Leonus Elderborn knew something was wrong as he left the cabins of the Elderborn clan, hidden within the upper reaches of the Elder trees. This was the band that was once the heart of the forest, now it was the entirety of it. Split off from the greater part of the Wolvenlande grove, these trees were struggling. There simply weren’t enough Wandborn – Carvers as the Ari called them – to repopulate the groves. Four Million of them had tried, healing the earth by the use of Envrese. The Chosen had poured their lives into the earth to regenerate some of the ecosystems the former Ari societies had killed. They were now privileged, The Holy Elements allowing them to give their bodies to the trees after their power and lifeforce was burnt from them. The few remaining Wandborn had gone out to find their bodies to start the Tree Song. The final rite for Wandborn who died in service to the clans. They’d be sprinkled with the ashes of their wands and the seeds of their clans and much like a funeral by fire, their bodies would be devoured. This time not by flames but by the growth of – often – a pair of trees. The number would always be the number representing their most significant acts.
Watching tree songs was the most surreal and holy experience. Seeing someone you knew and loved turn into a Holy tree, its fruits providing for all those in attendance; it’s leaves evergreen. The Ari however did not understand that only love would facilitate something so beautiful. They sought to strengthen all human connections, which would mean that the dead, would find life again in the trees. These acts strengthen the Holy Elements which in turn boosted the Earth’s life force, pushing back the wave of destruction – all of it the result of the Ari sins.
The Wandborn clans were nothing like the Ari tried to make them seem; they saw the act of cutting a tree down as blasphemy, a betrayal of some sacred duty. This same bunch of newly reformed gardeners had wrought this very calamity and did nothing but hunt their redeemers.
The Wandborn saw the bonding as an act of love, there was more to it than cutting down a tree. For the Wandborn each child was allowed one tree. They would roam all clan holds to pick it; tasting the fruits of those that bear them; feeling the bark; sewing the seeds, building beds from the leaves; weaving from the vines of those that produced them. They would learn to support the trees and to live in harmony with them; for the trees are there to provide and for this reason they give their bodies back to the trees. The trees were the children of the Holy Elements and as such were hallowed in the eyes of the Wandborn. All of the Wandborn wished to ascend, to commune with the Holy Elements in Bliss – the quiet state of peace found in being Sung into nature. Their bodies were of the trees. Their spirits strove towards reaching Bliss, so they were desperate to be returned to the trees.
Yes, their wands were a part of what gave them the power to do that, so each would be given one tree’s heart to harvest. However to fell another tree after your wand was formed would be sacrilege. Felling a tree was sacred in and of itself, as you worked and sung the most remarkable thing would happen sometime after you were finished – the tree would begin to sprout anew. A sapling would begin to grow from the fallen tree’s core. Your life was the tree’s life, your magic that of the tree as well. For every year you used that wand that tree would grow with amazing speed.
However as Leonus stood on the landing of his small tree home, staring at the elder stumps and seeing the slightest wilting of the harvested Elders he knew something was wrong… In fact beyond that, he knew the trees to be mourning: Panth and Cloudia had been found by the Ari, by the Growthsbane, the Hunters of the Wandborn, the true watchers of the trees. He took flight, enraged, poisoning the ground with his bitterness; like an Acacia of old preparing to shed seeds. He would alert the Brothers of the Songs – Wandborn priests – that Cloudia and Panth needed singing. After that duty was fulfilled he would find the Ari scum who murdered his brothers.
Packing a bag, woven from vines and sewn layers of leaves, he put on two of his bangles, only a portion of his power would be needed. The other four he put in with his supplies, rather safe than sorry. He painted a stripe of red across his eyes, the sign of fury, no member of the clan would intervene once they saw it. He would be forbidden to speak to anyone -save the Brothers of Songs – as he left.
The Ari had many misconceptions which the Wandborn were expected to forgive. Did a tree hurt the wind which tried to uproot it? Did a tree fight the Wandborn singer who sought to Bond it? Did a tree fight Carving? No. However a tree did stand tall when all this was done; a tree did deprive those who killed its brethren of fruit. Whoever had murdered his brothers would miss the sweet taste of forgiving fruit, he swore it.
The two Brothers who would be singing Panth and Cloudia waited for Leonus, and at his appearance began mournful cries of the Deathsong.
There maybe another song yet to sing; and Leonus thought it will not be mine!