THE SILKEL TREE ("SILVER TREE")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Silkel Tree, also commonly called the Ilárol’pherán in Styrásh (Ilaról’pherán, "Silver Tree", sometimes also refered to as "Cáo fá Eú'reóll", Cáo fá Eú'reóll, or "Child of the Tree of Life"), is regarded as one of the most beautiful trees in all of Caelereth, and many believe it to be touched by a kind of immortal magic. Either its enchanting appearance, or perhaps its amazing healing powers, or maybe its inclination to grow in places touched by myth and wonder, lead to the belief that it’s a tree closer to ethereality than to corporeality. This sheen tree has a number of uses, many of them of medical nature. The tree is mostly known for its thread-like bark that can be made into silk, which is sometimes used to make cloth.

Appearance. Silkel Trees are known for their striking appearance. They are sheen, silvery, and, like the elves in whose forests they often grow in, seem to always be covered in a soft light. In spring and summer, their trunks and branches are a silvery-bronze color. The texture is stringy, as though the branches and trunk were made out of thousands upon thousands of tiny threads. Sometimes the thread-like texture is hard to see until the autumn, when the bronze color lightens to a striking silver and the outer threads of the tree are shed in thousands of small strings. These strings are harvested by tailors and seamstresses and treated into silk, which is used to make cloth. Under these silver strings lies another hue that has been called "white gold", The tree is silver-white, and appears ethereal amidst the snow.

The trunk is very straight and can reach a height of 6 to 7 peds in height. The branches reach out with a strong majesty, fairly straight before splitting into slender twigs. The form of the tree tends to be slightly rounded, forming a thick, light-clung canopy.

Leaves of the Silkel Tree are curved, slightly egg-shaped, with smooth sides coming up to an elegant point. The leaves are very soft but not paper, though they do have a delicate look to them. At the largest, they are a palmspan in length and about 6 nailsbreadth in width. The colored vary based on the season. In spring and mid-summer, thin leaves are a rich, golden green, which has a tendency to catch the light, be it sun, moon, star, or even candle. They always seem to be alight. Silkel Trees loose their leaves in late summer and autumn, but before falling, the leaves’ green fades and they turn a brilliant gold. Sometimes they are burnt into a golden red, but the color is always bright and magnificent.

The tree does not often form flowers, producing buds no more than one every 10 to 20 years, if that. Their rarity, however, is not all that makes the flower such a special sight to see. In the spring, if the tree is to bloom that year, buds will form on the tree, usually disguised by sepals of the same golden-green hue as the leaves. By mid-spring, though, the flowers will open in an elegant silver-white, powdered with gold from the pollen on its stamens. The flowers have carefully pointed petals each of which is about 4 to 6 nailsbreadths long. Petals come in sets of five. When the petals are fallen and the base is matured, seeds are formed. They come in bronze-covered shells that are typically 2 to 3 nailsbreadths in diameter. The nut inside usually has a silvery sheen, and tends to be very juicy and soft. These seeds fall with the falling leaves.

The Silkel Tree is believed to be one of the most mystic and beautiful tree in all of Caelereth.
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Territory. The tree’s territory is hard to define because, under a scientific eye, the tree seems to grow without any care of climate or soil properties. They grow commonly in elven forests all over Caelereth, but grow with especially high concentration within the forest of Thaelon. Many theorize that this tree grows around places touched by magic, not of Ximaxian definition nor clerical, but of something even more spiritual and profound. It is believed, thus that the tree grows in a place where the ethereal touches the realm of reality in some way, including the existence of mythological light elf spirits or the existence of those believed to carry their blood.

As previously stated, the Silkel grows with an amazing concentration within the forest of Thaelon. More Silkel Trees grow within that forest than any other in Caelereth. They grow well on Bolder and Quallian, as well as certain places in Zeiphyrian. They can sometimes be found in good amounts also in the Sharadon Forest and at times in the Auturian Woods and the Shaded Forest. They grow scarcely in the Paelelon, Hovel Frond, and other forests where dark elves make their home. Additionally they grow in varying amounts on other continents, as well. These trees tend to sprout up around the palaces where the Ránn and Rónn live, and especially near their graves.

Silkel Trees have also been known to grow on the graves of those believed to have some attachment to the ethereal world, whose spirit mimics the qualities of a high Ránn or Rónn. This, however, is extremely rare, having only happened on a few exceptional occasions. They can, at times, be found around the same grounds crystal grass occupies, but again, these occasions do not occur very often.
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Usages. The Silkel Tree has a number of usages, both medical and otherwise. Each part of the tree yields a different use.

The leaves can be taken in autumn when they’ve fallen from their branches and dried. If crushed and mixed into a tea, they will help with colds and pains, though the tea is known for making the drinker extremely sleepy. It is thus advised not to drink such tea until the evening when there can be plenty of time to sleep after the concoction is taken. It should also be noted that the leaf should not be harvested until after it has fallen from its maternal twig. There have been scores of cases that a leaf was plucked prematurely from its branch, resulting in throwing the drinker into a coma. More advanced healers are able to predict by the color and size of the leaf how long it will knock a person out, and are able to utilize this knowledge when they need to put someone out in order to help heal them in some fashion. Overall, the sleep is a gentle one, often full of pleasing dreams, and those that wake from it find themselves refreshed, renewed, and healthy.

Flowers have a variety of uses. Petals are known to achieve great healing, destroying deadly diseases and mending fatal wounds. They have, in rare cases, been known to cause miracles. The differences come in how the petals are treated and applied. For diseases causing rashes or outer sores, the petals are typically mashed into a fine paste and then applied to the irritated area. This has also been used to heal fatal gashes, and though the idea of applying a silvery-white cream may not be the most appealing idea, many who have received such healing reported feeling a warmth and numbness as the petals did their magic. For diseases of the mind and spirit, petals need to be dried and mashes into a fine powder. It is best to be ingested atop or mixed within some food easy for the stomach to digest. Soup is the most common choice, but other dishes have been used.

The flowers have been known to make miracles happen, though the recipes of these are yet unknown, or work too inconsistently to be printed. It has been recorded that these petals have healed the crippled and made blind men see. They aren’t guaranteed to work, though, and despite there being multiple cases where the magic petals have helped a man regain his lost sight or gave to a girl the gift of motion, there are more cases where they have done nothing at all.

Seeds are known for healing many problems related to fertility and reproduction. Midwives will, if they can get the seeds, take the juicy nut and work it into a cream, then warm it and apply it to the skin during contractions to lessen the pain. It is best if the cream is massaged gently into the skin around the mother’s abdomen to warm and relax the muscles. In some cases, this has also worked for menstrual pains.

Removing the nut from the shell, chopping it up, and adding it to food before eating it has been known to make infertile women able to bare children. While it doesn’t always work, as there is quite a large number of cases where it hasn’t, there is an even higher number of cases where it has, and thus blessed many women with being able to have children who normally wouldn’t be able to. The shell and nut can also help infertile fields as well. Both the shell and nut are ground up into a fine powder that is then spread over the field, usually in late summer. By spring, the soil is fertile enough to yield growth.

The most well known use of the Silkel Tree comes from its bark. In autumn, when the branches and trunks become a shiny silver, the thread-like pieces peel away and are collected by harvesters. The bark is treated in various kinds of concoctions and mixtures, including one that makes the strings very sticky and malleable so that the many individual pieces can be put together. When treated and dried, the strings look shiny white, though the strings, now silk, are often dyed in scarlets, cobalts, and purples. The thread is often woven into various pieces of clothing. The Maeverhim use the silk to make many of their clothing, and the Caltharians depend on the silks produced in the Thaelon Forest to support their production. They do some of the most impressive dying of these soft strands. Fabric made from this thread is highly sought after, especially by nobility.
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Reproduction. Silkel Trees do not reproduce often. Not only is the production of the seeds rare (occurring no more than every 10 to 20 years) but more than often the seeds never sprout. Also, trees tend to sprout in places where no seed fell or had ever fallen. The slow reproduction of the tree, however, doesn’t seen to dampen their numbers. Unless cut down or severely harmed in some way or another, the tree will never wither away or die. Because of this, Silkel trees, especially those living in the borders of Thaelon, are considered to be as old as Caelereth itself.

Seeds are the only known and explainable way in which these trees reproduce. In the spring of the year they are to bare seeds, they produce elegant blossoms. Their beautiful, silver-white flowers grace their strong branches all through the season, delicate breezes carrying their golden pollen to other Silkel flowers, thus pollinating them. When summer reaches its zenith, the petals drift down like snowy feathers through the warm air, and by mid autumn, when the leaves have turned a brilliant gold, what is left of the flowers turns to bronze-colored seeds. They fall with the falling leaves. Sometimes the seeds grow, but often they do not. Rarely do they go to waste, though, as elves and humans alike pick them up for their many uses.

These trees spring up in sometimes very unexpected places, strals and strals from any others. Some thing this is because birds and other migratory animals carry the seeds, or that the Silkel Tree is unique in that its very pollen can produce a tree, but most think it is magic that bids this tree to rise from the earth.
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Myth/Lore. Some people believe magic and myth are manifested through the Silkel, and thus, in paintings and stories touched by some myth or mystique, Silkel Trees dwell. Some believe that Silkel Trees show where the ethereal has touched reality, or that some light elven spirits take up residence in these trees. Some have even made up wondrous stories to explain their existence.

One of these stories involves unicorns and is told to Caltharian children of the east-Jernais region. It is told that long ago, unicorns were everywhere, grazing upon the grassy plains and galloping through the verderous forests. It is said that when the men came to cut down their precious forests, they were filled with sorrow, for while, it is said, they loved the humans, they grieved for the forest. They asked the light elves of the forest Thaelon to help them, to turn them into trees to replace those that were lost, and make them able to produce great gifts and blessings to the men so that they would never cut them down. The Astyrhim granted their wish, and they became great Silkel Trees, forever able to give gifts to men and brighten the sacred forests. Because of this myth, many Caltharians call silk "unicorn hair".

Still others remain true to the popular myth of the trees being created by light elves and their close kin. This story was told by an elven elder, Elear Tindome, of the Aellenrhim elves:

"A long time ago, as Avá was just beginning to dream and the earth and rivers were new, when Baveras’ gentle hand sculpted the oceans and lakes, and Urtengor had forged the moon, and life was sprouting for the first time, the Astyrhim were young. They lingered like careful candles in the forest, fingers shimmering, blessing the world with magic.

They watched the humans and elves grow, watched them live their lives and die. Invisible, untouchable, they smiled at the new lives. As the world aged, though, and Queprur bid plague and pain to trouble the world with tears, they saw mortals suffering. Disease covered their skin with sores and rashes. Colds made their eyes and noses red. Women screamed as children moved out from their womb. They turned cripple and blind, dressed themselves in itchy wool, and each night they lay themselves in the prickly hay to sleep.

It is said that the light elves cried to see such a sight, to see the humans and elves in such plight as this. They met together within the seclusion of the Thaelon Forest and decided to give a bit of their spirit to create trees that would brighten the world of Caelereth. These trees would lend aid to them, would produce medicines to cure their wounds, diseases, their cripple and blindness. They would help to soften the pangs of childbirth. It would fertilize both the fields and the womb.

And so the trees were created, blessing the world of mortals in a strong yet gentle light, and all close kin of light elves ever after, it is said, when their spirits return to the sky and the lakes, to the fire and the earth, may create a tree to bring light into an ever-dying world. That, little elflings, is how the Ilaról’pherán came to be."

It is commonly believed that children born within the blooming year of a Silkel Tree will be blessed.

The Silkel Tree, however, does not grow in just one place, and neither have the stories. In Aeruillin, it is believed that when all things had been created, Nakashi was so touched with joy of the fresh new world, so moved by the beauty and promise and hope, she cried, and from her tears sprung the Silkel Tree. In Nybelmar, it is believed during an ancient plague, a Kaýrrhem woman went down upon her knees and prayed for someway to cure those suffering. When she stood and threw her arms to heaven, the gods turned her into a beautiful Silkel Tree. The stories go on and on, but the air of mysticism and magic is there.

A number of poets and musicians have been inspired by the Silkel Tree and have written of the tree in stanza and verse.

"Beneath the first white star of morning gleams
A figure tall to touch the cobalt skies
With leaves of gold and branches draped in dreams
Takes cue from lowly earth in hope to rise.
In slender grace and gentle strength, in light
To shine away the winged shadows dark,
She makes the waning rays of moon turn bright
And guides its steps upon its ancient arc.
Through waxing sorrow, plague, through pain and tears
She glistens, cutting through despair and hurt.
In gifts of health she melts all ills and fears
And bids heart’s demons crumble into dirt.
And when the world seems caught in evil and gloom
She laughs then as her silver flowers bloom."

- Composed by Celenth Dyrmin, a wondering Helcrani Scholar, 1607
 

"When the morn coms and cok crows
Meet me whaer the Sylkel tree grows
And we wyll bow awer heds and pray
To sprowt whytte wings and fly away.

When the last won fals, when war ys done
And blud hath kolored the rysing sun,
When Innisents that no won culd sayve
Ly likke flauwers stroon on a grayve,
When doo coms yn a skarlyt hew
And no rein cann wash the world a-new,
When Aelyrels ar flone and starbacks fled
And there ys no room but for the ded,

When dysees drynks upon lyffe lykke wyn
And up-on all joys dos hard’ly dyn,
When mones thru empty streets reezownd
And all up-turned ys the grownd,
When yn plaeces whaer deth releevs
The rottyn aer’s too thyk to breeth,
When a mother has to bery her chyld
And there seems no way to be rekonsyld,

When the nytte coms and wynds blows
Meet me whaer the Sylkel Tree grows
And we wyll bow our heds to pray
Then close our ays and dreem away."


Composed by Fina Kenes, a peasant woman of Nyermersys, 546 b.S 
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