Skeleton-Trees Species in Corive | World Anvil


"No, not that one."
"But it's a good sized tree."
"It's not a marked one."
"Do you really believe those old stories, Uncle?"
"I don't have to believe them. I saw what they did. They didn't care what side of the Great War we were from. Thydian and Tormie alike were slaughtered before my eyes. Like a trophy hunter mounting their prizes onto a plaque. I was bound, and saw what they did to the Tormie Mage."
— Woodcutter and his niece


Skeleton-Trees are sentient walking trees who appear humanoid and skeletal. They generally stand hundreds of feet tall, with sweeping branches and pines gracing their tops, fingers, and arms.
Geographic Distribution

Further Reading

Wood Maidens
Species | Mar 3, 2022

The Walking Guardians/Wood Maidens who grow from and protect their forests and Skeleton-Tree Herds.

"You'd think fire would scare them, but it only causes us trouble as they smolder and smoke when we put them to flame. A fire would need to be hotter and larger to burn them enough. Otherwise, we have to keep chopping and pray we strike hard enough before we die."
"But ... they're trees."
— Woodcutter and his cousin from the city

The ground shook. The Forest Elf looked up, their eyes tracking the branches, or so the mage assumed. The masks hide too much. There was a benefit to the traditionalist view, but the mage still felt she was right to stay Unmasked in these Thydian forests, far from Faceless Fae.
"Stupid Tormies." Their Thydian prisoners had previously made the speaking woman into their leader. The mage frowned as she faced the prisoner.
"And what do you think is making us stupid?" She mentally slapped herself for speaking, for placing herself to the mercy of prisoners' willingness to share knowledge.
"The trees are not safe. If you upset the Wood Maidens, or anyone else does, she can unleash the herds." There was something in the prisoner's eyes making the mage feel as though TormianTricksterDeity was playing some kind of trick to warn them. "They're trees, but you want nothing to do with them."
The prisoner grinned as the ground shook again, and trees groaned and snapped.
The mage's eyes were drawn to the trees, her hand falling slack on the ropes keeping the prisoner chain near.
The source of the ground-shaking was a grotesque sight. Calling it a mere tree was an understatement on the part of the prisoner, the mage felt. The being was shaped like a person, if a person had long thin limbs made of bare branches and ending in thorn-like sprigs. The tree moved, and from the wind she smelled the sweet rot of wet iron.
The masked scout jumped into the trees, flicking matches in the direction of the being, as if it were an unmasked Faceless. The being ignored the flames and speared its hands into the warm flesh of people. She felt the blood run down her robes as she was pinned to the ground.
Masks to protect faces meant nothing to the insect-collectors, just as masks meant nothing to these monsters.
As prisoners and allies fled the attack, she saw a woman approach, speaking in a sing-song voice. "Shhhh, these weren't the ones who burned your children. But since you did kill them, you need to be certain you do not waste them."
The mage's blood ran up the springs into the branches, and the last thing she thought she saw, was the supposed Wood Maiden's back, where her garment had rotted through and revealed a hole, drawing her heavy-lidded gaze. It was warm. Zyrian was granting her some small comfort.
"You will not have my foolish kin. I will fight you with flames." The declaration welcomed her to darkness.


Skeleton-Trees are ancient, but are believed to grow from ancient battlefields within forested areas. When asked, a young Wood Maiden said her role was to protect the forest, and the Trees were part of the forests. They cover great spans of territory and their children were indistinguishable from regular trees until they reach adulthood and begin to Walk.
"I warn you, woodsman, respect the trees. I will mark the ones you may cull - the old and strong, not the young and green - and as long as you do so, you will have my protection. Cut the unmarked trees, and their parent will mark you and those between you and them for culling instead."
— Wood Maiden to a Woodcutter
Unlike regular trees, young Skeleton-Trees do not have knots where a branch might have grown, making those knots into the marks left by Wood Maidens. Young Skeleton-Trees are generally more spindly than their neighbors and have large sweeping branches attaching high above where the branches hang low. As they mature, the arm-branches plit off to develop sprigs that thicken and sharpen.
There are no records of when one begins to Walk, though Wood Maidens have been recorded telling woodspeople to avoid the young ones who rustle, as those young ones are usually calling for their parent to aid in uprooting the child.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Skeleton-Trees feed off the blood of their kills, the sap of their victims. They do not feed upon flesh - meat and bones - nor are they plant eaters. In ancient myths, Wood Maidens herd them to keep the population low, and to keep both the trees and the "civilized" peoples safe from each other.
Hunters and woodsmen search out for Skeleton-Trees on their Walk by keeping an eye out for skewered wildlife.
"Hold up! There's a bear just ahead!"
"Uncle, the bear isn't moving, and it looks weird. I'm going in to see better."
"Uncle! This bear looks like someone shot it with a huge arrow. It also looks ... starved? Why would anyone do that, and leave the pelt be- the pelt's dry."
"Niece, kiddo. Back away from the carcass. We need to leave, now."

Cover image: by Lyraine Alei, Artbreeder


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Feb 6, 2022 05:05 by Goddess Zenith Reborna

I've seen a lot of articles use an introductory quote block as a great hook but with how you used them here... there is so many great glimpses into your world at every turn it was like I was being pulled along, I couldn't stop reading! I love your murder-trees, I'm always a big fan of species that are a new and unique take on old creatures of myth. I'm really curious, if you were to take down one of these trees what kind of products might you make from its "bones"? Are they really bones are they regular tree stuffs? Would it be worth hunting in groups for it? So many questions! What a great read.

Feb 8, 2022 00:37 by Lyraine Alei

I'm glad you enjoyed the article - it's easily one of my favorites as well for the bit of long-prose within it. I'm not sure as to what the wood from one of these trees would be used for (yet) but I'm sure there are some interesting properties and it is something I've been considering because my setting does have things that are beyond the standards of Earth where I can go all-out and create interesting materials. I just need to find/figure/discover/decide what those would do.   As for the "are they bones?" the trees are trees, even as they appear very skeletal in form. Though they would have some interesting properties to their sap now I think of it ... Vegetarian Vampire Honey, maybe? hmmm...

Lyraine, Consumer of Lore, She/Her, primary project: Corive