The Mahood Euwen (plural Euwen, Euwens or Euwen Trees) is a tree that grows mostly in very old forests. Having a long lifespan and growing to great height, the Mahood tree is an imposing sight. A whole forest of these magnificent trees is truly a sight to behold, a rare sight one must add, for in the whole continent of Southern Sarvonia, few places remain where the Mahood Euwen still flourishes.
The Mahood Euwen grows to a size uncommonly large for any tree; it will usually
reach 40 peds within several centuries of its life. With the maximum height of
45 peds reached, the tree is fully grown, and will grow no more save sideways,
and in the crown. The Mahood Euwen reach an enormous age: There have been claims
of trees being sighted in deep forests which were estimated to be significantly
more than a thousand years old. That is in stark contrast to the mere Euwen,
which will reach at most 30-35 peds, and will live for a period of four hundred
years or less.
The Common Euwen and the Mahood Euwen are the same, regarding their origin. They are both the same species, but they have adapted to different climates and grounds. The word Mahood in fact is a truncated version of Styrásh már'hoodán (már'hoodán), "water soaking". This translation already shows that the Euwen has a well-nigh insatiable thirst, and it will flourish best on very wet grounds. In such places it will dig its roots deep into the earth, and grow to the astonishing size and age that is typical for these trees. The following descriptions deal with the Mahood Euwen unless otherwise stated, though some of the properties are common for both the Euwen and the Mahood.
The Mahood Euwen is now very rare throughout the world of Caelereth, and few places are still a natural habitat. Its growing conditions are unusual for a tree in that it dwells only in the shade and in cold regions. Direct sunlight and heat withers it. For that reason, the tree grows to great height, and its crown interlocks with that of the surrounding Euwen, forming a thick, impenetrable and almost roof-like forest ceiling, which allows next to no light to pass through to the ground. Inside a Euwen wood, a murky twilight atmosphere is prevalent, if not total darkness in places of extreme density. This also protects the younger, growing Euwen from the sunlight that is so harmful to the tree.
A Euwen Tree in general has a long, smooth and straight-growing trunk, which is of a dark brown color and rarely covered by moss, since the bark is too hard and not crenellated enough to provide good growing conditions for symbiotic plants. The crown of the tree is flat and broad, and interlocks so thoroughly with that of its neighbors that the separate tree tops are well-nigh indistinguishable. The tree has absolutely no branches and leaf growth below its crown, causing it to look eerie and unnatural, like a pillar rather than a tree. A forest of Mahood Euwen is a unique and impressive sight: The eternal darkness makes it look like a vast hall with high pillars. The absence of sunlight allows moss to thrive on the ground, so that the forest floor resembles a soft carpet. The writer of the epic concerning the legend of Eyrin Fontramon, describes the impression of a journey through the Thaelon Forest - one of the few remaining Euwen woods - as follows:
"If one enters a Mahood forest for the first time, the impression is indescribably overwhelming, for it is like unto entering a vast, extended hall, whose ceiling seems to be carried by numerous imposing wooden pillars, and whose ground is so soft it could easily be mistaken for a velvet carpet. For it is one of the unusual habits of the Euwen to sink their roots, thirsting for water, deeply into the ground, so that the grown trunks look like artificial posts rammed into the ground, the more so since for the inattentive observer they seem to sprout upward into the sky without any means of support. What makes this image even more unusual is the fact that the Mahood Euwen often reaches a towering height that strike the observer with dizziness. The grown trunks are often fully bare of leaf or branch to 25 peds of its height; however, they will finally begin to sprout leaf - as soon as they feel the warmth of day through the growth above them - and they will grow into the thicket that protects them from the light. The tops of the Euwen will oft times veritably grow into each other, and are so thick that well-nigh no sun beam will be able to penetrate to the ground."
-- "Avaesthoría. The Book of Paths", edited by Artimidor Federkiel, New-Santhala 1651. Chapter IV: Darkengrove, p. 45.
most notable is the changing atmosphere in a Euwen wood throughout a year. In
spring, the golden, sweet-smelling spores, and occasionally a sunbeam through
the leafs in the less concentrated areas, will make for a light and gladdening
atmosphere. In fall and winter, the woods will grow very dark and murky. Euwen
are decidious trees that will shed their leaves in winter, but the branch growth
will still obscure the sky and the wood will have a melancholic mood. The most
significant impression of the Euwen, however, has been that of timelessness; it
has been called a monument to immortality, the breath of eternity.
Territory. The demanding growth conditions of the Euwen greatly restrict the lands it thrives in. The tree requires cold and shady surroundings and prefers moist earth. For that reason, it only grows in some parts of Northern Santharia. Its most prominent and famous habitat is the Thaelon Forest, the largest wood in all of Sarvonia. In fact, the forest has its name from the Euwen tree that grows there, for the term "Thaelon" is derived from the Styrásh "Táe'lón" (Táe'lón), which means "covering wood". The wood is named thus because of the dominant Mahood population, which, as mentioned previously, will form a roof-like barrier against the light, completely covering the forest.
It must be noted that in such places of dense Mahood Euwen population the tree will grow in a close, almost symbiotic relationship with the silken moss, which covers the entire floor of the forest to form a soft carpet-like structure. The silken moss thrives in moist and shady climate, and therefore grows in abundance in Mahood Euwen forests.
Usages. There are two ways in which this magnificent tree is used. The first is the more mundane, and it is described briefly in the Reproduction section of this text. Namely, the tree procreates through spores, which are released in large quantities during spring. These spores, for some reason, have a sweet, almost honey-like flavour, which is used as an extremely expensive sweetener in sweetmeats and pastries. The spores are very valuable in all of the lands of Santharia; however, the spores are hard to collect due to the great height of the branches with the spore buds that need to be covered with bags.
The other 'usage' can hardly be called thus, for no part of the tree is taken. Many of the greatest poets and writers have asserted that the atmosphere of a Mahood Euwen wood induces calmness, serenity and inspiration, and is a veritable ointment for the soul. Some of the most famous poems and songs have their origin in the Thaelon Forest that poets find so inspiring. The supposed existence of the light elves may also add a good deal to the mysticism of the forest.
Reproduction. In early spring the tree produces scaly greenish buds the size of a man's cupped hands, sprouting from the joints and cups of every branch and limb. These buds swell over the course of a week or so and with favourable weather conditions (warm, dry, and windy) will veritably burst open, releasing clouds of tiny golden spores; it is a stark contrast what tiny seeds this vast tree will grow from.
The spores are miniscule and powdery, like flour or pollen. They have a soft 'honey' scent and a richly sweet flavour. In a good-sized stand of spring-ripe Mahood Euwen, the air will almost turn hazy with Euwen-spores, and one must be careful not to breathe in too much of the intoxicating sweetness. The spores can be collected by placing bags over the ripening buds in the spring, but due to the height of the trees and their increasing rarity, even a scup's worth of Euwen-spores is very pricy.
Generally they are only used now in making the breath-freshening icemilk potion, and in sweetening the most delicate and expensive redberry pastries destined for the court or other noble tables.
Myth/Lore. Quoted from the same work as earlier, the following has been said about the Euwen in the Avaesthoría:
"Many have pondered about the unnatural contrariness of this tree, and especially about the Euwen's obvious aversion to sunlight; however, nobody has so understood it. Common belief among some elven tribes even calims that the dark mirror image of the First One, housing in the deeps of this world, has possessed, corrupted and perverted the souls of the plant, in order to mock to scorn the light even in its own natural realm, and that the Thaelon is therefore a sinister place. But in the murky semi-darkness of the Mahood forest, gloom, sadness, and horror are not to be felt - to the contrary: The velvet-soft moss plants that cover the earth make it a veritable pleasure to walk through the wood bare-footed, feeling the slight film of rain and breathing the cool, refreshing forest air. It may be true to say that the Euwens will easily inspire a wistful, gloomy atmosphere, when the constant semi-darkness of the wood blocks out even the brightest sunshine; but walking among the Euwen will quickly alleviate the mood and fill the heart with the vibrant joy of life. And it is certainly not for nothing that the poets, bards and minstrels hold the few select places, where the Euwen trees still thrive, to be sacred ground, for they have served since the days of yore as wonderful places for inspiration and devotion to the muses:
For where the Euwens proudly stand,
There I shall rest as well.
Though all the years shall pass like naught,
Should Soul upon that dwell?
When darkness reigns, grow Euwens high;
Murk withers not this tree
Likewise I shall, when death is nigh,
Embrace it fearlessly.
If Joy and Fortune, Luck and Bliss,
Shall mark the path I see,
Or Mourning, Fear, and Loneliness,
It matters not to me.
Only there where Euwens spring
At Home am I; my song I sing,
Lightly saying, 'Mè nón' (*),
In sweet and cloudsoft Darkengrove,
the ineffable Thaelon."
-- "Avaesthoría. The Book of Paths", edited by Artimidor Federkiel, New-Santhala 1651. Chapter IV: Darkengrove, p. 45 f. Poem quoted from Meowin: "Returning Home" in "Voyage to the Clouds", 670 a.S.
As can be seen from the
except and the poem, the Euwens instill a feeling of
serenity, indifference, and almost stoic calmness in the beholder; but at the
same time they fill the wanderer with joy and life. The Mahood Euwen is, for
that reason, closely linked with vitality and health; their vicinity is said to
heal soul and body - one of the reasons for this is probably the misconception
that the tree "resists" the
darkness while other trees die in it. Far from this, the tree actually
flourishes only in darkness, so "resistance"
is hardly a term that can be applied here.
In the lore, the Euwen Tree is also related to the concept of immortality, a result of its long life span, and the old myth that the Thaelon, the most notable Mahood forest, contains a settlement of the legendary Axhaí, the first elves or the light elves. Though that is most probably only a garbled legend, there have been hints of its truth in history; the most prominent acclaimed contact with these elves is put down in the tale of Katya Dragonseeker. In any case, true or not, the quiet atmosphere of the Mahood woods creates a strong aura of timelessness that gives an occasional wanderer the feeling of being mysteriously shifted back in time to the days when Caelereth was yet young. It is little wonder the trees have been described as inspiring by poets, for they are so in every respect, inspiring both awe and creativity.
Information provided by Arancaytar Ilyaran