, "It's not this one, I can barely hear the whispering." 

[Veythorne Manor, Walkway - 13406] 
A large black willow stands within the center of the walkway, the cobblestoned path curving around each side of the tree in order to accommodate its girth.  Trails of thin leaf-swept vines hang low to the ground, each swaying rhythmically as the wind whistles past.  Long reeds waver in unison along the far western bank of the lake, providing a soft staccato beat that subtly meanders through the area.  You also see a small wrought iron gate. 
 
Elaejia tilts her head up. 
(Rohese walks around the willow in the center of the walkway and reaches out to touch the leaf-swept vines.) 
You sigh. 
You shake your head. 
You disappointedly say, "Nothing." 
You listen, but don't hear anything unusual. 

[Veythorne Manor, Dock - 13401] 
The pleasant sound of water sloshing against the wooden beams of a small dock echoes throughout the area, and the walkway branches up a bit to accommodate the short little pier that extends into the lake.  Clusters of water-lilies float along the edge of the water and underneath the dock, their subtle fragrance wreathing the area.  A single black willow graces the edge of the shore, its long vines whispering soft, indecipherable phrases as they brush against one another quietly. 
 
(Rohese carefully steps down towards the shore to examine the black willow.) 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Elaejia inclines her ear, listening intently. 
You glance down. 
You gaze thoughtfully at your ring footflower sandals. 

A turtle pokes its pointed head up above the surface of the water, glances around a bit, then sinks into the depths once more. 

You softly exclaim, "It's all muddy!" 
Elaejia chuckles to herself. 
You sigh. 
You softly say, "Still nothing." 
You softly say, "Perhaps I am wrong, after all." 
You walk toward Elaejia. 
You dust off your lamb's wool robes. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia wryly says, "Knowing we were seeking a willow, we ought to have brought a blanket." 
You giggle softly. 
You agree with Elaejia. 
Elaejia gazes with interest at her surroundings. 
You softly say, "I wonder." 
You thoughtfully tap a finger against your lips. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "There are quite a few willows in this garden, I believe." 
You nod. 
You softly say, "My thoughts exactly." 
You softly say, "And less muddy." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
You glance around the area. 
 
[Veythorne Manor, Gardens - 13415] 
Tendrils of trumpetvine twine about the arcing designs of the gates to the north, the verdant creepers weaving a complex veil of pure green dotted with flame-red blossoms.  The sagging bough of a black willow hangs over the gate, its own whip-like vines intertwined with the trumpet-shaped flowers.  A tiny stream winds its way along and through the path, its trickling cadence mingling with the soft rustles of the leaves overhead. 
 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
(Rohese reaches out to run her fingers through the whip-like vines hanging from the sagging black willow.) 
You beam! 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you confirm, "This is the one.  I can hear it whispering to me." 
You clap your hands together in delight! 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you ask, "Can you hear it?" 
You incline your head. 
Speaking quietly in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "This one has some tales of its own to tell, it seems," 
(Elaejia nods toward the silvery scars along the tree's bark.) 
Elaejia turns an ear toward a black willow. 
You let out a little squeal of delight. 
You gaze fondly at a black willow. 
Elaejia closes her eyes for a moment. 
You smile quietly to yourself. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia whispers aloud, "Yes, I do hear its susurrus." 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "I can't make out what it's whispering though." 
You shake your head. 
Elaejia gazes with interest at her surroundings. 
Speaking tentatively to Elaejia, you suggest, "Do you think we should try and commune with it?" 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "It would help open your ears to its words, certainly." 
You smile at Elaejia. 
You take a few steps toward a black willow. 
You kneel down. 
You attend to your lamb's wool robes, making the robes as presentable as possible. 
Elaejia takes a deep breath. 
Speaking softly to yourself, you remind, "I must centre myself and clear my thoughts." 
You close your eyes for a moment. 
You let out a long, contemplative breath. 
Speaking calmly to Elaejia, you say, "I'm ready." 
You smile at Elaejia. 
(Elaejia walks around the tree, observing it briefly, before returning to your side.) 
Elaejia kneels down. 
(Rohese leans forward to place her hands on the ground at the foot of the black willow.) 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia quietly says, "This tree is scarred, so it is important to reassure it of your intentions, Rohese." 
You nod understandingly at Elaejia. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "I will be kind and respectful." 
You glance up. 
You gaze fondly at a black willow. 
Speaking softly to a black willow, you pray, "Blessed willow, please help me to understand why you are calling to me and what messages I am being given by the other trees." 
Speaking softly to a black willow, you continue, "Let me be guided by your wisdom." 
You kindly offer, "I bring you the gifts of moon and water." 
You remove a solid moonstone cube from in your lamb's wool robes. 
Speaking softly to a black willow, you say, "Please accept them with my love and gratitude." 
You carefully place a solid moonstone cube on the ground. 
You remove some essence of water from in your lamb's wool robes. 
You carefully place some essence of water on the ground. 
(Elaejia leans forward slowly and places her hands on the black willow's bark, being careful to avoid the scars.) 
(Rohese bows her head in reverence, resting her hands on the earth as she murmurs a prayer of blessing.  An errant breeze causes the lithe green boughs of the black willow to sway, briefly revealing its trunk and the silver scars flowing across its ebon surface.) 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "I wonder ..." 
(Elaejia murmurs softly, her chanting almost musical, as her hands glow with the release of mana into the willow's roots.) 
Elaejia cocks her head at you. 
Elaejia pauses and studies a black willow with thoughtful consideration, moving to observe it from multiple angles. 
(Rohese focuses on her hands and presses deep into the soil at the base of the black willow to share her mana.) 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you whisper aloud, "Do you think those scars might be dendroglyphs like those we found on the oak?" 
Elaejia gives a short little hum of surprise. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you whisper aloud, "And that's what the willow wants me to read?" 
You bite your lip. 
You glance up. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia slowly says, "It seems... possible." 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia wonders, "Why should they have scarred over in this case." 
(Rohese watches the spindly boughs of the black willow sway in the breeze, the gentle susurrus of its leaves is almost hypnotic.) 
You stand back up. 
You dust off your lamb's wool robes. 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
(Rohese carefully parts the curtain of spindly boughs with one hand and steps closer to the black willow to investigate the dark silvery scars on its ebon bark.) 
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process. 
You brush your fingers lightly against a black willow. 
Speaking excitedly to Elaejia, you exclaim, "It's the crescent moon again and look, more runic symbols!" 
Elaejia tilts her head up. 
You softly say, "You can just make them out." 
You lean forward. 
Elaejia furrows her brow. 
You brush your fingers lightly against a black willow. 
You rummage through some pure white lamb's wool robes with deep sleeves pooling into the train. 
You remove a smooth flat pebble with an off-center hole from in your lamb's wool robes. 
You smile. 
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "I was about to ask if you'd brought that." 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "Let's see, shall we." 
You giggle softly. 
You turn to face a black willow. 
(Rohese tentatively lifts the flat pebble to her eye and peers closely at the silvery runic symbols in the bark.) 
You let out a little squeal of delight. 
You delightedly exclaim, "I can read them!" 
Elaejia laughs softly, trying to hide her amusement. 
Elaejia clasps her hand over her mouth. 
You bite your lip. 
Speaking sheepishly to Elaejia, you say, "I'm sorry, I get so excited about the silliest things." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia wryly reminds, "We must be careful not to startle the spirit." 
You nod understandingly at Elaejia. 
You softly say, "I'll be quiet." 
You bite your lip. 
You lean forward. 
(Rohese places the flat pebble against her left eye and begins to read the symbols.) 
You slowly read, "Relinquish your attachment to the known, step into the unknown, and you will step into the field of all possibilities." 
(Elaejia resumes her musical chant for a few moments, refocusing on channeling mana into the tree's roots.) 
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process. 
Elaejia raises an eyebrow. 
You softly note, "That's ... exactly what the other willow whispered to me." 
Elaejia slowly empties her lungs. 
You softly exclaim, "Oh!  But I haven't told you, have I!" 
Elaejia looks over at you and shakes her head. 
You kneel down. 
You gaze fondly at a black willow. 
You remove a tiny thin green willow leaf from in your lamb's wool robes. 
Elaejia leans back. 
Elaejia moves to a sitting position. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you explain, "I visited an ancient willow in Vornavis a few weeks ago and it was quite enlightening." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Elaejia nods slowly to you. 
Speaking tentatively to Elaejia, you continue, "Just like this ... the willow called to me." 
You glance at a black willow. 
You sheepishly explain, "It was a full moon that night and I kept hearing the willow whispering to me to come, so - as reckless as it seems in hindsight - I went in search of it." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "To my surprise, I was able to commune with it and it whispered the exact same thing to me." 
You glance at a black willow. 
You slowly repeat, "Relinquish your attachment to the known, step into the unknown, and you will step into the field of all possibilities." 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you sigh, "And now I'm even more confused." 
You glance between a tiny thin green willow leaf and a smooth flat pebble with an off-center hole. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia allows, "Well.  No one can gainsay that you've stepped into the unknown." 
You nod faintly at Elaejia. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you admit, "I'm scared but I'm not, if that makes sense." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia quietly says, "It seems the willows believe there are further paths to tread." 
You nod. 
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia asks, "What holds you back from them?" 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you confide, "Fear, I suppose." 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you confide, "I'm afraid of what I might learn, afraid of losing everything I hold dear and ..." 
You brush your fingers lightly against your shooting star locket. 
You nod slowly. 
You glance at a black willow. 
Speaking sadly to a black willow, you say, "I wish you were still here, ada.  I could use your wisdom." 
Elaejia gazes thoughtfully at a black willow. 
You weep gently, trying to smile through your tears. 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "He would know what to do." 
(Rohese wipes away her tears.) 
Speaking gently in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "The willows seem to have something to say to you." 
You nod slightly. 
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "You say you can hear them, but I think you must focus and listen." 
Speaking softly to Elaejia, you say, "Perhaps I should just spend more time with them and stop being so impatient." 
Elaejia chuckles to herself. 
You are now speaking Elven. 
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "You're right, as always." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia allows, "Trees are rather known for their patience." 
You smile at Elaejia. 
Elaejia pauses and studies a black willow with thoughtful consideration, moving to observe it from multiple angles. 
Speaking reluctantly in Elven to Elaejia, you admit, "Something I'm not particularly good at." 
You bite your lip. 
Speaking appreciatively in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Thank you for spending time with me this afternoon." 
Elaejia takes a moment to observe you. 
(Rohese rests her hand over Elaejia's for a moment.) 
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "You are a good friend to me, despite all the hurt I have caused your family." 
You lower your gaze. 
Elaejia glances away. 
(Elaejia swallows, and takes your hand again.) 
You smile at Elaejia. 
Speaking hesitantly in Elven to Elaejia, you ask, "Would you be willing to help me again, should I discover anything more?" 
You incline your head. 
You bite your lip. 
Elaejia takes a deep breath. 
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I'll understand if you're not." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia quietly says, "I am resolved to master my emotions, and I ... would be grieved to lose your friendship now." 
You smile at Elaejia. 
With an empathetic nod, you take Elaejia's hand in yours for a moment and give it a gentle, reassuring squeeze. 
Speaking appreciatively in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Thank you." 
Elaejia closes her eyes for a moment. 
Speaking apologetically in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "But I have taken up enough of your time this afternoon." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Elaejia smiles wanly. 
Elaejia glances at a black willow. 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
You smile. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia advises, "This tree has more to share with you, I can feel it." 
Speaking in Elven, you softly say, "I think I will spend some time with the willow." 
You agree with Elaejia. 
Elaejia reaches out and touches a black willow. 
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I'll stay and listen for a while longer." 
You turn your ear toward a black willow. 
You let out a long, contemplative breath. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "Perhaps it is as I said, and the spirit is over cautious.  The influence of your father's echo here will help you become close enough to it, I am sure." 
You smile at Elaejia. 
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "My suggestion is to reflect on your father here, share those with the spirit." 
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I'll make sure I come and sit regularly." 
You nod at Elaejia. 
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "And I'll do that." 
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I'll also remember to be quiet and patient." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia says, "You might also find some fallen bark to make a tea of." 
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "That's a good idea." 
Speaking wryly in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "I knew you would be amenable to a tea." 
You giggle softly. 
Speaking bashfully in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I am rather partial to tea." 
You bite your lip. 
Speaking in Elven to you, Elaejia says, "I will let you begin your friendship here for today." 
Elaejia glances at a black willow. 
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Thank you again." 
You smile at Elaejia. 
Elaejia bites her lip. 
Elaejia inclines her head. 
You gaze thoughtfully at your flat pebble. 
You glance at a black willow. 
You let out a long, contemplative breath. 
Speaking in Elven, Elaejia murmurs, "I hope you find what calls to you soon." 
You smile at Elaejia. 
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "I'll let you know." 
Elaejia stands up. 
Speaking softly in Elven to Elaejia, you say, "Please do pass on my best wishes to your family." 
Elaejia dusts off her grey linen trousers. 
Elaejia smiles wistfully once again, and nods. 

Sealing the letter to her grandfather, she added it to the pile of completed correspondence. She had struggled to find the words to explain recent events so opted instead to simply inform him that she would visit soon. Her walk with Elaejia had resulted in more questions than answers so, as her friend had suggested, she would spend some time with the tree. Besides, it would be a good opportunity to start documenting her thoughts on their sentience.

Reaching for another sheet of parchment, she penned a brief note and rose to her feet. The dawn chorus outside her window had signalled it was time to start her day. Stepping quietly into the next room, she kissed Mirkk gently on the forehead and watched him sleep for a few moments before placing the note beside him.

Before leaving the Veythorne Gardens, Rohese had harvested a few of the newer branches from the willow tree, taking care to only cut what she needed and giving thanks. She had stored away most of the prepared bark, stems, and leaves from those cuttings, to allow them to dry, but kept a little back to make a fresh tisane. She could smell it brewing as she walked down the stairs, the faint scent of wintergreen perfuming the air.

Pouring a cup and taking a sip of the bitter herbal infusion, Rohese noticed faint lines of text fading in and out beneath the pale skin on the back of her hands. Elaejia had been right about the tea having the desired effect; let's see if she was also right about sitting with the willow.

Sat by the side of the stream, Rohese was cloaked in a thicket of willow. Its protective branches extended out over the thin stream, providing shade and shelter to birds and insects alike. Deer had grazed on the delicate spring growth but the canopy was still bushy with an abundance of thin green leaves on spindly boughs. The sound of bees and other insects feasting on pollen and nectar hummed over the trickling sound of the water and she marvelled at the tranquillity of this hallowed space.

The Willow Tree (Part 2)

[Veythorne Manor, Gardens - 13415] 
Tendrils of trumpetvine twine about the arcing designs of the gates to the north, the verdant creepers weaving a complex veil of pure green dotted with flame-red blossoms.  The sagging bough of a black willow hangs over the gate, its own whip-like vines intertwined with the trumpet-shaped flowers.  A tiny stream winds its way along and through the path, its trickling cadence mingling with the soft rustles of the leaves overhead.  You also see a double-lidded wicker basket lined with checked gingham and a soft teal angora wool blanket with some stuff on it. 

A blue-eyed white tiger scrambles in. 
You smile at the tiger. 
A blue-eyed white tiger sits down on his haunches and watches the bustling surroundings warily. 
Speaking fondly to a blue-eyed white tiger, you say, "Hello, River." 
You pet the tiger, scratching him behind the ears. 
Mirkk just arrived. 
Mirkk grins. 
You glance up. 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Mirkk gives you a lingering kiss on the forehead. 
Speaking fondly to Mirkk, you say, "Hello you." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "Hello love." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "There are actually quite a few willows here." 
Mirkk grins. 
You laugh softly, trying to hide your amusement. 
You nod at Mirkk. 
You softly say, "As I found out on Feastday." 
You bite your lip. 
You gaze fondly at a black willow. 
Mirkk grins. 
Mirkk glances at a black willow. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "You found my note, then." 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
(Rohese lowers her green leather lexicon into her lap.) 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I did. Made my morning just knowing I was going to see you today." 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Mirkk sits down. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "I'm happy you could come." 
You lean forward. 
Mirkk leans forward. 
You give Mirkk a lingering kiss on the lips. 
You gaze fondly at Mirkk. 
Mirkk says, "Oh." 
You incline your head. 
Mirkk offers you a radiant ghostly blue leaf.   
You let out a little squeal of delight. 
You carefully place some willow bark tea on the ground. 
You accept Mirkk's offer and are now holding a radiant ghostly blue leaf. 
Speaking appreciatively to Mirkk, you exclaim, "Thank you!" 
You laugh softly, trying to hide your amusement. 
You put a radiant ghostly blue leaf in a double-lidded wicker basket lined with checked gingham that is on the ground. 
You accept Mirkk's offer and are now holding a radiant ghostly blue leaf. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I saw those on the way and had to pick them up for you." 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "You spoil me." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
You brush your fingers lightly against your ghostly blue leaf. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I adore you, so it is easy." 
You demurely lower your misty grey eyes. 
You put a radiant ghostly blue leaf in a double-lidded wicker basket lined with checked gingham that is on the ground. 
Speaking wistfully to Mirkk, you say, "I've missed your company." 
(Rohese brushes a stray lock of Mirkk's hair aside, tucking it behind his ear.) 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "But I was happy to find you asleep in the Manse this morning." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk exclaims, "And I yours. What have you been up to?  
You wrinkle your nose. 
You take a tiny sip of your willow bark tea, warming your lips and making sure it isn't too hot to drink. 
A feathery pale pink leaf lazily drifts in on a soft breeze and settles to the ground. 
Mirkk glances at a feathery pale pink leaf. 
You carefully place some willow bark tea on the ground. 
You pick up a feathery pale pink leaf. 
Mirkk laughs! 
You hold your pale pink leaf close to your body. 
You giggle softly. 
A blue-eyed white tiger settles into a comfortable sitting position. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "My family have had a lot to say lately." 
You gaze thoughtfully at your pale pink leaf. 
You gaze fondly at a black willow. 
You put a feathery pale pink leaf in a double-lidded wicker basket lined with checked gingham that is on the ground. 
You pick up some willow bark tea. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I was just about to say that the trees seem to be talking today." 
Mirkk gazes thoughtfully at a black willow. 
You smile. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "Do you know this one?" 
You softly say, "So, you're probably wondering why I'm here." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
Speaking wistfully to Mirkk, you say, "It turns out ... my father's ashes were scattered here." 
Mirkk points down. 
Mirkk asks, "Here?" 
You nod slowly. 
You smile. 
Mirkk nods. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you ask, "Do you remember me telling you about the willow in Solhaven?" 
You bite your lip. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I do." 
You softly elaborate, "How it ... called to me." 
You surreptitiously glance at a black willow. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
Mirkk gazes with interest at a black willow. 
You let out a long, contemplative breath. 
Mirkk blinks at a black willow. 
You softly say, "Well, this one has started doing the same." 

The willow sags gently as if holding the weight of a heavy burden, its slightly somber appearance only enhanced by the dark silvery scars that flow across its ebon surface. 

Mirkk gazes thoughtfully at a black willow. 
Mirkk says, "This one though." 
Mirkk stares at a black willow. 
You glance between Mirkk and a black willow. 
Mirkk turns to face you. 
Mirkk smiles. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you ask, "Do you hear it too?" 
Mirkk glances at a black willow. 
Mirkk frowns. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "It is not so much what I hear as what I see." 
You softly ask, "Oh?" 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
Speaking curiously to Mirkk, you ask, "What do you see?" 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "Arborglyphs. Sometimes called dendroglyphs." 
You nod enthusiastically at Mirkk! 
You softly exclaim, "You see them too!" 
Your face lights up with joy. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "It is not uncommon for rangers to use them to mark things in the wilds." 
You let out a little squeal of delight. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "We try to be careful not to hurt the trees, though." 
Mirkk glances at a black willow. 
You nod understandingly at Mirkk. 
Mirkk whispers, "But these are different." 
You nod slowly at Mirkk. 
You smile. 
Speaking cautiously to Mirkk, you ask, "Can you read them?" 
Mirkk looks over at you and shakes his head. 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Mirkk says, "But I have seen them before." 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you confide, "I can." 
You bite your lip. 
You softly ask, "Oh?" 
You softly inquire, "Where?" 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I think so." 
(Mirkk leans over and lightly touches the bark of the willow tree.) 
You lean forward. 
Mirkk turns to face you. 
(Rohese eagerly places her hand over Mirkk's and awaits his answer.) 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you prompt, "Try and remember, it could be very important." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I am familiar with some markings as a ranger, even those in other languages." 
You bite your lip. 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "But this stands out because of how unfamiliar the language is." 
You glance at a black willow. 
You smile. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you explain, "They're elven runes." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "Just like the one I saw near the boathouse in the Wyrdeep." 
You softly exclaim, "Oh!" 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "I told you about the waterfall?" 
You softly say, "No." 
You shake your head. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "The settlement had a river that ran through it." 
You softly say, "You told me about the willow oaks, the maralda and the bridges." 
You smile. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "The river created a beautiful waterfall." 
You place a hand over your heart. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "They had steps that went down behind the waterfall to the pool at the bottom. Also at the bottom was a boathouse." 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "Ilizzaro, Emmakin and I took those boats on our way to River's Rest." 
You softly say, "So that's how you managed to avoid the Greensmen." 
You giggle softly. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "At the side of the boathouse, as if shielding it from view if coming up river, were several willows." 
Mirkk grins at you. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "As we were leaving, I saw this type of marking on one of the willows." 
Mirkk points at a black willow. 
You glance at a black willow. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "But I do not know what any of it means. I am glad you can read it, because I surely cannot." 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you ask, "Elven runes, like these?" 
You point at a black willow. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
You smile. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "I couldn't at first but ..." 
You lower your gaze. 
Speaking sheepishly to Mirkk, you say, "You're going to laugh at me." 
Mirkk glances at you. 
You bite your lip. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "Only with you, not at you." 
Mirkk winks at you. 
Speaking embarrassedly to Mirkk, you say, "I have a seeing stone." 
You blush sheepishly to yourself. 
Mirkk looks thoughtfully at you. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "Firstly, that does not surprise me." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Mirkk gives you a lingering kiss on the cheek. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "And I love you all the more for it." 
You bite your lip. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "Second, the seeing stone helps you read the runes?" 
You softly say, "These runes, yes." 
You point at a black willow. 
Mirkk gazes thoughtfully at a black willow. 
You softly say, "It seems they are under an enchantment of some kind." 
You softly say, "Do you see this one ...." 
You stand back up. 
You take a few steps toward a black willow. 
Mirkk stands up. 
(Rohese traces the shape of a crescent moon scratched into the bark of the black willow.) 
Mirkk leans forward. 
A blue-eyed white tiger stretches out and rolls over on his side sound asleep. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
You softly say, "It's faint but it's there." 
You smile. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I see it." 
You softly say, "There's a similar one on an oak tree nearby." 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
A blue-eyed white tiger purrs quietly in his sleep. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "Really?" 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "I think it means they can be read by moonlight." 
You nod at Mirkk. 
You softly say, "But I was able to read the other runes beneath it using my stone." 
You blush sheepishly to yourself. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "Will the moon need to match the shape of the moon rune on the tree?" 
You softly say, "That I have yet to find out." 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Mirkk gazes up into the heavens. 
Mirkk smirks. 
You softly say, "I am convinced there are some on the dogwood too." 
You softly say, "But I will need to venture here at night to find out." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
Speaking tentatively to Mirkk, you say, "I was hoping you might come with me." 
You bite your lip. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I would like nothing more." 
You smile at Mirkk. 
You softly say, "I don't really want to walk these gardens alone in the dark." 
You glance warily around the area. 
Mirkk smiles. 
You let out a long, contemplative breath. 
You take a few steps toward a soft teal angora wool blanket. 
You kneel down. 
Mirkk sits down. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you add, "But do you know what the strangest part of this is?" 
You glance at a black willow. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "What is that?" 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you reveal, "The runes on this tree match what the willow in Solhaven whispered to me." 
You bite your lip. 
Mirkk blinks. 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
Mirkk looks lost in thought. 
Speaking slowly to Mirkk, you recall, "Relinquish your attachment to the known, step into the unknown, and you will step into the field of all possibilities." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "So if I remember correctly." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "You had said the willow in Solhaven whispered to you." 
You nod at Mirkk. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "And this one has it written in runes?" 
You nod at Mirkk. 
You smile. 
Mirkk glances between a black willow and yourself. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you admit, "I have no idea what any of it means." 
Mirkk shrugs at you. 
You take a tiny sip of your willow bark tea, warming your lips and making sure it isn't too hot to drink. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I am at a loss." 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "Elaejia suggests I sit with the tree and just listen." 
You turn your ear toward a black willow.  
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "So, here I am." 
You bite your lip. 
Mirkk smiles. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "Should I shush, then?" 
Mirkk grins. 
You laugh softly, trying to hide your amusement. 
You shake your head. 
You fondly say, "No need, silly." 
You give Mirkk a lingering kiss on the cheek. 
You softly say, "I can still hear the whispers but I can't make them out." 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
Mirkk glances at a black willow. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "She also suggested I drink tea made from its bark." 
You gaze thoughtfully at your willow bark tea. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "She seems to have a strong understanding of communing with trees." 
(Rohese glances down at her hands and the faint lines of text flowing beneath it.) 
You agree with Mirkk. 
You softly say, "She does, I am so grateful for her insights." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "Is something troubling you?" 
A blue-eyed white tiger purrs quietly in his sleep. 
Speaking to a blue-eyed white tiger, Mirkk says, "Besides his snoring." 
Speaking reticently to Mirkk, you say, "Only that the words have appeared again." 
You giggle at a blue-eyed white tiger. 
You let out a long, contemplative breath. 
Mirkk removes a spiny dark green leaf from in his black leather waistcoat. 
Mirkk turns over his dark green leaf. 
Mirkk put a spiny dark green leaf in his black leather waistcoat. 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "They're talking to you too." 
You nod at Mirkk. 

A pleasant shiver runs down your spine as the susurrus surrounding the black willow quickly envelops you. All the other sounds of the world fall away, and the tingling sensation overtakes your body. The scarred glyphs on the willow’s bark emit a faint vert glow.  

You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process. 
You gaze about with intense interest, your misty grey eyes pausing to briefly inspect the situation in their path. 
Mirkk raises an eyebrow in your direction. 
(Rohese shivers slightly as the lithe green boughs of the black willow sway on a gentle breeze, briefly revealing the scars on its ebon bark that appear to be emitting a faint vert glow.) 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "Everything okay?" 
For the briefest of moments, your gaze alights on the willow. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you ask, "Do you see that?" 
You bite your lip. 
You point at a black willow. 
You distantly say, "And the whispers..." 
You incline your head. 
Mirkk looks over at you and shakes his head. 
You glance around the area. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "Just rustling of leaves." 
Mirkk shrugs. 
You bite your lip. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "You heard something?" 
You nod at Mirkk. 
Mirkk turns an inquisitive ear toward you. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you exclaim, "I can't make anything out though!" 
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process. 
Mirkk blinks. 

The faint whispering once again fills ears, blocking out all other sounds in the garden and raising gooseflesh over your whole body. You still cannot make out any word from the many whispers that suddenly surround you but the tingling sensation warms your form. The scarred glyphs glow more brightly.  

You pause in introspection, your gaze growing distant with your ponderings. 
(Rohese covers her ears and closes her eyes tightly as if overwhelmed by something.  She slowly rocks back and forth on her knees in time with the susurrus of the black willow's leaves riffling on the breeze.  The scarred glyphs on its bark glow more brightly and the faint traces of text barely visible beneath her skin bubble to the surface for a brief moment.) 
You fret. 
Mirkk frowns. 
Mirkk glances at a black willow. 
Mirkk glances at you. 
You stand back up. 
You take a few steps toward a black willow. 
You reach out and touch a black willow. 

Focusing your attention, the willow’s whispers subsume you once again and you finally discern the fondly voiced words, "Mother... Moonlight..." repeating over and over. The glyphs on the willow's bark finally emit enough of a verdant glow that you can make out a second runic inscription further down the trunk fading slowly as the willow's voice of air finally stills.  

Mirkk stands up. 
You quietly mouth, "Mother ... Moonlight." 
You slowly repeat, "Mother.  Moonlight." 
Mirkk glances between a black willow and yourself. 
(Rohese focuses all of her attention on the black willow, its whispers distracting her once again as she strains to listen.  The dendroglyphs on the black willow's bark finally emit enough of a verdant glow that it is possible to make out an inscription further down the trunk that slowly fades as the black willow's voice of air finally stills.) 
You gasp. 
You kneel down. 
You brush your fingers lightly against a black willow. 
You softly exclaim, "Look!" 
You point at a black willow. 
Mirkk glances at a black willow. 
You incline your head. 
Mirkk leans forward. 
Mirkk squints at a black willow. 
You furrow your brow, probably adding a wrinkle or two in the process. 
You slowly read:

"Linden, guide my heart.
 Linden, light my mind.
 Linden, guard my love. 
 Linden, shade my line." 

You brush your fingers lightly against a black willow. 
You sigh. 
You softly say, "And it's gone." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "Linden?" 
(Rohese rests her hand on the rough bark of the black willow, her fingers tracing the scars where the runes were glowing.) 
You nod at Mirkk. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "I wonder..." 
You bite your lip. 
You gaze thoughtfully at a black willow. 
Mirkk sits down. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "A silver for your thoughts?" 
Speaking vaguely to Mirkk, you speculate, "I think we may have to look for a linden tree." 
You glance at a black willow. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "Do you think it is nearby?" 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "Or somewhere off the edges of the maps?" 
Mirkk grins. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you confide, "I'm concerned you might be having second thoughts about taking up with me." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
Mirkk glances at you. 
Mirkk looks over at you and shakes his head. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I have not had a second thought about anything since the day I met you." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "And if I have failed to do so already, let me say that I love you." 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "I love you too." 
You lean forward. 
You give Mirkk a lingering kiss on the lips. 
Mirkk gives you a lingering kiss on the lips. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "You are my everything." 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you promise, "And you are mine." 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you confess, "I don't think I could cope with all of this without you." 
You let out a long, contemplative breath. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "Well, I will not claim to understand any of it, but I am here to support you in any way I can." 
A blue-eyed white tiger purrs quietly in his sleep. 
Mirkk glances at a blue-eyed white tiger. 
You smile at Mirkk. 
You ponder the meaning of a blue-eyed white tiger's existence. 
You giggle softly. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you ponder, "I think I will have to go and visit grandfather again soon and ask him if he knows anything about a linden tree." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk asks, "And where is grandfather?" 
A blue-eyed white tiger purrs quietly in his sleep. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "He lives a couple of hours northeast of here." 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you exclaim, "You should come with me!" 
You reach over and gently rest your hand on Mirkk's arm. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I would love to." 
The heat of noon settles in as the sun reaches its apex. 
Mirkk grins. 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I did not want to invite myself." 
You encouragingly say, "Oh, do come, you can fish together." 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "I will make sure to bring my fishing rod, then." 
Mirkk nods once. 
Speaking tentatively to Mirkk, you say, "I need to tell him about us." 
You wrinkle your nose. 
You smile at Mirkk. 
You nod encouragingly at Mirkk. 
Speaking to you, Mirkk says, "And I will be prepared to use said fishing rod as a defensive weapon." 
You laugh softly, trying to hide your amusement. 
Mirkk winks at you. 
Speaking reassuringly to Mirkk, you say, "I doubt it will come to that." 
You gently brush your nose against Mirkk's. 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "Grandfather is a dear, honestly." 
You surreptitiously glance at a black willow. 
You softly say, "Father might have been a little harder to ..." 
You let out a long, contemplative breath. 
You smile at Mirkk. 
Mirkk grins. 
Speaking to a black willow, Mirkk says, "There is always fishing to talk about." 
Speaking softly to Mirkk, you say, "That's settled then, we'll go and visit him later this week." 
You giggle to yourself. 
Mirkk nods to you. 
You glance between Mirkk and a black willow. 
You gaze thoughtfully at your green leather lexicon. 
You thumb through your green leather lexicon but are unable to find what you're looking for. 
You shake your head. 
You gently close your green leather lexicon with an open palm. 
You put a leaf-embossed green leather lexicon in a double-lidded wicker basket lined with checked gingham that is on the ground. 
Mirkk glances at you. 
You softly say, "Enough of trees and my family, you have my undivided attention now." 
A spiny dark green leaf lazily drifts in on a soft breeze and settles to the ground. 
You glance at a spiny dark green leaf. 
Mirkk picks up a spiny dark green leaf. 
Mirkk put a spiny dark green leaf in a double-lidded wicker basket lined with checked gingham that is on the ground. 
Mirkk winks at you. 
You gaze thoughtfully at a double-lidded wicker basket lined with checked gingham. 
You smile quietly to yourself. 
Speaking amusedly to Mirkk, you say, "It seems my great-great grandfather wants to join us now too." 

Cottonwood

There had been too many distractions lately and Rohese was conscious that she had failed to follow up on any of the revelations from her time spent with the trees in the Veythorne Gardens. A sense of guilt washed over her as she remembered her promise to Elaejia and, more specifically, to the oak that they had communed with back in the spring.

At the time she had been gifted with a vision of her grandmother writing in the very same book that had started this whole search for the truth. The vision had been brought to an abrupt end by a blizzard of cottonwood catkins that reminded Rohese of the tree she used to play under as a child. The same tree that had been revealed through a loresong associated with her mother's pendant. Had her mother been trying to tell her something about the Bayvel family and its arcane legacy?

Rohese lifted the pavonated leather-bound book from her lap and opened it once more. The faint text beneath her skin shifted slightly as if acknowledging this simple action. The text rarely moved these days but she was always aware of its presence. Mirkk had seemingly grown accustomed to it now; he had barely mentioned it since she had first shared it with him. She sometimes caught him gazing at it as it rippled up her arm or idly tracing it with his finger after they had made love. It amused her that after such intimate moments, emotive and explicit words would randomly reveal themselves only to fade almost immediately as if hiding in embarrassment.

Turning a page in the book, Rohese re-read the all too familiar and innocuous paragraph on conversation in polite society. It seemed so tiresome to her these days. It was the hidden meaning to the book that still eluded her and she slammed it shut in frustration.

A quick glance out of the window reminded her that her impatience and black mood was largely due to the inclement weather and nothing more. Mirkk was running a few errands and wasn't likely to be back for a few hours. Dare she slip out now without him noticing? Recalling their conversation earlier that day, she resolved to be back before he was to avoid causing him any further concern.

Pulling the hood of her houppelande up over her head, she quickly slipped outside and headed towards the city-proper. The cottonwood tree was located just behind the Bayvel Manse in High Park and Rohese hurried towards it. The rain made the cobbles beneath her feet slippery but she navigated them with dexterity and soon reached her destination. The large tree loomed over the greensward; its silvery white bark now considerably darker in places with deep fissures indicating its age. It was too late in the year for catkins but Rohese recalled many warm spring days spent chasing her sister around this very tree amid a flurry of white seeds.

Ignoring the storm, Rohese lowered herself into the wet grass to kneel before the tree. She felt there was no need to say anything - just being here was enough - and she was soon rewarded with the faint echoes of children’s laughter and the sound of her mother's voice filling her thoughts.

"Be careful what you wish for, meldaiel."

Time passed and Rohese was reluctant to leave for fear of breaking this longed-for connection with her mother, Aenor Bayvel. There had been no further whispers but a single glossy leaf had floated down to land in her hand. A solitary tear traced its way down Rohese's cheek but was soon lost in the raindrops that continued their stinging attack against her.

Enough distractions. Rohese whispered into the wind, "I am coming home to you, melmenya."

Dogwood (by Night)

The storms that had beset Elanthia for the whole of Jastatos had given way to misty autumn mornings and cloudless star-filled skies. The Lady of the Green watched over the night with her stellar stalk of wheat as Mirkk and Rohese entered the Veythorne Manor grounds under the cover of darkness. It was the perfect night. Liabo sat in the western sky with her face glowing fully on the world, her stark brilliance illuminating the way with tiny fireflies adding their golden glow across the cobblestones.

Not that they really needed any help in navigating their way to the Gardens; Rohese could probably find the dogwood tree blindfolded now, having spent many hours just sitting beneath it. Growing atop a small hill in the southwest corner was her great-grandmother's tree. Although it was not particularly large, it made up for its lack of grandeur with its delicate beauty. Its branches arched off in every direction to form a cloud of pale pink leaves that fluttered like feathered wings in the cool night air.

Rohese was hoping for some answers. She had learned from her commune with a nearby oak some months ago that there could possibly be dendroglyphs on this tree too that could only be seen under certain conditions and she was sure those would be met tonight.

Cool drafts of air caused the dark violet windflowers to shiver briefly and Rohese wrapped her robe tightly around her as she knelt among their velvety petals. The grass was damp beneath her knees but her focus was entirely on the familiar dogwood. A flurry of pale pink leaves rose into the air and swirled around her with soft whispered words of welcome.

The quiet hoot of an owl could be heard from somewhere above. Mirkk seated himself nearby and chuckled, reminded of something amusing that had occurred earlier that day.

Rohese sat in stillness for some time, letting her mind wander over all that she had learned from the trees over the last year or so. She had come a long way in her search for the truth but there was still so much she didn’t understand. Lifting her eyes to the shadowy pink canopy overhead, Mirkk watched in silent amazement as the milky glow of the moon coalesced around her, bathing her in a soft wash of white radiance. A gentle breeze stirred her hair, causing it to shimmer with an ethereal light and, in turn, revealing the clear outline of dendroglyphs scarring the bark of the tree.

Mirkk quickly rose to his feet to examine the marks. The silvery gleam had illuminated a crescent moon above a series of elven runic symbols, not dissimilar to the marks Rohese had shown him on the willow. Tracing his finger over the strange indentations, Mirkk broke the silence to ask, "Can you read them?"

Almost as if in a trance, Rohese slowly reached inside her robe for her seeing stone. Mirkk noticed that the faint text beneath the skin on the back of her hand was clearly visible in the moonlight. He could make out that the words were elven but he wasn't able to translate them. Peering through the hole in her stone, Rohese began to read the symbols displayed before her:

The wind, with a sway and rustle, Toss'd the leaves of the linden tree, And, deep in the silvery shadow, A treasure was shown to me.

Just as she lowered the stone into her lap, the symbols began to fade away and the incandescence around her slowly dissipated.

Mirkk stared at his wife. He barely recognised her as her hair was now pure white with golden highlights. A white halo encircled her misty grey eyes and her skin had an almost luminous quality to it.

The Songs of Glimae'den

Liabo was a gleaming silver-white orb hanging low in the sky, exceptionally large and pale. Beams of moonlight turned the pond aglow like molten metal; beguiling in its languid, silent beauty. Long, graceful branches of willow swayed gently back and forth on a barely palpable wind. Under the wavering light of the moon, they resembled ghosts dragging their distended arms along the ground. The silence was omnipresent, broken only by the lone hoot of a saw-whet owl.

Rohese paused for a moment before entering the hallowed space. Bathed in the ethereal light of the full moon, she turned her face upwards and closed her eyes. It was then that she heard the singing; soft and clear on the cool breeze.

She had spent the week wandering the beautiful town and ancient woodlands of Cysaegir with Mirkk; examining the ruins of long-abandoned elven dwellings and attempting to build trust with the trees. In the light of day, the air had been filled with so many distractions - the susurration of the leafy canopy and clamour of birdsong - but her commune with the willow had brought with it a sense of peace and a desire to return. Her intuition had told her that she needed to come back under the light of a full moon and she hadn't been disappointed.

Haunting the night air were beautiful, dulcet voices singing in perfect harmony. They sang of love and loss, of golden leaves falling in the wind and glimmering silver starlight. Sad strains of regret and grief blended into lullabies and choral chants.

Rohese wasn't sure how long she had stood there listening. The calm of the clear night had also brought with it a heavy dew and the hem of her robe was now sodden. Barely noticing, she stepped out of the moon-silhouetted stands of birch and willow and the lamentations ceased; all she could hear was the soothing, babbling rush of the nearby waterfall.

The collective endeavour of the trees had brought her here; they remembered Glimae'den! She made a silent promise to return and headed back to the Naerine Hostelry.

~☆ ^☽ ☆~

Mirkk sat up to find Rohese standing at the foot of their bed. The hem of her robe was soaking wet and her feet were stained with mud and grass. She seemed to be oblivious to the fact that she was shivering from the cold. Grabbing one of the blankets, he quickly rose to wrap it around her shoulders.

Rohese awoke with a start.

Interlude

Part I

"With freedom, flowers, books, and the moon, who could not be perfectly happy?" ~ Oscar Wilde

Earion was a proud elf and especially proud of his family. Second of his name, Earion was born in Ta'Illistim in 3712 ME and could trace the Bayvel line back to the Undead War. He had known there was something special about Sahese the moment he had met her. A descendant of the Veythorne family, she had been a respected member of Illistim society with a keen love of literature; something he now recognised in their grand-daughter, Rohese. Also bearing a striking resemblance to Sahese, it was hardly surprising that he had grown very close to Rohese over the years since his wife's death and that of her parents.

Earion had married Sahese in the year 4107, shortly after they had met, but it was only a few years ago that he had learned a little more about his elusive wife that had troubled him; much of her past was still a mystery though. He was growing more concerned as Rohese had become curious about her too and seemed eager to find answers. It all stemmed from a book that Sahese had given her. Earion had noticed the faint text appearing on Rohese's skin from time-to-time. It reminded him of the nights that he had caught his wife writing in that same book. She had been unaware of his presence as he cautiously watched her make notations on its creamy vellum pages, then murmur a low incantation and wave her opal-ringed hand across it. He would check the book the next day only to find the pages blank. When the book had been gifted to their grand-daughter, he noticed that it was filled with anodyne text on etiquette and propriety. He had yet to speak to Rohese about it and was unsure if he should even mention it.

Standing at the library window, Earion watched Mirkk bend to pick a flower from the garden and tuck it behind Rohese's ear. He liked Mirkk. They were clearly very much in love and - knowing Rohese's predicament with regard to children – he had put aside his initial reservations about their marriage as he simply wanted her to have the freedom to be happy. He was troubled though. Last night, he had caught her sleep walking. Taking a stroll around the house before retiring to bed, he had noticed Rohese standing down by the edge of the lake in just a shift. The Liabo moon was full, casting a pale silvery glow across the languid water and she appeared to be just staring at its reflection.

Earion had managed to coax her back inside and to her chambers where she woke with a start. Whilst it was odd that she seemed to have no recollection of where she had been, he was more perturbed by the fact that her hair was pure white with golden highlights. A white halo encircled her misty grey eyes and her skin had an almost luminous quality to it. He remembered how he had found Sahese in exactly the same circumstances.

He made a mental note to speak to Mirkk the next day when they had plans to go fishing.

Part II

There were precisely twenty-two linden trees in the grove on her grandfather's estate. A known favoured spot of her grandmother's, Rohese had spent the morning wandering alone among the graceful deciduous ornamentals in the hope of finding some answers. As she meticulously inspected the trunk of each tree, she recalled the mysterious passage of text recently revealed in the grey bark of a dogwood.

Finding no obvious signs of dendroglyphs on these age-old trees, she lowered herself with an irritated sigh to the ground. Kneeling on a carpet of dewy grass and fallen leaves, she gazed up at the glorious yellow canopy overhead. Fall had cast its enchantment, each tree now bearing a golden coronet of feathery foliage that would soon be carried away by the seasonal winds. The babbling sound of water in the nearby river added to the soothing autumnal ambience broken only by an occasional woodpecker and mourning dove.

Rohese pulled her shawl around her shoulders. She felt an eerie sense of detachment from the expansive house in the distance. Set in a narrow dell on the edge of ancient woodland, the ancestral home was currently shrouded in a silvery grey mist that had yet to disperse in the weak sunlight. It was a magical place, filled with many fond memories of time spent with loved ones yet tinged with the poignancy of their loss.

Here, among the trees, she suddenly missed Mirkk, wanting to hear his voice and share her thoughts with him. He was somewhere in the mist on the other side of the house, fishing with her grandfather and she longed to see him. Rohese inhaled the sweet, soothing fragrance of the trees and tried to overcome her apprehension; she would have to wait until this evening to find comfort in his arms. As if sensing her unease, the leaves of the trees rustled with a dry, sorrowful sound; the musical psithurism of the foliage lending a doleful counterpoint to the melodic song from the birds concealed within. A shiver ran down Rohese's spine. Glancing down, she noticed the text moving in an agitated state beneath the skin on the back of her hands.

"What are you trying to tell me, Amma?" Rohese cried out in frustration, yet no answer came.

Author's Notes

The Elven Connection with Trees

A tree in its infancy sends roots down into the earth even as it reaches and opens to the sky above, in search of nourishment from the elements. In the same way, elves connect with the world and the Palurin Fea with elemental and spiritual strands that keep them connected. Just like a tree, an elf seeks the sustenance needed to survive and thrive. Both serve as conduits for the intermingling of the opposite and complementary elements of air, water, fire, and earth.

Trees will often grow around other trees or even through rock, shattering it, in their effort to reach the air and light they need to survive. Elves are similarly resilient with a built-in propensity for growth and the conditions that promote it. Elves find creative ways around the obstacles they confront as they follow their own paths, moving toward that which sustains them. Long ago exiled after the Undead War, dark elves' skin grew dark from exposure to the mana foci of Rhoska-Tor and they mastered spiritual and elemental magic as no other race ever could.

Contemplating the ways in which trees and elves mirror one another brings them into alignment with the reality that they are all part of the Palurin Fea. Elven progenies, and the trees and their offspring, will live together on Elanthia as long as they all survive, sharing the elements and serving together to forward the Arkati's plan.

Trees Remember

There has always been a spiritual link between elves and trees, and elves who are grieving find in trees an unspoken solace and a solemn comfort. The planting of memorial trees is longstanding tradition throughout the Elven Nations, and usually given in memory of a life well-lived, or as a symbol of everlasting affection. The planting of trees symbolizes peace, life, growth, and hope for the future.

Whilst Rohese's family are not of a high enough station to have memorial trees planted in places of honor, they nonetheless have preferred locations where their seedpods are planted or favoured trees where their ashes are scattered.

Memorial Trees

An extract from an essay written on Memorial Trees by Elaejia Silithyr

An elf wishing a memorial tree prepares one for herself by selecting a seedpod and binding herself to it before her death. If she does not plant it herself, or take it with her to her death, her family is enjoined to plant the seedpod in a place where it will thrive.

Having been bound to the spirit of an elf, the seedling assumes some of the life force of that elf and is granted an even longer life than even trees generally enjoy. They are also more resistant to blights and other vegetable dangers.

They may blossom in atypical colors or with unusual vibrancy, especially on the anniversaries of the death of their elf.

The earlier in an elf's life she chooses to bind herself to a seedpod, the more connected their spirits become, as the tree's spirit has longer to know her.

Even if an elf only chooses and binds herself to a seedpod on her deathbed, her tree will always remember her name, and will whisper it into the wind occasionally. Some older elven mortuary houses provide this service upon request.

The most connected trees assume some of the knowledge of their elf, though in general the things of interest to trees are not typically very interesting to non-sessile mortals. There are a great many trees with memories of particularly beautiful wildflower meadows and enthusiastic honeybees from aeons past, for example.

In general, the spirits of memorial trees are more open, and interested in the lives of non-sessile mortals than other tree spirits are. One might think of them as "partially domesticated," such as like felines.