The Silver Tree Myth in Age of Defiance | World Anvil
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The Silver Tree

Monsters are not always unsightly...   As long as men have dwelt on Thanged, from the slaying of Thangor to the City Strife to the Genesis Plague, Thangiens have been all too keenly aware of the capacity of cruelty inherent within all. For all of the whispers and machinations wrought by Phitdaitiarona, Goddess of Wickedness: plots of murder, seduction, theft, and barbarism, few atrocities come close to the wickedness committed between family members. Thangiens are quick to punish all manner of crimes from adultery to abuse, and this tale passed on from the Oldworld is one of the reasons why.


The story starts out in a quaint village nestled in a heavily forested region where a couple celebrate the birth of their first child, a little girl. The grandmother on the father's side grows envious and plans to usurp custody of the child by conspiracy and deceit, painting the hapless mother as a bad parent. Her claims come across as baseless and petty with the elders going so far as to outright accuse her of witchcraft. She withdraws her claim but this hostility causes a rift in the family with the couple deciding to build a homestead further from the village.   The grandmother bequeaths a silver seed to her son as a supposed gesture of goodwill, and the son naively accepts. He plants the seed near the new homestead where it grows rather quickly through the years. The girl, now seven, is fond of playing outside. One day she strays too near to the Silver Tree and it attempts to abduct her. At this point the Man of the Wood arrives, hacking the roots apart with his axe and carrying the girl to safety.   From her seat on the man's shoulders she can see an enormous tree far bigger than any others. The Man of the Wood calls it "Lord Sequoia, Master of the Wood". He returns the girl to her mother and warns her that the Silver Tree is evil. The mother, already suspicious about the wicked grandmother, begs her husband to build a new homestead, to which he agrees. The family prepares to move but they are observed in secret by the Rat, another agent of the evil grandmother. The Rat follows them to the new homestead and returns to the Silver Tree to divulge the location.   The Silver Tree uproots itself, killing the Rat in the process, and pursues the family. While the mother and daughter are blissfully enjoying the outdoors, they hear before they see the Silver Tree approaching swiftly. Panicked and full of dread, the mother scoops up her daughter and prepares to flee but is stopped by the sight of a colossal tree emerging from the Wood.   Lord Sequoia, Master of the Wood, arrives and roots himself in a small pond located near the homestead. The Silver Tree battles with him, but without water to nourish its roots it loses strength and ultimately collapses. At the same time the evil grandmother dies, having expended her life energy into controlling the Silver Tree. The father hears the news from fellow workers in the village and returns home, puzzled until events are recounted later.   The family lives happily ever after with Lord Sequoia watching over the homestead and the Man of the Wood being a frequent visitor, bringing gifts of meat or stories from his ventures in the Wood.

Historical Basis

According to Ronatane, the tale originated from the Oldworld and was passed down through the ages by the Freelanders. While they claim it is as old as known history, there are several anomalies and anachronisms.   For example, the Man of the Wood is stated as carrying an axe when metal weapons would not have existed among the Freelanders for two thousand years until they came in contact with the Four Queens and the Lady of Flames, Eyurodin.   People are described as living in a village with thatched roof cottages and cohesive communities, while permanent settlements would not become a fixture until Thuruk's reign over the Freelanders.   The story is set in an evergreen forest with mountains visible in the distance, while coniferous trees do not exist on Thanged and the only forested mountain range can be found in the Eastern Jungle, where Thangiens seldom tread.   Since the tale existed in oral form until the completion of Bainshaebo and the creation of the Archives of Raaezen, it is highly suspected the story has been heavily modified over millennia.


Among the residents of Bainshaebo and students of lore frequenting Raaezen, the story is referred to as "The Silver Tree" while Freelanders call it "The Walking Tree".

Variations & Mutation

Most of the elements remain the same such as the use of "Rat" instead of the sttanavoseni native to Kundain. In "The Silver Tree" the evil grandmother is described as using fantastical methods akin to magic or witchcraft despite mysticism not being prevalent in Thangien culture, while in "The Walking Tree" she simply bruises and beats the child. The Man of the Wood is portrayed as either a light-skinned grizzled Paul Bunyanesque man of great stature or a lean man with tanned skin and dark braided hair similar to a North American tribesman. The child is always stated as being a girl in all versions. Despite the tale involving a family and the prevalence of Ritho among both Thangiens and Freelanders, the Morning Mother herself is not featured in either version.

Cultural Reception

"The Silver Tree" is commonly recited as a caution against domestic abuse perpetrated against children. It can either be shared around a campfire or at home at a contemplation circle. Modern scholars point to it as an early description of Munchausen by-proxy or pathological narcissism.

In Literature

"The Silver Tree" can commonly be found as a children's book colorfully illustrated by the artisans and archivists at Raaezen.  


As told by Ki Ki Crol, Rona
Long ago in a village there lived a mother and father, and their newborn little girl. The father’s mother lived with them, and she grew envious of her son’s happiness. She coveted the little girl for herself, and through hidden arts, she inflicted wounds upon the little girl. She went to the village elder and accused the mother of harming her own daughter, and demanded that the child be given into her care. The mother professed her innocence, pleading not to be parted from her child. The elder council believed her cries, and instead accused the father-mother of practicing wicked arts in an attempt to seize the child for herself. The father-mother abandoned her accusation, but the mother and father no longer felt safe living with her.   “The father decided to build a home out in the wilderness where they would live away from the village, and from his mother. As they prepared to leave, the father-mother approached him and offered a gift; a seed that shone as if silver. She told him to plant the seed near their home as a sign of good luck. Not wishing to harbor ill will towards his mother, the father did as she asked and planted the seed in the soil. Throughout the years it grew and grew, as did the little girl, and at her seventh year, the tree loomed over their new home. Its bark shone like silver, and its needles gleamed like steel. Its roots ran long and wide and deep.   “One day, while the father had gone to the village to work, and the mother rest in her home, the child wandered outside to play. As she wandered near the Silver Tree, the roots peeled up from the soil. They snared her and drew her close, for the Silver Tree answered to the wicked father-mother. The little girl struggled to no avail as the Silver Tree planned to carry her away.   “Suddenly, an axe struck the roots and hacked them apart. A Man of the Wood had come, and he carried up the little girl and took her away from the Silver Tree. He warned her never to go near the tree again. He carried her upon his shoulders, and as they walked, in the distance she could see a mighty tree that towered far above all others. The little girl asked if it had a name.   “The Man of the Wood told her the tree was called Lord Sequoia, Master of the Wood. The Man of the Wood approached the home and shared his warning with the mother. She suspected the hand of the father-mother and when the father returned, she begged that they move deeper into the forest. The father agreed and enlisted aid from the village to build a new home. Under cover of night, the family left, unseen they believed save for a single wicked, vile, Rat.   “The Rat followed them and found their new home, for it too answered to the father-mother. It scurried back to the Silver Tree and perched atop the roots. It whispered the Secret, and the Secret flowed through the air and into the roots. Enraged upon hearing the Secret, the Silver Tree peeled itself up from the ground, its roots lashing out, striking the Rat and killing it, and thus it was rewarded for its treachery. The Silver Tree began to Walk, its roots coiling and carrying it through the forest towards the new home.   “The father had headed towards the village to work, and as he left, he saw Lord Sequoia in the distance, and felt confused for it looked as if the tree moved. The mother and child remained alone at the new home, and they played by the pond near their new home. The mother heard the snapping and cracking of wood and to her horror she saw the Silver Tree as it Walked towards them. She despaired, for the tree would not stop until it seized the child, and it would follow them wherever they fled. The Silver Tree planned to implant itself into the pond and drink of its water to grow strong. The mother turned to flee, but stopped at what she saw.   “Lord Sequoia had arrived! He Walked through the forest, his mighty roots carrying him faster and farther than the Silver Tree. He Walked onto the pond and thrust his roots deep, drinking of the water. The Silver Tree tried to usurp him, and they battled, branches breaking, twigs thrashing, roots wrenching, but Lord Sequoia would not yield. The Silver Tree began to weaken, for it had been above ground without moisture too long, while Lord Sequoia stood fast. Finally, the Silver Tree collapsed onto the ground and broke into many splinters.   “At the same time in the village, the father learned from his friends that his mother had passed away suddenly, for she had bound her life’s force to the Silver Tree. Ever after the family lived in their new home, and the Man of the Wood would visit them and share the fruits of his hunts and tell his tales of the Wood. And they lived, with their children and children-children under the blessings of Lord Sequoia.”
— Fight Alone Ch. 15

In Art

Despite no living specimens of evergreens existing on Thanged, artists have gleaned enough details from archaic descriptions to produce faithful representations of a Giant Sequoia. Depictions of the Silver Tree chasing the Mother and Child can be found as either quilts, mosaics, bas reliefs, woodwork, and frescoes.  
The Silver Tree Traditional Artwork by Mardrena
From foreground to back: Mother and Child, Father-Mother, The Rat, Man of the Wood, the Silver Tree, Lord Sequoia. Made with Inkscape.
The Pegasi stood in an outward formation along the border of the camp to alert their riders to any approaching intruder. The twin moons hung overhead, waning, and stars glittered in the clear sky. Tornath had prepared stew of roots and fish. Cye ended up declining a bowl, though, and ate of dried beef and fruit Rona had offered. The attitude all around seemed grim. Anubis glanced to the side at Rona as she unfurled sleeping rolls.   “Ronatane,” he said, using Rona’s ‘mythic name’. “Perhaps you would like to regale us with one of your tales on this solemn occasion?” Rona nodded and drew herself up cross-legged.   “Yes, but it is not a night for mirth, but for warning, such as the tale I will share.”
— Fight Alone Ch. 15
Trees that Walk by Mardrena
Made with Flowscape and
Date of First Recording
Date of Setting
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Lord Sequoia by Mardrena
Made in BlackInk
The pop and crack of embers from the campfire remained the only sound for several moments as Rona had finished her tale. “Enchanting as always, Ronatane,” Anubis praised.   “Thank you,” Rona nodded and smiled.   “It’s pretty interesting, actually. I didn’t think Thanged had the right environment to support coniferous trees,” Rowen commented and scratched his head, glancing at the shadowed horizon.   “We do not. This is actually a tale carried down to us from those who crossed into this world. We continue to tell it to serve as a warning, as evil disguised as kindness is often the most heinous of the sort,”
— Fight Alone Ch. 15

Cover image: Silver Tree Approaches by Mardrena


Author's Notes

This is based on a dream I had when I was very little of a giant tree that moved through the forest. As a child I had a boxed set of Brothers Grimm and Hans-Christian Anderson stories, and these were not the Disneyfied versions; these were the classical nitty gritty tellings such as The Swineherd, The Tinderbox, The Shepardess and The Chimney-Sweep, and The Fir-Tree. When doing the rewrite of Age of Defiance, I wanted to find a home for this odd little story I'd written down and decided to incorporate it in the background mythology. Early on in AoD, Rona is responsible for alot of exposition regarding Thanged, so it made sense to plug it as a spooky story told around a campfire at night.

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Sep 2, 2022 07:41 by Tillerz

Hi Mardrena, please check asap, because you are one of the winners of the prizes I sponsored for Summer Camp. :)

Sep 2, 2022 14:30 by Mardrena Lockehart

I submitted my info and prize claim on the form they listed and I even emailed support@WorldAnvil to double check they said they got the submissions. :3 I dunno what else I need to do.

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