A Small Story

PUBLIC NEWS #316
Date: 1/17/2014 at 9:17
From: Galrion, Sworn of the Light
To : Everyone
Subj: A Small Story


To my Northern cousins, and whomever else of consequence,

I have a small story I would like to share with you all. While I know these words will be lost on many and dismissed by many more, it is my hope that they reach the hearts and ears that need them most.

---

This is the story of a tree. It began as all trees do, but a small seed that took root in a quiet glade deep within the Elvandar. But this tree was a Great Tree, and he who planted it a Swordmaster of unparalleled skill and unwavering courage. He revered and treasured his little sapling, and each day he tended to it, singing the song of the forest and clearing the space around it so that it might grow to become a bonded companion worthy of his own prowess.

And grow it did! Oh, how it grew. A bit more each day it grew, tall and broad and healthy, sturdier than any oak ever was. But as it grew, the Swordmaster observed that a dark shadow spread across that tranquil glade. He wondered at this omen and its meaning, and he worried, he worried at its significance. And so he sang more fervently to his beloved tree, and it grew and grew and grew some more.

But as it grew, so too did the darkness. In time, the tree grew such that its mighty reach stretched to every edge of that peaceful glade deep within the Elvandar, and yet...so too did the shadow. No sun pierced those lofty boughs, and birds fell into a hush at the ominous gloom beneath the Great Tree. And so the Swordmaster despaired, that the perfect place he had chosen for his companion might be corrupted so.

And in his desperation, he sang and sang and sang, and his tree grew further still, until it grew so tall its crown would go unseen, and so broad it stretched out to the edge of the sea. And one day the Great Tree looked to its partner and it said, 'Why must we keep growing so? Are we not large enough?'

But the Swordmaster shook his head adamantly and said 'No! No, we are not enough! We must be more...' And the tree shook its leaves in bewilderment and asked him 'Why?' and the Swordmaster merely pointed. He pointed down at the ground where the Great Tree cast its shadow, and so dark and looming a shadow there never was. 'We must be stronger and larger than the shadow, so that we might vanquish it and bring the Light back to your glade. So you will be safe.' And so the tree relented and the two continued to grow and grow, but no matter how they tried it seemed the shadow grew too!

And one day when the Great Tree was so large and so grand it stretched its boughs across the sea and even further, the Swordmaster looked down at the shadow cast over all the Elvandar and all the people and home he ever knew, and he looked and looked and at longest last, his vantage point perched within the branches of his tree was such that he could follow its every line and curve and plane. And so he traced that somber darkness to its vile source with his gaze, and he knew. He knew.

'What have I done?' he cried. 'I cast my land in darkness...no tree ever grew without the sun's life and love, and this...it is no longer here. There is only weakness in its wake.' And as he sat in the boughs of his Great Tree, looking down at the shadow he cast that smothered and strangled all the land as far as he could see...

There are two endings to this tale. In the first, the Swordmaster looked down upon his world with disdain, affronted by those paltry trees that could not grow as he had. He sneered and scoffed at them, mocking their feeble efforts as tender shoots reached toward a sky he blocked from their grasp, and he reveled in their misery as they strived and failed and withered and died. And those he did not mock, those that might have grown even as he had, he ground beneath his boot. Perhaps in spite, perhaps in fear that the shadows they might cast may one day block the sun from his own tree, perhaps merely in accident, by simply shifting his own weight, as those so large as he are wont to do.

In time, the very ground beneath his own tree ran dry of nutrients, unfed by mulch or old growth, as there was no new to sustain it. And rot, it is a subtle thing, insidious in the extreme. It began in the roots, and so far removed from them was the Swordmaster that he never knew, he never glanced down as it traveled down those eldritch roots until at last they released their grasp and he and his tree toppled to the ground...there is a saying about height and the falls we take.

But in the other...he wept. He wept for the other trees that might-have-been were it not for him and his need to grow larger and larger yet. And as he wept, so too did his Great Tree, it wept seeds that scattered on the breeze. But some of them made it to the ground, and they struggled beneath its shadow. The Swordmaster's tears fell like rain upon them, and some of them...some of them failed to take root, cast in shadow as they were. But some of them, some did. Some took root, and they lifted tender shoots to the gentle rain.

They did not know it was not rain they felt. And as they grew, they looked up, and they said 'Where is the sun? We see only points of light up in the sky, through such a canopy above...' But those little points of light, as meager as they were glimpsed between the boughs, they were enough. Like candles in a darkened room or stars, so far away.

And so bathed in tears and fed in shadow, even then more Great Trees bloomed. Perhaps none quite so...much as the first. And each one cast its own shadow, aye, and they were vast and many...but so busy were those Great Trees looking up in wonder at the stars so far above that never once did they bow their crowns and learn to fear the darkness down below.

---

They say that with great power comes even greater responsibility, and this is of course quite true. Sometimes, the greatest display of power is in restraint, and this becomes more and more true as the power we wield increases. Far be it from me to council another, especially in the use and application of such power, and so I will not. I will say only this: that every day, I sing to one of the trees here in Elvandar with all my heart in the hopes that perhaps, in time, it might grow again.

In hope of good health,
Galrion


Penned by my hand on the 10th of Yamiev, in the year 55.