The Last Branch of the Tree
The Last Branch of The Tree - Lief Estel Origin
The Estel family were highly respected within the small town of Valeton, even though half-elves do not tend to find such respect in the realm of Theldan. With the pure elves all wiped out a thousand years ago, they are considered an oddity -- a clinging vision of the lands past. Valeton though was an odd, small town in the far reaches of Theldan that was home to many odd beings and creatures. The half-elves fit in nicely amongst those who were shunned, or thrown out by the normal society, in the bigger cities throughout Theldan.
Ildoon had three sons with his wife Sharn and, with each of them, he tried his best to help them find their calling. Lielton, the youngest, started his journey to become a scholar in the nearby city of Yevan, while Lanos became the master at arms quickly in the local camp of the Fallen Legion. But Lief Estel, the oldest, always a shame to his father, never seemed to find his place. He spent years working with the local druid, months learning to be a teacher and days brewing for an alchemist. Apparently, Lief did not enjoy working with plants, children or chemicals. The mundaneness of each day drew on him like a leech on his leg until he would move onto the next job his father lined up for him. Life for the Estels carried on like this for many years, with Lief being seen as the lost sheep of the family.
On his 45th name day, Ildoon awoke Lief with a blunt tap on his forehead. Ildoon stood there with a bundle of supplies amongst his arms including all the necessary supplies for a fortnights trip into the wildness nearby.
"My son, it's time for you to find yourself," said Ildoon as he extended his arms and the objects within. Lief looked questionably into his Fathers eyes that seemed lost of any emotion in such a moment.
"Do you think so little of me to cast me out, Father?"
Ildoon stood back tall and stared directly into his son's eyes weighing up his words and took a deep breath.
"You are..." the pause ticked over for a year in Lief's ears. The deafening silence that killed Lief on the inside that day.
"I know not what I am Father, beyond a disappoint to you and this family." And with that Lief stood and grabbed the supplies off Ildoon and headed out the door not looking back for a moment, for if he had, he would have seen the single tear rolling down Ildoon's face as his oldest son left Valeton.
For years Lief talked and drank his way across Theldan, his intrigue in the world and a good story grew. His sense of adventure was dependent on the morning, but he awoke sometimes with a sense of purpose, an enjoyment. Lief thought maybe with his newfound sense of adventure, and with the many stories he had, he could attempt being a poet, maybe an author -- he had grown fond of watching theatre, so maybe a playwright -- and so, he set out for home.
It was a cold windy spring day in Valeton. The last branch of the family tree was carelessly blowing in the wind. Lief lay next to it, his empty family home off in the distance. The Estels had moved on and he didn't know where his family had headed. They left no sign, nothing remained bare the tree he laid against. Lief let in a deep sigh, and the tree's remaining branches danced in the latest blast of wind -- and then, Lief heard his name called from the sky above, "Lief..."
Relkath of the Infinite Branches was a treant from the Fey, in the realm of Theldan this glade was his home, and it was Relkath that called out to Lief that day. As he watched Lief, he began to understand the small being that was laying in the middle of his glade -- a man lost, yet finally coming to see some potential in himself. Relkath took pity on the half-elf laying drinking in front of him that day. He could see something greater inside Lief than anyone had before him, and so Relkath called out: "Lief..."
Lief stood abruptly and again, he heard on the wind -- "Lief." It must be the tree he thought, but how could that be possible. Reaching down to his side Lief drew his dagger and threw it at the tree a mere metre in front of him, missing horribly.
"Please don't throw sharp objects at my form half-elf."
Lief fell back as the words hit him like a stiff breeze. "Tree, you talk?"
As an echoing voice of grand nature responded Lief began to question his recent alcaholism. "I am Relkath of the Infinite Branches, and I, Lief, have taken an interest into you today. Although my time is short, you'd be wise to listen."
Three sharp blinks in an attempt to wipe away any sense of dreaming and the last of Relkath's words echoed through Lief's ears still.
"Since I'm pretty sure I'm just wasted Mr. Tree, sure, I'll have a seat and listen." And so Lief sat chuckling to himself, thinking he'd found a new level of drunkard.
On that morning, however, Ralkath bestowed on Lief two gifts. The first was a power beyond his understanding, that Ralkath said will 'grow like a seed within him.' The second gift was formed from several leaves that fell from Relkath’s branches. Before Lief’s eyes the leaves took form as an ornate book, the only thing resembling the original leaves were the gilded branches on the silver tree that adorned the books cover. Relkath's presence left that particular tree following the formation of that book, leaving Lief alone in the glade and returning to his own plane. Relkath left him with one final thought: “Let life take root before you try and touch the sun.” Lief laughed at his new book and said goodbye to the tree before taking one last look at his family home and drifting to sleep atop the gilded book, that moved swiftly to catch his head.
When Lief awoke, hours later he noticed the book was still there and began to truly wonder about the events that had unfolded that morning. He called out to the tree asking for Relkath for an hour, but with no response before gathering his thing and finally left that glade with the book in hand.
Lief wandered for days in an uncertain direction and his supplies slowly ran low. Unsure of where exactly he was the half-elf began to wander again, attempting to try and find his way home. Maybe there he would be able to find a compass in his surroundings. He was lost though. Lief dropped to the ground in a maze of forest surrounding him and let whisper "Father, why did you do this to me?" The sound of paper rustled in his bag as he began to speak and Lief flipped out the book Relkath had bestowed upon him. Without even a single touch the book had immediately opened when Lief began to speak and started to imprint his words in golden ink upon the pages of the book with every word that left his mouth. Without doubting the outcome Lief then asked, "Which way is home?" and the book floated west in the sky flapping away in the cool breeze. Lief smiled to himself, stood and stepped forth towards his new mysterious companion.
Over the next month, Lief learnt more about his powers and those of the book. He met a travelling band of bards and fell in love with their merry men, led by Edgar. He journeyed with them to the nearby town of Whiteridge, but once there Lief realised that his story was only just beginning to write itself…