K is for the Kapuna Tree

K is for the Kapuna Tree.

In the following excerpt from Windmaster the archmage, Lord Dal, is introduced to the tree of mages by his friend and mentor, Semelen. The tree holds the heritage of every wizard back to time immemorial and to a future not yet revealed.

Three steps took Dal into the veiled clearing. The stillness, the feeling of peace, was even more overwhelming here than on the mountain. Even the need for vengeance, bred into his bones by the traditions of generations of his ancestors, gave way before it.

An ancient tree, old before time began, almost filled the small space. Long tendrils hung finger-like from the branches that formed a high canopy. Heart-shaped leaves covered each narrow strand. In each leaf, veins, the brown-red color of dried blood, made the tree look like the grisly aftermath of battle. Dal slowly walked around the tree. Close up he could see a faint symbol—a mage identification—on each leaf. With each step he traced the names of dead friends and the fellow members of the Wizard’s Council.

Something shimmered at the end of a branch. The leaf’s vein was a vibrant pure red. Instead of the stillness of the other leaves, this one pulsed. Even before he spotted the rune that symbolized his own name, Dal realized the leaf’s rhythm was that of his own heartbeat. The leaf marked his lifeline.

At the end of the branch, a leaf without a symbol also vibrated. He ran a finger along of its main vein. Despite the feather-light touch, a shock numbed his arm. Ellspeth’s face appeared then faded, leaving behind only an undefined yearning.

The name for the ancestry tree of mages came from the Hawaiian word for ancestor. Not only does the Kapuna Tree have a leaf on it for every living mage, in the vein of ancestry, the tree has a leaf on it for every mage that has ever lived, even those that have passed beyond the veil. Where the previous excerpt forshadowed one mage's destiny, another leaf tells not of life, but of death. of a mage who is about to join his ancestors.

The flicker of the adjacent leaf was noticeably slower, and with each passing second, the color turned darker and darker. Its small veins had already shifted into deep red. Dal knew without even looking that the name marked on the leaf was Semelen’s.

Semelen’s hand felt warm on Dal’s shoulder, despite the coolness of the glade. “It was not your fault, my friend, that you were away when it happened. The poison spread so quickly not even the most skilled healers among us could have saved those on the island. We’re just fortunate you survived to carry on the work... and to rebuild the council.”

Dal wrenched away from the intended comfort. “There is no council anymore. Everyone is dead. I built the pyres myself.” His voice grew quieter with each word, until it was almost a whisper.

Semelen spun Dal around, his grip firm despite his impending death.

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#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badgeTomorrow’s letter is "L" and stands for Legend as in Windmaster Legend. If you're following other blogs in the challenge, here's the master list of the other participants.

~ till next time, Helen

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