The Blooming Trees
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As the dusk fell I grew weary of the yells and the constant toasts, and took to the back alleys of the city, my footfalls echoing between the silent buildings. All too quickly, it seemed, they had forgotten the price they, and I, had paid for this celebration. I know now that all too soon would come the endless Remembrances, the long hours in which we spoke of the dead, their lives, their deeds, their thoughts. But at that time, the joy had seemed gaudy, and I could not appreciate the sentiment behind it. I wandered onward, the silence only broken by my footfalls, and the occasional whispered words between a pair of lovers, or the hissing of an angered cat. In the distance, raucous laughter echoed, good cheer made hollow by the brick and stone that surrounded. I did not consciously realize the path I was taking, so long it had been since my feet, smaller then, had wandered back here after a long day of study. Soon I stepped out into an empty lot, the buildings on either side seeming to lean in to inspect the blackened remains of their brothers. I strode through the wreckage, the moonlight casting a pale glow over burnt timber. It was only when I saw the sign, half buried in the muck and mud, that I realized what this place was. My home, so long ago, now an ancient ruin.

Looking on the wreckage of what was once my entire world, I thought back to when my father had bundled me up in the night to a loaded wagon. I had waited inside while he had a fierce conversation with the neighbors, who wanted to know why he wouldn't just give me up. After all, no one would blame him for leaving his half-breed son. I shall never forget the look on his face, a mixture of fear at the very idea of me being in the hands of the Thalos guards, and rage, at the very idea that he was cowardly enough to abandon me. The neighbors drew back, startled at the look on his face, a simple shopkeeper's usually pleasant face transformed into an expression more suited to a Vaarlean berserker. Without another word, he got into the driver's seat, and with one last glare at the neighbors, and a softer, more longing one at our home, he drove off.

Thinking on it now, with the perspective of age, it was no wonder that he lied to me. I was but a child then, and he did not want me to take the blame of our leaving on myself. So he lied. We were on a vacation, he claimed. We were to see the world. I can only imagine how my excitement might have hurt him, to know that I had been so eager to leave our shop, and the muttered whispers and harsh glares of the city around it. It was most likely to distract me that he told me of the trees lining the road.

I was spell-bound by his tale. The trees had no name, for they were so massive and so well known, that one merely had to say "the trees outside of Ern", and everyone in the room would know what you were talking about. They were a comforting sight, their bare branches and grey bark as familiar as the backs of my hands. They were old, older than the city, possibly older than all the cities. And they had not always been bare. They bloomed, with blossoms the size of a man's head, but only when an event of great importance was occurring. He went on, to tell me of the legends of those who came to Ern, and made the trees bloom in response to their very presence. So wonderful were his tales, that I did not notice his worried looks back whence we came, nor the darkening circles around his eyes as we pressed on.

I wondered then, if he had known that I would someday return to Ern, at the head of a great army, fresh from the war to take it. That I would make the trees bloom with my passing, and that the city would open its gates to me out of fear and respect for the man I had become. And as I stood in the ruins of our old home, I wondered if I too, would be a legend.

- From the Journals of Tenar the Elder, found in a bookshop in London. The proprietor of the shop claimed to have found them on his doorstep. Added into the Codex by an unknown member.

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