A Bestiary of Gushémal

Section 2: Beastly Races

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Bestiary

Table of Contents

Preface

Section I: Sapient Races

Section II: Beastly Races

 

 Elftree

“Luck it is to see an elftree, that it is what we druids say. The majestic growth, the rich green leaves of its living top boughs, the maze of trunks at the bottom, what a magnificent proof of nature’s grace and inventiveness! In the time before the Elven Flood, it was confined to the Aionios Dasos, the elves’ Eternal Forest; the flood released its seed to the rest of Gushémal and blessed us with its beauty. But rare they are. A man might walk for months through the richest forests yet never see the sanctified branches of an elftree.

“I dream of one day finding the seed of an elftree, that I may nurture it and watch it grow. What a wonderful moment it must be to see the day when the sapling’s first bark dies and hardens beyond steel’s strength. To see then how fresh roots reach down from the higher boughs, angling along the ridges and grooves of the first trunk, until the new roots burrow into the ground and thicken to twice the original’s size before hardening themselves…

“Oh, yes, I know that I could not dream of living beyond that second stage, for the elftree grows slowly. Look at an elftree as tall as a hundred men on top of each other, and you look at more than a millenium of our history. The dozens of intertwined, hardened trunks, they are telling their own tale, like the lineage of humans and other races.

“May you be blessed with the sight of an elftree, may you understand the grandeur of these wonderful trees! May luck be with you!”

Elgohr
Head Druid of the Typa Sect

 

“Bloody druids have no idea what an elftree really means. Beauty? Eternal Forest? Sanctity? Bah! It’s wood! Ye cut it, ye build with it, an’ ye make weapons with it.

“T’me, it’s the finest work of art t’see a sword of elftree wood. A one that tells ye a master crafted it. Don’t think one of ‘em ordinary wood cutters could dream of making a good weapon from elftree, though. They might manage a stool or perhaps a table, never a blade good’nough t’cleave a steel shield! Takes a real smith, a dwarf with experience, t’do that, an’ only a good master smith can work fast enough t’suit the quickening wood.

“For y’see, cutting the fresh elftree is easy. But when it dries, it gets harder and harder until no hammerin’ is gonna change it, an’ no fire can harm it. All ye have is a week, an’ ye must work day and night, with nary a rest afore ye’re finished.

“Once ye’re holdin’ the weapon in yer hand, ye know that it’s a masterpiece. The blade ye’ve always dreamed of makin’, the one ye’ll never wanna part with. The one ye keep tellin’ yerself will pass on to yer eldest son an’ forever be wielded in yer family. That is what makes the elftree so special. Ye’ve never seen a sword until ye’ve seen one made from an elftree!”

Hakla Ankoch
Master Weapon Smith of the dwarven Mt. Arth

 

 

“An annotation on the elftree that I hope you will also include in your work, dear Lestrovar. Reading through the notes you have given me so graciously, I have seen that your druid acquaintance speaks about the rarity of elftrees. As I recall, the Typa Sect is concentrated in the southern area of Ibrollene, therefore I attribute Elgohr’s limited knowledge to his location. The further you walk into the warm north, the more plentiful you will find elftrees.

“Granted, even in my native Chazevo are they far from a common sight, but there are enough to make you wary. For the local emperor dragons have found elftrees to be the perfect nisting spots. I’m sure your druid will be turning livid should he read this – and I must admit some amusement at the thought -, since the female dragon will burn the living branches of the top away with her flame and thus create a bowl in the trunk, at least fifty feet above the ground. The bowl, of course, is made up of the dead and non-flammable wood of the original trunks. It is usually large enough for the dragon to lay its three to five eggs a mating season and raise the little beasties. They can’t burn their nest, while the mother dragon has an excellent view of the surrounding area and any prey nearby.

“If the name elftree weren’t already established, I’d rather call it a dragontree.”

Sage Demercur Ylvain
Academy of Science, Chazevo