A Story from a Grimoire of a Religion that Doesn’t Exist

Posted on April 21, 2019 by




“Watch,” said the old man.

The tree bowed, uncertain of his authority. The old man smiled, and laid down his cane. His daught-pitr was buried here and her children, and their children, and on for many subsequent generations.

They had been buried in the ashes of their parents, on and on, for ten generations in total; the old man had told this to the tree, who was listening carefully.

“They come to be buried here because it is the boon I ask of them,” said the old man to the tree. “It is the only boon.”

The tree quivered, could not speak its question.

“Only one,” replied the old man. “His name was GWYDDR. He loved his mother and his sisters. He was raised in a household of women, for his father was lost.”

“The boy GWYDDR was not handsome, but had strength and so was valuable to his family. His mother knew he would prove valuable to a wife but no young woman would have him, as they were too concerned with themselves and he not with them. And so my kin was married to no-one.”

The tree swayed, uncertain.

“It did not anger me, nor was it the source of his misfortune. His sisters had borne children, and several of them rest here. GWYDDR laid his mother to rest under your branches. His mother died of fever. He did not begrudge me his brethren.”

“But he came of age and left for many years. He fought in wars, contracted plagues, and I believe fathered clans, although never a single child. When he was old, he did not cease his travel, and remained strong.”

“He came to realise that he was becoming stronger for each league he kept between his body and this place.”

“I did not begrudge him his discovery, as this my blood is my gift to them.”

“But it has always been that they must be buried in this place, and to be buried they must die. And they must return to die.”

“GWYDDR was desirous of life, and so did not return. But his anger burned him fiercely. I did not become angry; I only waited for his return. His legacy was this: time, and strength.”

“His sisters’ children had given me two generations of children before GWYDDR could not sustain his anger. He hand wove his clothes, washed in icy water, and did not become weaker with age, and the people of the villages he founded were frightened of him and declared him a witch.”

“He first fled these places to escape the people, but they, unable to believe that their fought-founder, that a man who resolves historically irrational and eternally relevant disputes in their village folklore, could be more than a man, gave chase, swearing vengeance on a man to whom their parents paid tithes, for he was an impostor, insulting their history, perhaps a devil.”

“GWYDDR did not engage these people, as he did not wish to harm them. When a year had passed, even his most determined hunters had gone home to their families, for when they gave chase he ran farther from his family grave and grew stronger.”

“As I have said, my blood did not return to me until the death of its third generation removed. It was at this time that GWYDDR returned to exact revenge upon me for the blood and the legacy I have bestowed upon my descended kin.”

“He determined to die away from this grave. But he found no manner of killing himself.”

“In a rage, he stood under your branches, as you would remember had you not been asleep, and summoned me to him.”

” ‘ I will die only when you are dead, Grandfather,’ said he to me. ‘I will die only when the curse of your blood is lifted.’ ”

“I blew a breath to him across my palm, a human breath, and he, being nothing but what I gave him, was dust, and floated away on my breath.”

“Are you satisfied with this tale?” asked the old man.

The tree was satisfied.

“Now watch,” said the old man.

And he chopped up the living wood, placing it on the ash pile of generations of his descendants. He then placed a staff, his staff, his cane, on the pile.

He stepped on the pile and lit it.

When the old man stepped from the fire, he was rejuvenated. He retrieved his staff from the fire ashes, not wizened nor cracked, but made anew. Not a sigh nor a creak had arisen from the firelogs; the tree had known its place and could not have wandered from the old man’s protection.

In its ashes there grew a sapling.

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