THE MITHRIL BIRCH TREE

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Mithril Birchis perhaps the most elegant out of all Birch Trees. It has a shorter appearance than most other species, but also slender, sloping branches upon which cones dangle like precious ornaments. They have grayish-white bark adorned with V-shapes markings. The Mithril Birch can be found in forests all over Northern Sarvonia, though they flourish in the climates of the Shadowlands and the Shaded Forest.

Appearance. The Mithril Birch, a rather graceful tree, seldom grows higher than twelve peds, making it one of the smallest Birch Trees in existence. It has a grayish-white bark, for which it was named, that tends to be hard and sturdy. The layers of the bark, which typically peel in many other subspecies of bark, are close together and never peel, though they can be pulled apart and used as thick parchment paper. This outer layer of the bark is soft and can be easily scratched. Dark V-shaped patches appear on the bark just below the branches. The Mithril Birch possesses many distinctive qualities that make it unique among the Birch species. One of these distinctive qualities is the birch's foliage. These leavse are more arrow-shaped or triangular than most other Birch Tree leaves, and have a more jagged edge. They tend to be dark green or dark grayish green. The cones of these birches are usually rather small and hang down. One might relate them to worms because of their shape, they are about two nailsbreadths long, though when the cone opens the diameter of the cone goes from about two grains across to about a nailsbreadth across. The cones are more of a reddish color and hang down from the tree giving the Birch an elegant appearance.

The Mithril Birch is often portrayed in pictures and paintings as a sign of restful beauty and tranquility. Sometimes deer such as the starback or the Sarvonian white deer will accompany the tree in such paintings. In nature, these deer can also be seen around the tree, nibbling their deep, triangular leaves or finding shade amongst their foliage. Small birds will often use the Birch as a place to rest, as the slender branches tend to be easy to grip. However, because these trees are so delicate, few birds choose to make their nests in them.
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Territory. The Mithril Birch thrives in cold climate growing no farther south than the Hovel Frond Forest. They thrive in the Shadowlands and in the Shaded forest, but can also be found in the Wood Forest, around the Folkmore Trees, and in the Wounds of Sylvan. They can be found in the Themedílon Forest and even in the Cartashian Woods.
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Usages. The wood of these birches is used for making furniture, spools and other such materials. The wood is a very light brown, bordering on a light reddish or grayish brown. However, since the wood is soft, it can be easily scratches and for this reason, hardening agents are sometimes used to coat the furniture to make it more durable. These birches are used for firewood as well, which is usually in demand in the colder environments in Northern Sarvonia where they grow. However, because of the various other uses for this wood, only the unusable parts of the tree, such as the slender twigs and branches and knotted parts of the trunk, are used to feed fires.

The bark of the tree is often pulled apart into thick parchment paper that, though thick, is sturdy and lasts longer than most other parchment material. The bark of the tree is peeled off in thick layers, usually using a dull blade, and is dried. The white or grayish color of the bark will become darker and turn a slight brown. Sometimes the bark is treated with saps or pastes to make the parchment stronger and to make it last longer.

In the Southern Sarvonian regions some firmly believe that a scrap of Mithril Birch bark peeled from the living tree with a mithril blade, heated and moistened with bread, clay, or meal and spread over the abdomen will heal bellyaches, cramping, nausea, and even ease labour pains. However, because of the rarity of mithril blades, this old wifeís tale is rarely put to the test and none are quite sure if it is indeed true or not.
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Reproduction. See main Birch entry.
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Myth/Lore. The enchanting appearance of the Mithril Birch has given rise to a belief that strange yet beautiful maidens live within these trees. They are commonly called dryads. Their appearance and behavior is disputed, for while some say they have hair as green as the dark foliage that grow from this tree, others say their hair is white as the bark. Most agree that they have pale complexions and the elegantly pointed ears of an elf. It is said that, when the wind wanders through the branches of a Mithril Bbirch, you can hear the haunting song of the Dryad within the rustling of the leaves. They are claimed to constantly try to seduce young men:

"Within the forests at fading twilight
When sunís rays fade to gentle moonlight
They say the maidens of the mithril birch
Begin again their malevolent search.

With their faces fair as birch tree bark,
And glittíring eyes seen through the dark,
They sing in whispers with the breeze
Within the lulled and rustíling trees.

If a handsome traveler should happen to hear
Their beckoning songs, Ďt would appear
That his fate had grown gloomily grim
For these Mithril Maidens would call to him.

His pace may slow, his eyes may glaze
His mind should fall to misty daze
And his feet may lead him from his road,
And heíd journey unto their abode.

Seduced by their soft and melodious tone
The travelerís destiny from hereís unknown,
For once vanishing past forest tree and fern
All that is for sure is that he shanít return.

So if thou art upon a road at twilight
And thy path takes thee by a forest in moonlight,
Quicken thy pace and keep thy steps light
For the Mithril Birch Maidens may be out tonight!"
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