Dark Tree

The griot smiled knowingly then closed his eyes. He hummed and swayed in a familiar way.

“To understand the fruit, you must learn the roots,” he sang.

Milauris sighed. Books didn’t drag the reader through unsolicited morality lessons.

“The roots of the tree are as deep and wide as the tree is tall. A shadow tree, lurking just beneath the surface.  Without the dark network, the tree cannot live. However, the roots can lurk beneath the surface for many moons. Growing, expanding, choking out any other life that tries to take hold.  They knot up, breaking the surface and trying to reach the sky. But they are doomed to fail.  For eventually the tree will return.”

The griot paused and opened his eyes.  The sisters stood motionless, but their faces revealed they understood:  house Yaneriy was the root.

“As it is with a great tree, so it was with houses Yaneriy and Yahelis.  Twin princes, born at the same moment, Neriy and Helis split their father’s power.  Neriy took the army and had a love of knowledge. These are the foundations of a strong society. Helis walked a more spiritual path, but was adept with coin.  Faith and material goods comfort the populace, much like the shady branches of the tree.  They are also the most likely suffer the poison fed up from the roots. To rot. To break under external influences.”

Milauris blinked as he paused again.  She hated how far he drew her into the histories. The images his expressive voice painted were far more engrossing than a the rote facts in a book.

“Finish, griot.” Tifari commanded. “What happened to Helis? Where are his descendants? ”

“Helis lived a long and prosperous life as did most of his descendants. The few who survived the corruption gave thanks for grace and took refuge in the light.”

“The Abbot!” the sisters cried at the same time.

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