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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 118 — Threads: 19
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Inactive Character

My father and I were both born beneath trees.

Eik was born between a mighty oak tree. “The tree that birthed the world,” is what he called it. I never took that for a fact, but it was as good a story as any. I don’t know where this understanding came from, but for as long as I can remember I understood clearly how myth was born. Sometimes I even dreamed of fashioning myself in this way. I saw how a spark of truth could take to flame, and how easy it was to find and nurture an ember. I could be a myth, if I wanted. Or a fable, a fairytale, a god. I sat on this knowledge, a dragon with her gleaming treasure. I bided my time. I was always so very patient. It might be because I had oak roots in my heart, taken hold from a cutting of my father’s.

Avesta and I were born beneath the church tree on the shores of Vitreus Lake. It was storming, and the glass leaves danced together like windchimes. A summoning song. Perhaps even a battle cry. That night the thunder was more of a feeling than a sound, a fist slamming into the ground and wiggling up my fragile little bones. Tearing hairline cracks into them where roots would take hold. I had church tree roots in my heart, and their eternal leaves would be a rainbow of sea glass and song.

I always loved trees, for they felt like kin to me. I felt so privileged that I could hear their whispers, bits and pieces of their many stories. They were always so pleased to have an audience. Of course, I loved the ocean too, with all its fish and whales and sand, and I loved the earth, with all its dirt and mud and worms, and I loved the sky, with all its stars and clouds and colors. I was very drawn to the things so tragically considered “inanimate,” and for someone with roots in her heart I certainly had my head far far up in the clouds.

The day I met Cern was a day of firsts for me— although my life at that point was a never-ending list of firsts, so it wasn’t saying much. It was the first time I had strayed so far from home. The first time I met the great forest they named Viride. The first time I spoke to a tree. I was not very deep into the forest when I stumbled across him. Without sister by my side I was slow, painfully slow. I took the time to brush my muzzle or my shoulder in greeting against everything I met. And I met a lot of things. Trees, mostly, but also grasses, flowers, mushrooms (those I was wary of, and less likely to actually touch). Insects and small animals did not get close enough for me to touch, but we would look at each other with what I thought (maybe it was hope? In hindsight the two look so similar) was understanding. 

It was quite natural that we should meet in the birch grove, for I was wary as a deer and kept my distance from any discernible creatures equal to or greater than my size. I was not here for conversation. But he was not discernible, not when he did not wish to be. I almost ran into him, but I was not quite that oblivious. We met eyes, mine deep blue and his bright orange. I recall the way the steam rose from my lips when I said “oh.” It was fall, almost winter, and in my deep focus I had forgotten to be cold. “Um. Hi.” I did not think he would get me in trouble... but you never knew, when it came to adults, and I prepared myself to run.

a s p a r a


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My bones were fraught with marcescence.  The dying leaves of later summer persisted with me into deep fall.  No matter what wind, rain, or other weather terror, the itching accoutrements remained amidst all the mistletoe which prevailed greenly, and fervent in the chill of early winter.  A shake of the mighty head sent early birds asunder into the dewy hedges of the surrounding.  The great tree awakened at last and what a wake it was after a cold and frostbitten night.   Papery skin sloughed off in heeps with leaves which had fallen the night afore.  

The sun cut into the deep and dark woods, neon and shining, it poured over the storm sodden soil and made it glitter.  Cernunnos, ancient and new, whuffed quietly when the light reached out and touched him at long last.  Frost thawed, the land warmed, and the yarrows turned to gold as morning greeted them.  Even the bare patches of the forest filled with a rare and unusual green life for this time of season, Cern’s honeyed eyes could not help but look upon the beauty of sunrise, could not help but shiver silently over its good graces to him and to his family.  

Two birch atop his head swung back as he tipped his long, broad nose towards the sky.  Partly-cloudy.  The trees would thirst no more for sunlight, even in the partial exposure.  Naturally the horned forest spirit rose to his feet and began his journey towards the dell where he often drank in the gold of the day and the silver at night.  Three birds of varying sizes, all grey, white, and black, came to him, they too could afford to celebrate the day - all the while nitpicking through the piles of woolen hair in search of mistletoe berries.  Cernunnos did not mind them.

.. .. ..

Here in the deep, it is rare to be found, and it had happens so seldomly that Cernunnos has grown accustomed to never checking his surroundings.  Deep within the grove he is one of many - of hundreds - black and white brindled, laden with evergreen and birds, and so silent and so still that moths settle against his papery flesh.  Even the insects think nothing more of him than as a tree, for Cernunnos does not only look like one, but smells and feels like one as well.  His magic is strange and distinctly his, he can be no prouder than this very moment, when he is -yet again - identified as a part of the grove.

In a way, the child is right.

Oh.  Um hi.”

Roots grow over bone in the silence that follow, leaves and birds twitter in his hair, Cern moves at last when the unicorn speaks to him and lowers his head to her in quiet acknowledgment.  like a surreal dream, two trees atop his head, dip down with him, moths flutter off - and away, birds move from the lower limbs of his horns towards the upper branches warily.  The ancient soul blinks slowly and exhales a silvery breath into the cold. Mornings are his favorite.  Children are not.

“Welcome to the grove.  Now,”  Cern says at last, “ quiet.”  He does not mean to scold the little girl, and he is not unkind with his words either - just firm.  His reasons are not so obvious but when he gestures with his amber eyes, across the way from them, it becomes clear for her that if she is to witness the harem of deer moving into the wood, she will do as he says, and promptly.

“Here they come.”  Cern’s voice is but a whisper to the youth, he does not care to know her name or the reasons why she has come, and maybe that is what makes him selfish for wanting this moment.  A group of six deer, a mixed group between the ages of Aspara and Cernunnos, begin grazing amongst the yarrow.  One of the older few keep an eye out for danger, but when they meet Cern’s eyes an understanding occurs.  They know him, they have known him their whole lives, and Cern is delighted to see them again.

The deer are no ordinary animals by any means.  Tall, willowy like the birch trees (like Cern!) with horns that look to be made out of opals with coats that are sable and spotted white.  The sun traces them out in golds and prisms, they are as quiet as the coming of winter.  Against the greens and browns, nothing quite compares to them and instantly they become mystical in their own Rite.

“Generations upon generations, I have watched this family grow.  The one looking at us right now, with the white face - I know her - her name is Myrtle.”  He is consumed by the vision of them.  They bring him great joy.  These deer here are his friends, his family, his Viride.  They are everything to him, just as the finches that make homes in his branches, just as the moths that cling to him, just like the trees which keep him as their own.  Cernunnos, like the forest, is his own ecosystem, and little Aspara will be the first to know of it - of Him.

“Tell me, little sapling, what brings you here?  Where have you come from? — certainly not the soil like the rest of us.”  He laughs quietly, enough to shake the birds off of him into surrounding trees but not enough to startle the wandering deer (who appear to be creeping closer, and closer yet).  Cernunnos sees this and considers it a good omen, “ -- they trust you - you must have a heart of wood.”

@Aspara  Pardon the lack of html.

Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 118 — Threads: 19
Signos: 0
Inactive Character

Immediately after I spoke, I wish I hadn’t. For the tree replied in silence and grace, and it made me feel a fool. In my defense, it was society which conditioned me to greet others with words when only a nod of the head or a flick of the ears would do. I had always been ill at ease with that small range of sound they called speech, but at that time I did not quite know enough to stand on my own convictions. My thoughts and beliefs changed with the wind. For the most part I leaned toward the unconventional, but no so much that I had the confidence to wade against the current.

Birds and moths and bark flew from the strange man like dreams dissolving into waking life. I was not prone to following directions— quite the opposite, in fact, my rebellious little heart always eager for trouble— but the way Cern spoke, I listened. Just as I listened to the trees and rocks and mushrooms and all the silent world to whom I had the privilege of knowing as intimately as I did. However, I may have frowned a little. In fact, I probably did. I was not so good at hiding my emotions, in part because I did not care to, and I was not so pleased to be told what to do, even if I felt compelled to oblige.

I followed those orange eyes, ever wary of a trick. To my surprise they met a family of wood dwellers like none I’d ever seen before, moving with a quiet that bordered on silence.

Oh, I loved those deer. I would remember them fondly for many years to come. Their shy grace embodied all I ever wanted to be. And in their presence the grove was transformed into something like a church. Something sacred and wonderful. I was terribly out of place, a trespasser on some sacred rite, and I almost wanted to tear my eyes away but I found I physically could not.

I eventually felt a burning in my chest— and only then followed the realization I had been holding my breath. I let it out achingly slow. It hardly made a sound as it left me.

I come from horses. A queen and a soldier.” Did I speak too softly for him to hear? I didn't care. “I was born in Denocte.” I turned my wide eyes to him. “I came to see the forest.” Really I had just wanted to go somewhere— anywhere at all— and Delumine seemed far safer than Solterra. I was always a cautious girl, especially when I was breaking the rules.

I felt a warm flush of pride rise in my cheeks and chest when he told me I have a heart of wood. No one had ever paid me such a compliment. In fact, no one I’d met would even realize what a compliment such a statement was. I smiled, proud and a little self conscious. “Thank you,” I said, even as my attention returned to the deer who grew closer. “Myrtle,” I tested her name softly on my tongue, like the first prayer to a new god. “What are the rest of their names, do you know?” I looked carefully at each of their faces, committing them to memory. “And you? What is your name? How long have you lived here?” I still spoke in a hushed voice. I think I wanted to always live in that reverent space, where everything was spoken just above a whisper. 

"What are you?" I asked finally, because the question begged to be asked, and for every answer I received, two more questions were born.

a s p a r a


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“When the rosette first emerges from the ground, it is proud and it is many.  When there is no fresher beauty about it, we call it Yarrow.”  

“And Myrtle, she is my mother.”  

“Once, long ago, I grew from her roots long after the harrows of the Del took her.”  The voice of a birch is a song that is distant and sorrowful.  Like wind through a dense but naked grove.  The despair has grown like brambles into the ancient echo of my memory, after winter has ripped the last of the foliage off of every branch in the form of hungry, desperate deer teeth. 

There is nothing I can offer the tiny pair of listening ears, but a glimpse into history so draconian it has slipped the reaches of the ancient libraries, has captivated the young heart who stands at my hearth.

The tale of the predative and somehow savage beginning which ultimately leads into the domesticated and civilized world that it has come to be.  When Gods were young, mortal, and primitive.  Young Aspara does not need my words to know it, the woods will tell her how it all came to be.  The trees will speak to any who will listen, for the surviving few that we are, know it all.  Although I am one of the first, I am not the last.  

Our deer move through black and white and black and white, it is so strange to see something so dark and differently shaped disappear within the sound of silence.  All my many eyes can see them, they can feel their shadows pass over the flickering peels of paper bark.  Like prey, the trees silence in their presence, but the deer’s black and white limmed lips strip away thick patches of dried bark from the easiest reaches.  Still, no sound comes of it.  Only the scattering of leaves marks their passing.

“You stand so still I can swear to the stars that I hear you growing roots.  Are you listening to the air around you? young heart of wood? Only the wind knows how to tell their names, their truth.”

And I know a thing or two about that.

Wiry roots creep out of my ears and sew themselves in and out of the papery flesh of my neck, they grow at night after I have had my fill of daylight.  Chlorophyll sustains me more than the grass between my toes. My ears grow round and curved in like the dead leaves on my tines, they flicker when a borer creeps out of them.  This is my magic, I grow tall and I grow strange.

“Once, not too long ago, I became unstuck from the ground.  Before the uprooting, my grove called me Duir.”  There was no possible way to remember the way my name sounds when I speak it.  No two airs breathe alike.  No two birds sing the same.  

And I know a thing or two about birds.

A coupling of nuthatch join us in the grove together, and like the deer, they are silent as they gather amber resin within the rills of my weeping boughs. They only titter over the closeness of each other, possessive of the gold that bleeds from my horns.  

My gospel has only just begun,

“When I first awoke in my skin, I was not in my grove.  I now came from a cedar which grew from the base of my grave.  The pine calls me Cernunnos now.” I have taken to looking at Aspara now, the deer warily move around us, the youngest and most brave dare to pick at the rummage closest to us.  They are so close that their smells mingle along the gentle breeze, sage and cedarwood, bergamot  and fresh rain.

“So a queen and a soldier,” I muse.  I know little about societal roles, but I know about bees, and I wonder then, “ - so your home is like a hive, then?  Is it not in the forest?”

@Aspara  1. Cold medicine makes for weird words. 2. Sorry that there is no layout.  O.O3

Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 118 — Threads: 19
Signos: 0
Inactive Character

If my heart was made, at least in part, of a tree-- if such a thing was possible-- then I must also have had wind in my veins and fire in the tiny hollow spaces in my bones.

(And my soul? Was it starlight or sun? Pure, endless oceans or a sea of dust?)

For the crisp breeze stirred me as though I were made of leaves. And the chill of late autumn washed over me, but it did not settle beneath my skin. My leaves did not turn colors and fall. I was not at all afraid. I know now that I had no reason to be, but at that place and time I was not thinking of danger or reason, or strangeness, or just how far I was from home.

I was listening.

I’m… trying to listen. To the wind. The earth. The trees.” My soul, will I recognize the sound of it when it calls for me? “To You.” I watch the beetles crawl from his ears, and the look in his eyes-- how to describe that look? Ancient, maybe. Timeless. I was not disappointed. Oh no, quite the opposite-- I was ecstatic, but in my slow quiet bitten-lip way, the way everyone else found so odd. The only hint of this was when I smiled, bright as the sun, tentative but unapologetic as a blooming poppy.

The deer came almost close enough to touch. I could smell them My breath rose in gentle trails of steam-- a constant reminder that I was not made of wood, or glass, or anything much more than blood, muscle, and porcelain white flesh.

I did not fully understand the tree-man’s story. But, I did not think that all stories had to be understood. In fact I always sort of yearned for the unknowable. The world was only made that much more beautiful by the mystery that shrouded it.

I… yes, like a hive in some ways, but not nearly so crowded.” I was not sure exactly how to describe it. “It’s near the ocean, on the other side of the mountains.” I gesture to it behind my shoulder with a flick of the horn, not that it really matters-- the Armas are not visible from behind the veil of the forest. “The city is made of stone, mostly, and dirt, and some wood. At night the markets come alive. Vendors from all corners of the world come to peddle their wares.

As a general rule, I didn’t ever talk this much. But Duir did not fit in to any rules that I knew. It made me feel like I should live outside the rules, too, even if just for a little while. “So, do you have a heart?” It did not occur to me that this question might be construed as rude. “Like, a real one. A beating one.” Understanding of most things came easily to me. But I still was not sure if he was a tree or a man, and my mind did not like things it could not wrap itself around. “Or a soul? What about that?” I realized as soon as I asked the question how absurd it was. I grinned anyway, toothy and unrepentant.

a s p a r a

@Cernunnos <3

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