The Tree

Feldane's history begins with a search for the fountain of youth.

An ancestor, obsessed with the idea of eternal youth, abandoned his family and set out to find the fountain of youth. He was unsuccessful, but he did bring home a strange tree. He ate its fruit and planted the seed. This had two results: he died, very slowly and painfully, and the Feldane tree grew rapidly.

His son studied the properties of the tree, attempting to find its cure and the nature of its poisonous effect. He was not able to save his father, but he did develop a set of theories and lore surrounding the tree itself. Feldane concluded that they had found a tree whose roots were not in life so much as in death. Out of this, they developed the set of rituals and magics surrounding their necromancy.

Most notable among these is the ritual of initiation. The Feldane magic carries with it the risk of insanity. As a Feldane practitioner ages, they may develop a kind of internal imbalance, a slow rotting of their soul or sanity from the inside out. It is often subtle; for some, it strikes in more obvious ways. The Feldanes believe this is the result of preparing the ritual of initiation incorrectly. They manage this risk by placing it on the head of each initiate; each Feldane taking on the mantle of the family's magic prepares his own wine from the tree's fruit. It is a complicated and prolongued task, undertaken entirely individually.

The irony of the tree is that it is in fact the tree of life, being perverted. It is intended to be part of a cycle of life, and can certainly refresh or invigorate someone using its magics correctly - for about a decade. It is intended to be released back into the cycle of life - to move on to the next stage. The Feldanes keep it past that point, until the effect becomes overripe and eventually, held static in spite of its nature, decays - creating the slow insanity that appears to affect the line. The Feldanes do not realize this.

As such, much of the magic has an element of sympathetic magic to it - the Feldanes walk to a destination by using an element from that destination, for example. It is an imperfect art; an artificer might make a science of the underlying principles.

The Feldanes regard their role and duty to be the wardship of death's thresshold. Their motto is 'Let others rest'; it is their job to keep the dead where they are, somnolent and at rest. A Feldane does not *raise* the dead; they return them to their proper state. A rogue Feldane would have to be very cunning, and secretive, because the rest of his family would hunt him down.

Now, the Feldane's magic is well established and they are comfortable with it. They guard the tree with their lives, nearly literally, and consider any threat against it an act of war. They are not public about why they consider it a threat; they simply do. They can travel to a specific location in shadow by killing something that originated from that shadow - so, for example, tearing a leaf off a plant. Therefore, the Feldanes have amassed an enormous garden planted with samples from throughout shadow, that they regard as their means of travel and access to trade throughout shadow. To lose a plant from that garden is to lose access to the trade from that shadow and that shadow itself. The Feldane gardens are infamous, but few realize why.

There are legends about two Feldanes, travelling together, who realize that they are trapped and that one of them must get word back to Amber of an impending emergency. The two Feldanes - sometimes brothers, sometimes cousins - are the cornerstone of a tragic story, in which they must choose which one of them kills the other to open a path to Amber.

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