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Fae of the Living Forest

The Goddess Tree is the light of the Kinarian land...but a darkness threatens to extinguish it.

By CD TurnerPublished 4 months ago 5 min read

The trees become aglow as the sun sets. Luminous butterflies flutter in the high branches. The tree frogs begin crooning lullabies while nocturnal creatures arise from their slumber.

The Faekind live in these enchanted woods, not as usurpers, but as minders of the Kinarian Trees. Each one is unique, but the largest tree's splendor is worthy of divine worship. The bark is glittering opaline with rivulets of silver. Her leaves are like translucent feathers, the fibers like spun gold thread. Each fallen leaf is a blessing because they have incredible alchemical properties.

Ethelia gently caresses the heated bark of the Goddess Tree. She feels a thrum of life beneath her fingers. Her fair skin seems to glow and glimmer as stands beneath the Goddess' branches. Her students gather before the tree, watching her every move.

"The Goddess Tree is our source of life." she explains in a reverent tone. "Our magicks are a gift from the Ethereal One. She blessed every one of us as babes in the womb."

Her students stare up in amazement at the wondrous beauty. The Great Tree shines its own light, brighter than the moons.

"But the Goddess Tree is in mortal danger." Ethelia laments. "The Elves from the Western Marshes threaten our forests."

Ethelia ruminates on the somber expressions of her pupils. She's lived two centuries now, raising generation after generation of Fae. She recognizes the features of past students: Aldri Myra's pointed nose, Caprina Fliori's crystalline blue eyes. And the ever-present bright-violet-haired Jenisari family who are all uncannily similar.

"I strive to teach you the ways of the Living Forests. We are not owners of its land, its trees, or its vegetation. We are Theirs. The earth beneath your feet has a life beneath its roots. The trees can feel us and perceive us. The waters are Their lifeblood."

"Are we to assume this lifeblood is Their waste water?" a snide voice emanates from the Jenisari table. The eldest among them, the Prince of Fae, Rionyr Jenisari is lavishly dressed in silks and goldleaf fabric. His bluish-gray parlor matches his kin as well as his wide, almond-shaped eyes. He regards Tree Minder Ethelia with apparent boredom.

"Do be reminded that I am still of status to issue discipline, my Prince." Ethelia responds curtly. "The Living Forest does hear all, as your father does."

"And yet, he isn't here. He's sitting on his pompous arse in the throne room drinking Omori wine while I waste time listening to you." Rionyr seethes.

Ethelia regards him warily, snapping her fingers. At once, she conjures a jar from thin air containing a grotesque mass of flesh. Rionyr clutches at his throat, staring at Ethelia in horror. He tries to talk, but can only emit gargled noises. The rest of the class watches on in silence while the Jenisaris all balk at Ethelia's brutal magick.

"You may have your vocal cords back after class, Mr. Jenisari." Ethelia advises him.

"You've committed dark magicks against the Heir of Kinaria!" pipes up the next eldest of the Jenisari clan.

Fyrelda looks like a twin of Rionyr rather than a younger sister. She distinguishes herself with an iridescent golden tattoo upon her visage, appearing as a permanent headband. She's affixed the Jenisari crest in the midst of her forehead, which gleams poisonously purple in the light of the Goddess Tree.

"Lower your voice, child. There is life that sleeps beneath you." Ethelia warns her. "I may be forgiving, but this ancient Forest has its ways of vengeance."

A timid young Fae raises his hand. Erthyr Maenyri, the youngest Faeling of the village's sagesmith, has a mournful face and an uneasy expression.

"What if some of your ancestors are Marsh Elves?" he asks nervously.

"The Forest, to my knowledge, does not punish the innocent." Ethelia assures him. "Many Fae of Kinaria are descendants of races we once allied with before the War of Fae began."

"Any Marshborn mongrel would be cast into the Gloomveil if we had decent leadership." the gruff baritone of Kiruve DeLaeve grumbled.

The Esperian Fae are an unusual brutish mutation of the race, rumored to be result of the Goddess Tree's brief dormancy in winter. Kiruve has stark white alabaster skin with pearlescent scales weaved in coils along his limbs. His eyes are completely deep crimson, quite unsettling as they appear like gleaming pools of blood. He has the opulent trained manners of a Kinarian Fae but the boorish instincts of a warrior race. His massive, muscled arms make him look far older than his 15 years as did his towering height, easily toppling the tallest Fae at over 7 feet. Ethelia had to magick a desk and chair large and sturdy enough for his abundant physique.

"Weren't Esperians once perceived to be mongrels, Mr. DeLaeve?" Ethelia asks.

"They mistook our strength as a compensation for lack of intelligence." Kiruve explains.

"And yet perceptions of a tyrannical court can be swayed if influential enough. That is why we must value unity among our people, regardless of our lineage. Each one of our lives is etched upon sagerock, your birth, your very conception recorded upon the stone."

In a flash of light, she conjures an effigy of the mentioned sagerock, an etched tapestry imbued with the ancestries of Fae families. The effigy is translucent, only a ghostly image of the actual sagerock. The authentic records are kept in the Ancestors' Vault, a vast marble tomb secured by imperturbable ward magicks.

"Today's lesson is at its end. On the next moonrise, we shall examine more aspects of the Living Forest. You are dismissed." Ethelia says.

Rionyr appears before her with fiery eyes. Ethelia eyes him shrewdly and magicks his vocal cords back into place. He coughs and tests his voice.

"I shall inform my elders of this." he rasps.

"No doubt with your usual disregard for authority." Ethelia states tersely. "Do tell your father of your apparent disdain for his kingship. I'm sure that will win the court's favor upon your rise to the throne."

The students clear out of the makeshift classroom. Ethelia vanishes all of the desks and chairs. She sits before the Goddess Tree, her palms to the roots. The warmth of the Tree's blessing fills her like honeyed mead.

"You are in grave danger, my Goddess. Tell me what your Forest requires. I cannot give much but my faith." she prays.

The Goddess Tree does not speak in words, but through swirls of color, light, and heat. Ethelia has learned to commune with the trees through decades of study from the Wise Fae. The Tree tells a story with black tendrils, blinding blue light, and burning heat.

Once, the Forest had lived in harmony, sustained under the light of the Goddess Tree. But war besmirched the lands of Kinaria and a creeping, black moss threatened to swallow the Forest. The Kinarian Fae battled the corruption, defending the Forest from usurpers who would pillage it. From the Wise Fae, they conjured a great winged beast formed from blue flames and smoke. The summoned Wyvern torched the settlements that sought to claim the Forest for themselves.

Ethelia worries as the meaning rings true.

"The Wise Fae are hundreds of years old. They are addled by age. We do not know who assumes their place upon their deaths. Our kingdom wages war rather than protects this Forest."

For the first time, the Goddess Tree sends a brutal chill through Ethelia's bones. It isn't an admonishment.

It is an omen of the future if the Forest is conquered.

Fantasy

About the Creator

CD Turner

I write stories and articles. Sometimes they're good.

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Comments (1)

  • Flamance @ lit.3 months ago

    Congratulations 🎉 top story

CD TurnerWritten by CD Turner

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