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To the Vallenbrush

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Duthash Gyth Arkus VY. 237 (May 28)

“Well, then,” Shankaria said, “let us take to the air and be on our way.” Her little form blurred and shifted until a small brown-and-white sparrow hopped into the air and fluttered off northwesterly, twittering an uplifting song that bespoke Shankaria’s obvious love of her life.

Ashe reveled in being out of familiar territory. He didn’t quite know what to expect and for him there was comfort there. He was embarking on a new aspect of Mahiya that he had not yet seen and there was excitement in that! He followed her lead and shifted to the same animal form as she.

She flew low among the trees as they went erratically along through the forest while the trees became larger, thicker, and denser. After about a hand of this travel, Ashe noted that the forest had become more coniferous. The needled branches of the evergreens reached out for each other, as though they craved to hold hands, knitting together in such a tight mesh that no animal larger than a small bird could navigate through them; so tight that it arrested the very winds and the air was heavy and stagnant.

Beneath it all the ground was hidden, underpinned with a low-laying thorny and knotted bramble, and above, the early afternoon sky was lost to their sight. Time seemed to not move in this thick forest.

Had Ashe been less experienced with the forest and its veil he would have been completely lost. The thickness of the wood was remarkable, inspirational, and altogether mysterious. It was a deep and primal forest that Ashe knew could have at one time, and may be still, been a birthplace of fey folk…the wee folk as Ashe called them. The age of the forest stretched back probably beyond the memory of most.

Shankaria flitted in a seemingly random manner, weaving through the network of boughs while Ashe trailed along directly behind. As often as not, they were forced to hop from one branch to another as they made their way forward. Shankaria didn’t stop her joyful tune, however.

Ashe could detect that they were gradually making their way upward towards the sky, although rather suddenly he found that they were also settling onto the mossy ground as well. Shankaria hopped along a moment and then disappeared inside a fold in the trunk of one of the mighty trees. The sparrow disappeared and was replaced by a beautiful though tiny pygmy shrew.

This animal would be no larger than Ashe’s thumbnail, were he to take his human form.

Looking about, Ashe realized that in this place, even above ground, he would not be able to take his human form, as the tangle of low-hanging branches, roots, and underbrush would not afford him the space that he would need. As a human, he would be a prisoner to the trees and brush.

Ashe’s eagerness was almost too much for him to bear! He wanted to see the Vallenbrush but knew that patience was required. ‘Mahiya is never impatient yet everything is done’ his father would tell him when he was a boy. For many years that statement flummoxed Ashe. He felt that if nature was always changing then how could it ever be done? The answer was in the question he came to realize. Once he came to accept that, so much more opened up for him…just as it would open up for him now. He too shifted into the tiny shrew and diligently followed.

Together they descended through the trunk of the tree and down into the soil. Shankaria’s sharp, tiny claws moved the soil at a surprising rate, and Ashe followed along, moving the soil that she had moved only a moment ahead of him.
“Not long now, revered brother, and we shall enter into a small subterranean rivulet.” Shankaria’s voice entered Ashe’s mind. ”The roots of these trees delve down into it for their water, and we will have to swim among those roots and under the mount that we have approached. We shall assume the form of a small fish…I recommend the White Dama…and we shall swim the rest of the way to my Vallenbrush. Follow the current until you hear the song of the Vallenbrush.”

The water was so cold as to be frigid, and it was completely clean and pure. As a tiny fish, Ashe could detect the minute current that flowed among the countless roots that drank from the subterranean water system. The two swam along with the current in the darkness for a surprisingly short while before Ashe detected the slight rhythm that was similar to that of the Vallenwood tree. It was different, though: if the Vallenwood was the harmony, the Vallenbrush would have filled the background, adding dimension and depth to the song of the Vallenwood.

Shankaria’s mind infiltrated Ashe’s again. “I have ached to once again hear the song of the Vallenwood together with the Vallenbrush.” She said. “The brush has a deep ken…a knowledge of things past and present, and can show the way in the now, it is a compliment to the Vallenwood, and to hear those songs together is to hear the oldest and deepest wisdom, and to grasp the heart that allows one to truly grow in that wisdom.”

They surfaced together in a sheltered wetland, guided by the whisper of the Vallenbrush. They were in a deep wood. Like before, high above them the evergreen trees joined their branches such that they could not see the sky, though Ashe knew that the day was getting on, and it was well past mid-day by then. But these trees didn’t carry the low-laying branches that they had in that area where Ashe had followed Shankaria into the tree, and the underbrush was sparser here, allowing him to resume his human form (should he wish) with comfort. Little sound penetrated this sacred place, and the voice of the Vallenbrush was clear in Ashe’s mind.

“We are in a crater, of sorts.” Shankaria said in their cant. “Surrounded by mountains, and capped with these sentient evergreens who keep out all invaders, even direct sunlight.” Ashe cast about; all around him was a vast setting of the vallenbrush: small, juniper-looking brush with red berries hanging like decorations. As darkness was descending, early as it would in such a crater, the vallenbrush had already begun to glow it’s multi-colored lighting that clung to the soil like a thick, heavy fog. It was a light very much like the vallenwood, but instead of raining down, the vallenbrush lights crept out from the plant and billowed in cloudy exploration. Ashe knew the lightshow that he would witness as proper night plunged them into otherwise total darkness.

Ashe absorbed the song of the Vallenbrush and felt an energy deep within. There was a connection, a pure and primitive synergy with the elegant shrub. This was the second instance in a short span of time that Ashe experienced such a thing. First was the sprouting of Vallen at the Ring of Mists and now the Vallenbrush.

Ashe recalled always having a link to this ancient sentience but hadn’t always had the chance to embrace it.

“You have a gift Ashe, you’re brother does too. It’s a rare gift that should be given it’s deserved attention” Zachary, his father, said. “It will expand the consciousness of all races and bring us closer to Mahiya in all it’s forms.”

“You have the gift too Dad. Why do you not consult the Seers?” Ashe, only just ten years old, inquired.

“Because I have been blessed with Zebulon. My path is different than your’s son. I have a consciousness within unlike any in many generations has experienced. It’s my charge to see that Zebulon does what Mahiya needs done. Do not think I don’t understand your reverence for Mahiya…and you should always keep it’s life close to you. You now have the chance to bring forth the inherent power of one’s mind and study under Sebsation Sylvanwood and Master Spitzbergen.”

“While they both are quite wise and knowledgeable, The song of Mahiya I hear…it calls to me…never to be silenced.” The impetuous boy replied.

Smiling, Zachary, a Chosen One of The Valley, said, “And neither should you ignore it…ever. Ashe, my dear boy, the world will awaken through you and your brother. I see that while your path is with Mahiya you shall seek it’s wisdom on two trails. First, your mind must learn what your heart knows. Watch after Valakai. He’ll need you.”

Ashe’s thoughts returned back to his present situation at the Vallenbrush. He took in a deep breath of the wooded air. It was the scent of his soul. Intoxicating and rich it made him concentrate on his breathing. His mind focused and he could hear surrounding thoughts. The very spirit of this place was nearly overwhelming.

Realizing that his eyes had been closed for a bit of a while he opened them. To his delight, he noticed something that he’d not seen upon his arrival- a fey ring of violet mushrooms circling the base of the Vallenbrush.

Fey Rings were rare indeed, and it was immediately clear to Ashe that this particular Fey Ring was not an ordinary Fey Ring (if such a thing might exist at all). This one was very large, as Fey Rings went, and completely encircled the 15- or 20-pace wide circle of Vallenbrush.

What the purpose of that particular Fey Ring might be, Ashe could only guess. Additional scrutiny (and perhaps asking!) would no doubt reveal its complete nature, but based upon the size, and the periodic "puff" of indigo mushroom spores, Ashe understood that this Fey Ring was one of protection of some sort.

This was one of the many mechanisms by which this small stand of Vallenbrush was being protected, whether by protecting it from scrying, or muddling its scent, or some other means was unclear...and unimportant.

Casting about in the waning light of Kossuth, Ashe thought that this scene was positively primeval. The walls of this crater loomed quite high, but the cradle was not too much wider than the Vallenbrush itself was...perhaps 30, 35 paces all told.

From the center, there was the Vallenbrush itself, and the Fey Mushrooms. Outside of the Fey Ring, there was yet another ring of boulders, each about the size of a pony, and each covered with a lustrous carpet of moss. Ashe was amused by the realization that the crater itself was yet another circle, and the trees created yet a fifth circle.

Circles within circles within circles. The whole was a testament to Mahiya and the Great Cycle. Casting his adjusting eyes toward the over-covering trees, Ashe caught more than a glimpse of gossamer tendrils amidst the branches. Spider webbing, no doubt.

Shankaria was rocking back and forth contentedly and humming along to the song of the Vallenbrush. Her little eyes were closed and a placid smile adorned her face.

The significance of the five circles was by no means lost on Ashe. Only recently had Dale spoken about the fifth child. The fifth child of Nyx…of Mahiya. Coming here was no coincidence, no accident. Not because he was purposely brought here but rather because the unfolding events though seemed random were all very much tied together. Coincidence was the excuse of the mundane who could not open their mind and truly see, hear, and most importantly, feel.

As Ashe allowed the majesty of the moment to evolve he delighted in watching Shankaria also enjoy the moment. The significance of it all was not lost on her either, he sensed, though he was quite reserved in asking her what her perception of it was. Perhaps he didn’t really need to. While she might be unaware of the events unfolding in Threshold and in the so-called civilized world it was all part and parcel of the same thing- change.

Ashe glanced from side to side and observed the peculiar “trees” watching over the tiny grove. The spidery threads that crossed on high glimmered in the waning glow of Kossuth. The scent of damp, rich soil was intoxicating. Ashe was nearly hypnotized by the Vallenbrush’s little wisps of light.

“Shankaria, the rarity of the Vallenbrush is remarkable that can not be denied. In days of old did the wood and brush ever grow alongside each other? For none that I know of grow in the Valley of Mist. Oh what a most blessed and hallowed ground that would be if the two together!”

North Woodlands Gnomish 0066ff
Brethren's Cant ff9933
Common (for the wildlands)

"The Brush and the Wood are siblings, even as are the Owl and the Eagle." Shankaria answered. "It is my sense that somewhen, when the world herself was young, they did live together. But, as it is with most siblings, when they come of age and find that they each have their given tasks, they go out into the world to perform those tasks. I'm not aware that they've dwelt together since they each left home, countless ages ago."

"But, in the comings and goings of things, siblings are often called home when one task is complete and the next is to be done...Mahiya has been whispering to me that it was time for her children to come together again. I had thought that she spoke only of we Gnarcheon, that was must make connection with the others of Zebulon's servants again for the coming conflict. This was why I was looking for you to come this way at some point...when, I did not know, and neither did I know that it would be you, specifically. A few of our Gnarcheon have also traveled to Kaaryn'Zyth to bring them into this with us."

"Standing here now, I think that She intends that these eldest of her children must live together once again."


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